Rumors of Bellator moving to Spike TV have been around ever since the UFC's falling out with the network earlier this year. With the UFC and Spike failing to reach a deal to extend their partnership, the network was likely to look to get into business with another promotion as MMA has been one of the cornerstones of Spike's programming since The Ultimate Fighter began in 2005.
Bellator had been airing on MTV 2 and recently began streaming their undercards live on Spike's website. Now, Viacom (parent company of MTV and Spike) has bought the promotion and has big plans for the company's future. USA Today with the report:
Viacom, parent of MTV Networks, bought a majority stake in Bellator Fighting Championships and will start airing the promotion's bouts on Spike in 2013, the companies told USA TODAY this week. They've had ongoing talks for about a year as they finished up various deals, and over the past month finally reached the point where they could announce the news, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said.
Although Spike's agreement to carry new material from UFC ends in December, the channel still has rights to the promotion's library through 2012. As a result, fights from Bellator won't air on Spike until 2013, said Kevin Kay, Spike TV president. In addition to continuing Bellator's current practice of having two seasons annually, Spike expects to run additional programs such as highlight shows and related content, both on TV and online.
Make sure you read the full article as it has a lot of good information and quotes from Bjorn Rebney.
I don't think this truly makes Bellator any sort of competitor for the UFC, but their aggressive going after of prospects will likely continue as they have more resources at their disposal and exposure to make the promotion more appealing. It comes down to if they figure out a way to pay their fighters enough that you don't have one champion (Zach Makovsky) publicly saying that he would have been better off not winning the belt and fighting back through the tournament and another (Zoila Gurgel) having to take up donations from fans to pay for injuries.
The appeal of fighting for Bellator is lessened significantly when you hear those things and with their incredibly restrictive contracts any manager of a high level talent would still be better served to wait for Zuffa to come calling.