Bellator Fighting Championships will make their move to pay-per-view on November 2nd in Long Beach, CA, and the main event will see UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz coming out of retirement to fight former training partner and friend Quinton Jackson. The fighters are known as two of the biggest draws in the history of the sport, but it's obvious that they're on the downside of stellar careers. Hell, we all thought Tito was done already. Money talks though, and they'll return to the cage for North America's number two MMA promotion in hopes of generating one last big payday.
Now I don't expect you to get all excited about dropping some cash to watch two fighters well past their prime. It's pretty obvious that they're still friends, and this is strictly about the almighty dollar. Bellator has also done themselves no favors by promoting the fight in a professional wrestling ring on Impact Wrestling, since it watered down the supposed reality and intensity of the bout even more. It's hard to take Tito and Rampage seriously to begin with a lot of the time, and putting Tito in the Aces and Eights while having Rampage go nose-to-nose with Kurt Angle doesn't exactly scream PPV jackpot.
There is a silver lining though. While the main event might put some people off, it still has some positives as well. And the rest of the main card is actually really solid, which is going unnoticed by many. I figured with all the negativity being thrown Bellator's way for taking this card to PPV, it might be worth offering some counterbalance and explaining why this card is actually worth the money if you take a closer look. So here are five reasons why you should at least consider ordering Bellator's maiden trip to pay-per-view.
1. Even with a manufactured main event that has been promoted horribly, there's still a somewhat compelling fight there. Yes, they've both lost three in a row. Yes, they're both shells of their former selves. But even in their losses, they've managed to put on exciting bouts. Rampage won fight of the night when he lost to Jon Jones. Tito's final loss to Forrest Griffin was actually pretty entertaining and won fight of the night as well. I don't think we have to worry about one guy laying on the other one, or them just staring at each other the whole time. They know what the crowd wants, and they're going to give it to them at least.
2. The co-main event is a rematch of one of the best fights of 2011, and was picked as the fight of the year by many fans and journalists over the likes of Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson. Michael Chandler is a top-five lightweight and Eddie Alvarez sits right on the edge of the top 10. The fight is guaranteed entertainment and is one of the few fights that Bellator has that fans should be willing to pay for.
3. While Daniel Straus isn't going to move the needle, Pat Curran is another "franchise" guy for the promotion. He's a top-10 featherweight and always engages in entertaining fights. Forget Junior dos Santos, this guy is one of the best boxers you'll see in MMA and it's kind of sad that he flies under the radar so much. I wouldn't expect a close fight like his bout with Patricio Freire, but it will be very good nonetheless.
4. I know, I know. You probably don't like King Mo, Muhammed Lawal. The fact that his bout rematch with Emanuel Newton is for a largely made-up title screams of boxing BS. I agree with you. But while I don't like the fact that Tito and Rampage are doing their fight promotion in TNA (another King Mo stomping ground), the bout with Newton is a seller based on the simplest of pro wrestling maxims - people will pay to see the bad guy get beat up. Emotional investment in a fighter/character works two ways - you like them, or you can't stand them. Either way though, you still care. Mo, like Josh Koscheck before him, is a master at going after the latter demographic. He's unwittingly turned a relative journeyman like Newton into a star, and I'm willing to shell out a few bucks to see if Newton can shut Mo up once again. That's the ultimate beauty of MMA though - it's not pro wrestling. It's not a movie. The bad guy can win in the end, and that's what makes it truly compelling.
5. It's not the UFC. For many, that's a turnoff. You're used to the UFC - their announcers, their production values (or lack thereof), their nu-metal intro. They're your comfort zone. You almost always get value for your money with their cards, even shows like UFC 161. But while a few other promotions, most notably Affliction, have tested the waters with PPV, this is probably the biggest non-UFC PPV in almost four years. This isn't King of the Cage, or a package of fights recorded a month ago. This is a legitimate event with a (mostly) legitimate card from a legitimate promotion with the money to back it with legitimate production values. It'll be cheaper than a UFC event (35-45 dollars) on a night with no major competition. It just might be worth buying, even out of curiosity.
Before any smartass asks, Bellator didn't pay me to write this. To be honest, I'm not even close to the promotion's biggest fan - I generally only tune into their shows when there is a major fight or an otherwise compelling fighter on one of their cards. But for this, they've smartly put all of their draws in one basket and after four years and 105 cards of freebies, they've finally asked you to pay a few dollars to watch them compete. I'm okay with that, and I will pay up to see what they have to offer. And I think it will end up being worth the cash. I don't think it's that wrong to support someone in MMA other than the UFC so for once, I'm willing to take the plunge. We'll see how it turns out.