Last night Bellator announced that they will be entering the risky business of charging money for a product we are accustomed to viewing for free. And if that risk wasn't large enough, they are banking on people caring about a fight between two UFC cast offs, who combined, have lost their last 6 fights. You can also guarantee that the price tag on these two over the hill fighters is as much or more than they pay their entire roster on any given card.
So what gives? Is Bellator really looking to gain anything here? My answer is no. This is not about gaining a thing. This is purely a technicality that prevents them from losing a key asset - their talent.
The Eddie Alvarez debacle is an ugly reminder that clever wording buried in fine print on a contract can be the difference in a fighter heading to the UFC to make a run at that elusive Anderson Silva money, or sticking around in the B leagues and fighting for pennies on the dollar. The main sticking point in the Alvarez discussions centered around PPV points and his potential to cash in on the UFC's platform. Bellator, while a great product, is definitely still a B league with far less to offer their fighters, especially the coveted PPV points that top fighters draw.
Last week, Bellator LW champ and rising star Michael Chandler re-signed for 8 fights in the Bellator cage. Last night, WW champ Ben Askren won the last fight on his existing contract. This timing seems all too convenient. While Askren has little to offer the UFC, it's not unreasonable to think that they'd want to get their hands on Chandler, who puts on exciting fights every time he steps in the cage, and possibly Askren just to feed him to the wolves and stick it to ex business partner Viacom in the process. Could this PPV plan be Bellator's underhanded way of dancing around the matching clause in their contracts? After all, selling a few thousand PPVs is still technically selling PPVs, should another fighter want to go the route of Alvarez and challenge them in court.
While I support Bellator and enjoy watching their (free) fights, everyone knows that this is a joke, and Bjorn rebney is laughing the loudest. Well played Bjorn, well played.