Bellator Champions To Defend Three Times Per Year In 2013

Spike TV logo via Spike.com

When Bellator Fighting Championships makes their pivotal move from MTV2 to Spike TV in 2013, the fans, the tournament participants and the promotion's title holders will all "Get More Action."

Bellator has wisely adopted the tournament format to distinguish their brand in the MMA landscape. Ever since the heyday of the Pride Fighting Championships Grand Prix events, fans have gravitated toward the momentum building excitement of tournaments. Bellator typically hosts four tournaments every season, the brackets consisting of the top contenders, some mid-tier talent and a few up-and-comers in a particular weight class all battling it out for a shot at the champion.

The formula is a success, as contenders are established strictly on their performance and title shots are earned by being the last man standing -- but it's not without its flaws. Bellator has been so immersed in tournaments that their divisional champions are often shelved for extended periods of time. The result is inactivity and lowered exposure for the premiere fighters on their roster -- or awkward circumstances like Travis Wiuff defeating light-heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu in a non-title bout to keep the champ in action, which devalues the title's prestige.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney plans to improve that in 2013. In a report from MMAJunkie.com, Rebney relayed his intention to have the champions of each weight class defend the strap up to three times per year.

"If you look at the champions in the other organization, the UFC, they're fighting on average two times to defend the belt per year, and sometimes three if they can squeeze it the right way," Rebney said. "We're going to have that same dynamic. We're going to look optimally to get to three title defenses per year.

"We want guys fighting every four, four-and-a-half months per year."

That's not the only change on tap for the organization in 2013 -- in addition to the debut of their reality television show later next year, Rebney is also looking to increase the number of tournaments per season from four to six. That means more fights, more action and more progress for Bellator contenders and champions, and more action packed MMA for the fans.


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