It’s no secret that Bellator is making a big move to Spike TV in 2013, yet there is still big move to be made for next year’s monumental transition to a television channel that people actually have. Bellator has a wonderful opportunity as more eyeballs than ever before will be able to view their tournament-based cage action in the near future, but Bellator needs to give the normal MMA fans a reason to check out their product.
Action-packed shows are great for the hard-core fan, but normal MMA fans usually care about the fighters more than the fights itself. There is really only one competitive non-Zuffa MMA fighter that can garner the audience that Bellator desires to receive in 2013. Fedor.
Yeah I know, if you combine the high price of Fedor with the minimal spending of Bellator, Fedor signing with Bellator is as likely as Blake Griffin leading the NBA in Free Throw Percentage at the end of this season. Nonetheless, Fedor is a proven drawing card as his fight against Antonio Silva on Showtime in Strikeforce destroyed Strikeforce’s previous TV rating on Showtime with 741,000 viewers.
Between his mystical charisma and reputation of being one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, Fedor Emelianenko should pique the interest of the casual MMA viewer. The question is would it be worth Bellator to sign Fedor from a financial stand-point?
A Fedor/Bellator contract would be around $350,000 per fight. If you add the M-1 Mafia’s relentless pursuit of co-promoting with any promotion that signs Fedor then you have quite the tall asking price for a stingy MMA company.
The value of Fedor is his ability to bring in an audience, but if Bellator were to capitalize on signing The Last Emperor then it’s all about the under-card. A success of signing Fedor wouldn’t be measured necessarily by the rating he drew on his fight, but whether or not that show hooked new fans to follow the Bellator product.
An event headlined by Fedor has to deliver on the under-card and provide fighters that casual MMA fans can get attached to because at this point Fedor is a luxury that wouldn’t have a long-term future in Bellator. Fights on the under-card should not only have intriguing characters, but entertaining fighters. The ideal weight class would be some of the lighter weight classes with established, interesting fighters like Eddie Alvarez, Patricio Freire, and Eduardo Dantas.
Co-promoting with M-1 could also be considered a positive. It would probably allow Bellator to utilize some of M-1’s talent on their shows. The likes of Guram Gugenishvili, Rashid Magomedov, and Daniel Weichel would provide depth to Bellator’s weight divisions.
Even though Fedor’s cost would be astronomical for a second-tier MMA promotion like Bellator, it could potentially be worth it. He would bring credibility to Bellator along with new viewers that could get hooked onto the Bellator product. A Fedor signing would be a risk, but I believe it’s a risk worth taking.