For the hardest of hardcore fans Bellator is a great product. I mean lets face it, if you can find time to watch every UFC event, most would consider you a hardcore fan. If you can find even more time than the 107 hours of Zuffa MMA, then you my friend, are the hardest of hardcore MMA fan. For upcoming fighters it's an even better platform to showcase your skills, build your name and fight some really great prospects along with veterans who are trying to re-establish themselves on live television. With ufc programming moving away from Spike in 2012, things seemed to look positive for BFC. Bellator is now ten months into it's three year deal with MTV2 and ratings have reached an all time low. The logical next step would be for MTV2's parent company Viacom to bring MMA to Spike once Zuffa leaves at the top of 2012. It would be the perfect move to keep MMA on a channel that has had it for the past ten years. With a day switch from Saturday to a Wednesday or Thursday a move to Spike, BFC could be revived in 2012.
One problem...UFC and Spike have a contract stipulation that in short, only allows Spike to televise MMA in the form of old UFC, if Zuffa does not buy back their library for the year of 2012. If Zuffa does buy it back than Spike would be free to show live MMA events of their choice. Dana has stated that Zuffa will not buy back the library which in turn blocks BFC in their pivotal sink or swim upcoming year. Although I am sure Bellator will continue putting on solid shows on MTV2, with ratings like 103,000 viewers for their live event or with a day change that may push them up to 113,000 viewers it will not be enough to reach mid 2012 and call it a success.
Although Zuffa already has thirty four shows planned for 2012 the one thing Dana states is " we need more fighters". With a purchase of Bellator, the following would be extremely beneficial to the MMA community.
- Champions could come into the UFC and automatically be "in the mix" after one title defense or as Dana and Lorenzo see fit.
- With the international TUF project underway it would provide credible coaches with champions from Bellator facing off against a UFC vet.
- Help develop the lighter weight classes with fresh talent as champions come over as seasons pass.
- Keep women's MMA alive on bigger stage and also help grow their weight classes.
- Add a more legitimate feeder the the UFC since Spike caters more towards the casuals and what Spike and soon FX will choose for ratings.
After listening to Helwani's interview with Zach Makovsky, Bellators Bantamweight Champion, the only complaint of his is that fighters make more money during the tournament than after they become champion, because they do not fight as much. The move to UFC as champion would solve that problem, except for the women will still be adding depth to their divisions and in time could also move to the UFC. It would make Zuffa an even more dominant force here in America however organizations like Bamma, MFC, and others with non exclusive contracts would continue to help fighters develop.
Although Strikeforce is also a Zuffa owned MMA company making it a feeder league would not legitimize the fighters that would come through it. Although the challengers series did build up fighters like Cormier and Woodly, a tournament format would be a much more appropriate way to allow fighters to earn their way to the big leagues. Strikeforce has also make a name on making freakshow fights with co-main events featuring H. Walker. Spike would also be comfortable fit for Zuffa to get back in bed with, considering that Dana has said in numerous interviews that their relationship with Spike execs is just fine.