It was probably unfair of fans and media to expect Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler to put on a fight as good as the first time they stepped in the cage opposite each other. But, last night at Bellator 106, they lived up to the hype and put on a thrilling sequel that saw Alvarez win back his lightweight title.
With the fight having moved from the co-main event of Bellator's first PPV to Spike TV with the cancellation of Tito Ortiz vs. Quinton Jackson, Bjorn Rebney is now suggesting that he wants to put the rubber match on pay-per-view (via MMA Junkie):
When Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler heal from an epic rematch that headlined Bellator's biggest event to date, Bjorn Rebney can't see any reason not to put them together again on pay-per-view.
"Not unless I have my brains removed," the Bellator chairman and CEO joked to MMAjunkie.com following Saturday's event, which took place at Long Beach Arena in California. "I mean, please. How could you not?"
On Twitter last night, I wasn't sure if you could sell the rubber match on pay-per-view with much success. Yes, hardcore MMA fans will likely buy, but the "hardcore, buy any fight" crowd is a small (and seemingly shrinking) market.
It's worth remembering that Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward, the action trilogy that everyone references in the "modern era" of fight sports, took place entirely on HBO.
This desire to force their brand onto PPV before it has really been established seems like a good way to waste fights that could continue the build. Big shows on TV and building an audience moves you toward a place where you can put on successful PPV events, putting fights on PPV before you're ready minimizes the audience that sees them in many cases.
Of course, maybe they need to be on pay-per-view because of the terms of the Alvarez contract.