Those of you who watched Bellator’s debut on Spike TV – which drew in almost one million viewers, by the way – probably noticed a lack of upcoming advertised squash fights. No, I’m not just typing that as a way of reminding everyone that Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Seth Petruzelli were both eliminated from the light-heavyweight tournament. Rather, you may have noticed that Bellator didn’t announce any non-title super fights for the promotion’s champions.
That’s because Bellator CEO Bjorn has officially put an end to non-title super fights, according to a recent interview with MMAFrenzy. No more pointless bookings for the sake of keeping champions active (more on that in a second), no more risking that the champion will actually lose what was supposed to be a squash match. Also of note, champions will no longer be allowed to fight outside of the promotion – for obvious reasons.
While we never really supported non-title super fights to begin with, light-heavyweight champion Christian M’Pumbu’s loss to Travis Wiuff at Bellator 55 was enough for us to call for an official ban on the practice. And although it wasn’t a non-title super fight, the promotion didn’t exactly look great when its bantamweight champion, Eduardo Dantas, lost to Tyson Nam under the Shooto Brasil banner.
The only benefit that such fights offered was that the promotion didn’t have to worry about keeping its champions inactive. Fighters need to earn paychecks just like everyone else, and fighting only once per year severely hinders their ability to do that. Don’t worry though, Bjorn Rebney is assuring viewers that champions will now be fighting more often to compensate for the bans. As MMAFrenzy reported:
“Our champions will be defending very regularly, on a consistent basis, because we have all the tournaments we need now. There are a lot of incredible world title fights that we’ll get to see,” added Rebney when asked about the title picture.
“It’s the format I had in my head many years ago, and this is the way it was supposed to work.”
So, instead of watching Bellator’s champions take on journeymen and gatekeepers, we’ll get to watch them consistently defend their titles against the winners of their division’s tournaments. It’s a welcome improvement.