Bellator has been widely regarded as the #2 MMA promotion in the world for some time now, fighting off opposition from rivals and delivering a highly polished product based around a tournament format. Bjorn Rebney and his team stood out from the crowd because of their insistence on developing home grown champions, rejecting the tried, tested and failed method of snapping up UFC rejects to star in their main events. Sure, in the past Bellator picked up the odd fighter released from the MMA giant; Paul Daley, Paul Sass, Cheick Kongo, War Machine, Rob McCullough to name a few, but they were never thrust to the top of a fight card or given all the limelight the promotion could muster.
This business model seemed to be working a treat, being snapped up by big US TV company Viacom and developing some real relevant stars; however the company, in what seems like a complete turn around, recently completely contradicted everything it seemed to stand for culminating in its PPV debut, Bellator 120.
The acquisition of fighters such as Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson and their match-ups on the 120 card, in my opinion, is a mistake for this company and detracts from their initial directive. I just can't help but feel having these guys come in and defeat talent which you meticulously built up and promoted from scratch is detrimental?
Promotions who genuinely wish to challenge the UFC for viewers in the MMA world rely on the 'what if' factor, can our guys beat their guys. And in recent years, fighters who sharpened their tools in other leagues have faired well against the best in the UFC, but therein lies the predicament that Bellator now finds itself in. By acquiring the services of fighters such as Rampage and Tito, who's names are so synonymous with the UFC, when they beat the best Bjorn has to offer it sends out a very clear message; guys who are no longer good enough for the UFC are still good enough to win here.
Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate the Rampage vs King Mo decision was razor thin and Alexsander Shlemenko was fighting out of his natural weight division when he fought Tito at Light Heavyweight; I just think having these guys in there in the first place is not the direction Bellator should be heading toward. They should be concentrating, and spending those precious Viacom dollars, on finding the next Eddie Alvarez or Ben Askren, doing what they do best and not falling into that same old trap.
Author: Rob Graham.