Bellator CEO, Bjorn Rebney discusses Spike TV, reality show, Paul Daley's bid to fight outside Bellator, and fine tuning contracts.
In just two short weeks, we'll be able to watch Bellator on Spike TV. It's a move that has been long anticipated, both by Bellator and it's fans. There are new tournaments lined up, a superfight between Michael Chandler and Rick Hawn, and the always welcome West Coast shows. 2013 looks to be a promising year, and Bjorn Rebney has plenty to say about what his promotion has in store for us.
It's very exciting for me as a longtime MMA fan to be launching my company on Spike in two weeks. This has been in the planning stages for almost two years, since we first did the deal with MTV2. To see it all come to fruition, I mean, five minutes from our offices, we're having the Spike premiere. To have that Thursday night slot is awesome, because it will be coming right off one of Spike's most successful and highly rated programs, Impact. All the pieces are fitting together nicely. I'm excited. We've got amazing fights lined up, with six world title fights this season.
Thursdays, 10 PM Eastern
I don't think it runs too late for anyone. I've got incredibly smart partners. They understand programming, they know the space, and they know the fans. There were a lot of discussions on what would be best. That spot was my first choice, because it did a few things. It allowed us to follow Impact. They wrote the book for the UFC when they followed the WWE coming out of the box in 2005. If you track who gets the control of the remote in these homes, our target demographic, 18-34 year old males, have control of the remote starting at 10 o'clock at night.
We felt that we'd run a tight ship from 10-12, with 4 fights per show, and the potential for more if fights ended quickly. It's a spot we felt we could be completely in tune with our target, and it still gets them out early enough to go to work on Friday morning. It really was our first choice.
There's a spectacular preliminary show that will be on Spike.com and we're going to keep doing those two hour prelims there. During that two hour block from 10-12, your one stop destination will be Spike TV.
Bellator Reality Show
We're going to do a reality show, and it's going to be a mixed martial arts fighting reality show. We're doing it in partnership with Spike, and the producer of the show, and I'm really excited about this, is Bertram ban Munster. He's the brain surgeon behind The Amazing Race. He's got 13 Emmy awards for what he's done with reality TV. Our talent development team have really put some incredibly talented fighters on the show.
We'll start filming in the first quarter of 2013. We're still working through air dates. The overall key to this is you've got to have the right team on board. We've got great people working with us and I feel really good about it.
Ben will be fighting on January 24th against Karl Amoussou at the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma. I think Karl presents more problems for Ben than anyone we've ever put him up against. We've also got Andrey Koreshkov waiting in the wings, should Ben get past Karl. Then we are kicking off another welterweight tourney, so there will be guys lined up for Ben. Provided he doesn't get injured, and/or lose, I think we'll see Ben fight at least three times in 2013. Now that we have the championship rematch clause in our contracts, if Askren/Amoussou ends up being an amazing fight, I can grant a rematch. The doors are open in a good way. We've finally got a system in place that can keep these guys very busy.
Fine tuning contracts
The sport is still so new. It's not like we've got 40 years of history in the game at a professional level. We're only about seven years into the larger scale dynamics of it all. I would like to think that we've taken every potential step we can take to improve the structure and format. Things like the championship rematch clause will be win/wins for everyone. I think we're taking the right steps, but things change all the time, and you and I may be talking in six months and something else may have changed that we're adding in. We're constantly trying to figure out what we can do to make things better.
I haven't seen anything that Paul has said or written, but we obviously have high hopes for Paul. I mean, we put him in the voting for the fight competition, we flew him down to Orlando for a very elaborate, four day photo shoot that was for our partners at Spike, we flew him to the US for exposure and to introduce him to US consumers, we gave him a signing bonus ... we've done a lot of things to show Paul how committed we are, and we think he's a very fun fighter to watch.
Unfortunately, Paul was arrested and charged with criminal assault in the UK. That arrest and charge and pending trial legally prohibits him from entering the United States. That action on Paul's part has made it impossible for us to include him in the tournament. He's scheduled to stand trial in April, and our hope, for Paul's sake, is that the trial goes well and that he doesn't have to spend time incarcerated.
With that in mind, we're currently trying to work through a structure that might allow him to fight outside our contract. We're not doing shows in the UK and he'd like to fight. We've done it with Eddie (Alvarez) and I think Hector (Lombard) fought outside our agreement five times. We're trying to make that work, but there's a process that we have to go through. There's a regimented process with paperwork and approvals and the like. We're worldwide exclusive promoters, and we're trying to work through it, and I'm hoping we can get something done, but that remains to be seen.
By no means is it official yet. Like I said, there's a process here, and over a dozen of our fighters have followed it and fought outside their agreements successfully. That process has yet to be followed here, and there's nothing official. We'll wait and see. If we can get it done to our satisfaction, we'll allow it to happen, and if we can't, then we won't. For the time being, nothing has been approved. If the process that we've laid out is followed, I think a fight for him could occur, but until that happens, he's in a hold mode, and we'll see what happens.
You can follow Bjorn via his Twitter account, @BjornRebney