It isn't hard to find hate for Bellator these days. Every Bellator press release, or statement from Bjorn Rebney fills a comment section with critical statements of the organization. I'm not above this, as I have been very critical of Bellator at times, even though I've enjoyed many of their fights over the last 4+ years. I just want to break down my thoughts about Bellator in a easy fashion to understand, the Good, the Bad, and The Ugly
Fun format - The tournament format has been more exciting than I think Bellator could even have envisioned. There have been big upsets, brutal KOs, slick submissions, and FOTY candidates over the years, and it has been entertaining to say the least.
Meritocracy - Unlike the UFC where Chael Sonnen, Nick Diaz, Frankie Edgar, and Miesha Tate have been give title shots coming off a loss, in Bellator the fighters have to win their way through either a 8 or 4 man tournament to get a shot at the champ.
Opportunity - Michael Chandler, Ben Askren, Cole Konrad, and Joe Warren are fighters who signed with Bellator with only 3 professional MMA fights, and then went on to win Bellator Championships. These fighters were handed an opportunity to make a solid living working their way through the Bellator tournament at a point in their career when many young MMA fighters are working day jobs to make ends meet. (Of course Bellator had issues keeping Konrad busy, but it started out well) There is also another level of fighter like Dave Rickles, Ben Saunders, and Saad Awad who would get lost in the UFC mix, toiling on the brink of getting cut, but in Bellator they get a chance to be on TV near the top of the card.
The best football players are in the NFL, the best baseball players play in MLB, and the best basketball players play in the NBA. In MMA I want all the best fighting in the UFC, and for the most part that happens. I hate seeing guys that I think can compete with the best in the UFC like Michael Chandler, and Pat Curran re-signing long term deals with Bellator. I understand they are running a business but this is my point of view as a fan, and I'd rather see a great fight then wonder how it would play out.
Bjorn Rebney- I understand "promoter speak" and that promoters are in the business of exaggeration, but I just find this man obnoxious. In a 24 hour span this August he was quoted talking about the all the great fighters that Bellator has, and in another article saying he has no interest re-signing Ben Askren. I'm also tired of him twisting the UFC vs. Bellator discussion. We all know that Bellator has some of the best fighters in the world, but the argument is about depth... please stop making it sound like fans don't recognize that Bellator has some top 10 talent.
Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami ... Don't lecture, and try to dictate terms to UFC on signing a top fighter that Bellator holds matching rights on, especially after the Alvarez debacle, when you have skipped on signing 2 top 10 fighters who were completely free and clear, but have found room for Kendall Grove, Karo Parisyan, Rich Clementi and the corpse of Marcus Davis.
Tito and Rampage as a PPV headliner in 2013
PPV in general - MMA fans are getting accustom to seeing great fights on free TV (UFC has title fights on FS1 in Nov, and FOX in Dec)... why is Bellator stripping its SpikeTV product of all its best fighters and title fights this fall and trying to make me pay to watch?
Dodging the commissions - When the question got asked earlier this year why Bellator fighters don't fail drug test, Ben Askren had the answer real fast "Hard to fail when you don't take it." Holding events in places with weak, or non-existent commissions on a regular basis can be hazardous for fighter safety. We have seen fighters in the tournament have tough back and forth fights that would easily warrant a 30, 45, or 60 day medical suspensions in Nevada, or New Jersey, but Bellator has them booked early next week for a fight 3 or 4 weeks out. The NFL just got hammered by its former players in a class action lawsuit for hiding concussion, and head injury data from its players... I wonder sometimes if Bellator isn't walking down that same road, which could be bad for all of MMA.
King Mo vs. Emanual Newton 2 ... for an interim title... why?
While I love that guys have to win a tournament to get a title shot... I'm not a big fan of tournaments like the LHW Summer Series tournament where all 4 competitors were coming off a loss going into the tourney. I know that the Bellator format is going to lead to some of the competitors in each tournament coming off a loss from a previous tournament, but an organization claiming to be #2 in the MMA world should be able to find some fresh talent instead of recycling an entire tournament roster.
Where there is smoke there is fire... Eddie Alvarez, Jonathan Brookins, Roger Hollett, Tyson Nam, and Cosmo Alexandre are just a few of the fighters who have complained about their treatment from Bellator. UFC Middleweight Champ Chris Weidman had a contract in hand that he intended to sign with Bellator until his uncle, a lawyer read it over and found language that was not consistent with the terms that had been discussed between the parties. There are several other names that have complained about dealing with Bellator as well, but their names are escaping me right now. When you have this many public fighter issues the fans are going to take the fighters side. I find the Tyson Nam case to be very scumbagish on Bellator's part, and it only helps to give more credibilities to everyone elses claims.
When rumors floated about a week ago that Ben Askren might retire couldn't believe that Bellator might be responsible for 2 of their Champions, with 2 NCAA National Championships a piece, and undefeated MMA records to retire... Cole Konrad being the other. Now I don't think Askren is retiring, but just the fact that it is even coming up is enough make you say WTF is going on over there.