Can Bellator Survive as the “Little Brother” Promotion?
On Saturday night, MTV2 aired what many considered to be a triumphant showing in Bellator 43. I’ll be honest; I’ve been a critic of the promotion, and specifically a critic of how the promotion has been displayed on MTV2.
The programming has been tedious at times, sometimes feeling like it features occasional fights amongst a sea of commercials and silly hype. Truthfully, it just doesn’t matter how good the intros or interviews or other extraneous material is. What the viewers care about are the fights. To date, the Bellator fights on MTV2 have been inconsistent. There have been entire cards that didn’t excite me.
Saturday night was the first time I felt like Bellator had my full attention. The other broadcasts had been easy to ignore. I enjoyed the majority of the fights. I felt like the broadcast itself had a good flow to it. The show featured a great submission win by former WEC bantamweight champ Chase Beebe. We saw a great knockout by Bryan Baker, followed by the highlight of the night in Baker proposing to his girlfriend in the cage (don’t worry…she said yes). They even squeezed in a prelim catchweight fight where up-and-comer David Rickels got to show off his submission skills in a win over Richard Bouphanouvong (say that 10 times fast).
Sadly, the night was somewhat marred by another puzzling decision, wherein a prominent Bellator fighter was awarded a decision that he probably didn’t deserve. After three rounds of standup that looked to be won by Rick Hawn, Jay Hieron was given the decision, much to the surprise of many. After Bellator 41’s controversial decision that went to the organization’s featherweight champ Joe Warren, shady judges are the last thing Bjorn Rebney wants to see alongside his circular cage.
The future for Bellator is still yet to be written. Part of me is excited about there being a smaller non-Zuffa show where prospects can cut their teeth and make their names. The company has an ever-growing number of guys that I sincerely enjoy watching fight. The production is getting better every week. I love watching fights. Moreover, I love watching quality fights. If Bellator can keep putting together this kind of product, and continues to polish it, I’m in.