Bellator MMA is continuing to make a big push in 2016 to become a true superpower in the combat sports world, expanding into kickboxing and taking the show into international waters. "Inside MMA" host, Mauro Ranallo, believes that this year could be a very important one for the promotion, and while he does not like some of the freak show matchmaking that gone on, Ranallo sees the rationale behind it.
"The ratings are up 45%, skewed by the record ratings, the drawings when Royce Gracie fought Ken Shamrock and the debacle of DADA 5000 against Kimbo Slice. And while we hope that the sport has reached the level where those kinds of fights are not necessary and, obviously, they are very much necessary when we are still driven by ratings."
Ranallo believes the ratings are what is more important than anything else right now, as the promotion looks to gain a footing and a solid fanbase. "Bellator is still a television entity owned by Viacom, Scott Coker who studied the japanese form of promotion and did so successfully with Strikeforce is doing whatever it takes to make bellator a viable entity and these fights, whether we like them or not, and again I was involved in calling some trainwreck TV with Pride Fighting Championship, I think there is a place for those kinds of matches."
"I don’t think you want to hang your hat on them, but I think Scott Coker is smart enough to know that he wants to use these gimmick matches as you put it to hopefully elevate the profile of the rest of his roster. The young champions, the young fighters who are on their paths and yeah, I did not like what I saw. I was definitely afraid that DADA 5000 would die in the cage at Bellator and the fact that he had been in the hospital for a long time speaks to how ill-conceived all of that was, but if you are owned by a television company and the company's success is dictated by ratings, then you can’t argue with the success of what bellator has done with its tent-pole shows, and I know that Scott Coker is a tremendous judge of talent. You look at the strikeforce alumni, there are now five at least who are champions."
"I know that Scott Coker is one of the best promoters in the business but he has to serve two masters, and that is ratings and the hardcore and other mma fans, but I do see there is potential now with free agency becoming more of a thing, which is good for the overall health of the fighters bank book anyway, giving them an opportunity to maybe have the companies bidding for their services… We saw Benson Henderson jump ship, Matt Mitrione… just signed with Bellator. Rory MacDonald I read is contemplating to explore free agency and why not? You have a short window of opportunity to be successful, especially in combat sports where an injury can happen at any time."
With the Reebok deal upsetting many fighters, we should definitely expect more people to make an exodus from Zuffa country and head over to Bellator. "I like that the free agency is becoming more prominent with Bellator’s signings of big names from the UFC and i think the sport of MMA needs a promotion like Bellator to help the regional promotions, like we feature on AXS TV as part of the AXS TV fight series on Friday nights. So, I like what Bellator is doing in many ways, and yeah I cringe at some of the fights that they headline with, I do understand the method to the madness and it’s brought on by the ratings, its record numbers for Bellator so that means we will see it again."
Mauro Ranallo joins Bas Rutten this week as the new host of "Inside MMA" on AXS TV after AXS TV Fights this Friday night.
To hear the full interview with Mauro where we also discuss the future of Ronda Rousey, Jones VS Cormier 2, as well as what will steal the show at Wrestlemania 32 and Shinsuke Nakamura in WWE, check out the video below.