For reference: Here's the UFC's full lineup and Bellator's lineup side-by-side:
If you had only one option (and don't give me copout answers) - Would you buy UFC 173 for the usual price of $60, or Bellator 120 for $45? This probably will garner obvious answers but it might not be a clean sweep.
Tim Burke: I'd vote neither if I had my way, though I'll probably get flamed for it and I'll likely order UFC 173 anyway.
Mookie: I SAID NO COPOUTS, TIM
Tim: FINE THEN. I'm ordering Marquez/Alvarado.
Mookie: THAT'S NOT A PPV. Well hold on, do you guys get HBO boxing events on HBO Canada or are some on PPV?
Tim: I think it's still on PPV here. But since you're getting all sassy about that too, I'm just going to spend the money on strippers.
Fernando Arbex: I would order Bellator 120 because of the main event.
Zane Simon: I think the Bellator 120 main event is going to be a hell of a lot of fun. But I'd watch Renan Barao match his socks and probably pay for it. At $45 to watch Mo/Rampage and Tito/Shlemenko I don't think it's much of a contest. UFC 173 may not be the "biggest card ever" (again) but it's certainly a way, way better card top to bottom than what Bellator can offer, and only $10 more expensive.
Paul Gift: I was at Chandler/Alvarez 2 and it was incredible. I was thinking about this a few days ago and decided I just can't get myself to but the Bellator PPV at $45 for one fight I really want to see. Kind of swore off paying for Rampage and Tito fights with the flaming pieces of crap they gave us in their later UFC events (gassed by end of Rd 1 or middle of Rd 2).
I love the top 3 fights of 173. Mizugaki/Rivera's solid to me. And who wouldn't want to watch a fight from the guy who got kicked in the nuts THREE TIMES IN ONE ROUND and lost?!?
Still may cave and buy both (or run over to Cabo Cantina for the Bellator main event), but 173's a no brainer for me. Barao's my #1 fighter.
Brent Brookhouse: I have to order both, so that part doesn't really matter. But if I were in a position where I could only order one, it'd be UFC 173 fairly easily.
173 is the better PPV card. I love Alvarez/Chandler 1 and 2, but I keep saying this over and over...Gatti/Ward was never moved to PPV even though it was a sport defining rivalry. Alvarez and Chandler are both very, very good fighters but they just don't feel like PPV headliners to me and certainly not for $45.
When you get past that you have Rampage/Mo which just doesn't do a ton for me and Tito/Shlemenko in a weird fight that I "get" in terms of what they're trying to have come of it, but that I don't consider something that demands a dollar of my money. Meanwhile the top of 173 is important, relevant to the world title pictures in three weight classes. There's also the simple fact that, while I don't expect anything to go wrong w/ the PPV, I know and trust that the UFC's PPV broadcast won't have any weird hiccups, technical issues (or...at least it's very unlikely).
So, were I in an either/or position I'd go with the card that I trust to go off more smoothly and the one with the better fights.
Fraser Coffeen: I have been really enjoying this Bellator season, and come on, Chandler vs. Alvarez III? That is going to be incredible. Like, MOTY incredible. There are good fights on the UFC show, but none that I think reach that level.
But you know what bums me out a little bit about the Bellator PPV? Putting the tournament finals on the prelims. I really want to see those, and now I can without watching the PPV. I have no problems with Will Brooks, and like watching him, but if the emphasis is on the tournaments (and it is) then the tournaments should be on PPV. Give me a Chandler vs Alvarez, Mo vs Page, Shlemenko vs Ortiz, and 2 tournament finals PPV? I am IN. As it is right now... man it's a tough call. But in all honesty, I think I still go Bellator. Why? Because if I get spoiled on Barao vs. Dillashaw results, I'm OK with that. But I REALLY want to see Alvarez vs Chandler live as it unfolds.
Steph Daniels: I'm with Tim, strippers and beer.
If I'm super cereal, I'm ordering both, but if I only had the cheddar for one, I'm doing 173. Brent is right on with getting behind the smooth operator, UFC.
Additional note: Legitimate LOL at the price of the Bellator PPV. Should have been 10-15 cheaper. Outside Tito & Rampage and MAYBE Alvarez & Chandler, Johnny Casual has no clue who anybody on that card is.
Patrick Wyman: Let me frame my response in these terms. If this were a hypothetical UFC PPV headlined by Thomson-Melendez IV, with Davis-Shogun and Nogueira-Manuwa as the second and third fights, would you go rushing off to buy it? I realize that this event is a little less expensive than a UFC card, but in a vacuum my answer be no. Add in the comparison to UFC 173, a card with three potentially dynamite and highly relevant matchups at the top, and the answer becomes absolutely not.
If this were a free Bellator event on a Friday night, it would be appointment viewing. I'd even skip Muay Thai to stay home and watch it live instead of recording it to watch after my fiancee falls asleep, as I usually do with Bellator cards. Asking me to shell out a substantial chunk of change for one awesome fight and a couple of names shorn of most of their value is too much.
Fraser: I see your point here, but the fact is this is not that UFC card. It's not a UFC card at all. And that is kind of the point. I know I am not alone in feeling a bit burned out on the same-ness of the UFC product as of late. This past weekend was a good show, no doubt, and173 looks really good. But it is still another in a long line of pretty similar UFC shows. Sometimes I want an alternative. Bellator is that alternative. And when they are putting on the most exciting fight of 2014? Well, I believe in the concept of voting with my wallet, and when push comes to shove, I'm voting Bellator this time.
Mookie: First off, I completely remove the prelim quality for both cards when taking into account which PPV is better. I'd contend that the Bellator prelims are better than the UFC's, and for Bellator that is utterly confusing because wouldn't you WANT your best fights to be on PPV?
Secondly, while Alvarez-Chandler 3 is the best fight between the two shows combined, the UFC's card is clearly both better from a matchmaking standpoint and easily more relevant. Renan Barao/TJ Dillashaw is a rushed title fight, but Barao is one of the few (typically) healthy UFC champions around and he's been destroying his competition. Cormier-Henderson doesn't do much for me as I think Cormier steamrolls Hendo, but it is a big enough fight for Cormier. Lawler-Ellenberger is fantastic matchmaking and pivotal for both men, particularly for Ellenberger, who hasn't had a quality win at welterweight since 2011.
Bellator's PPV outside of the main event and Shlemenko just holds no interest for me. King Mo has been unimpressive and Rampage hasn't won a meaningful fight in 4 years. Tito Ortiz is 1-7-1 in his last 9. Will Brooks should stomp Nate Jolly and while Michael Page is a good, exciting talent, he shouldn't be on the main card. Alvarez and Chandler are the only bona fide top 10 fighters on Bellator's main card, and no one else has an argument for inclusion.
I'd choose UFC 173 or Bellator easily based on the overall quality of the card, but I wouldn't crucify those for paying the cheaper price for what is likely to be the better main event of one of MMA's greatest trilogies.
Dallas Winston: I'm with Fraser in that it's ultra-refreshing to be debating a legitimate alternative to the UFC. The absolute golden era of MMA for me was the heated UFC vs. Pride days, and the sport just hasn't been the same since, what with the UFC sniping off competition just as it's proven worthy and then poaching all the promising talent.
I'm beyond fed up with the ongoing sentiments that every non-UFC fighter sucks by default. I don't know how long you have to watch things unfold in the sport, or how many more examples of successful Pride, Strikeforce and WEC fighters in the Octagon you need in order to chill on that bullshit.
As with any UFC competitor, depth is the issue. No one can out-compete the UFC in total roster depth, and that brings many advantages: fans will be more inclined to watch a fighter they've never heard of in the UFC, it allows for more volume and output of a top-end product and, in what's often a killer, it lends more options to replace last-minute clusterfucks like injuries, weight issues and withdrawals in general (e.g. Fedor x Barnett in Affliction or Tito for Bellator's last/first PPV attempt).
This is an extremely challenging foray for Bellator. Their niche is free weekly MMA on Spike, so PPV in itself is a bold new venture, especially one priced similarly to the UFC's. They're facing an uphill battle in almost every aspect, so I hope some can see this as a worthwhile alternative rather than compare it head-to-toe with a UFC PPV and only choose one.