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Bellator To Return in April 2010 With Unprecedented Three-Network Deal

(Toby Imada‘s infamous flying inverse triangle choke of Jorge Masvidal at Bellator 5.)

Bellator MMA make a dramatic arrival earlier this year with a weekly ESPN Deportes series and a memorable string of viral videos on YouTube. But the league lost some momentum during the long negotiations for a new broadcast partner, and its fighters have struggled to find work. The good news is, the wait was worth it. This morning, Bellator announced an unprecedented three-part network deal that will put their product in over 100 million homes.

Bellator’s second season will launch April 8th, 2010, with 12 weekly live events that will air Thursday nights on FOX Sports Net and its regional sports network affiliates (reach: 82 million homes). Every subsequent Saturday night, a 30-minute highlight show will be broadcast on NBC (112 million homes), and an hour-long package will air on Telemundo (62 million homes). The deal also includes a third 12-week season that is slated to begin on August 12th. Both seasons are expected to follow the multi-tournament format established in Bellator’s first season, which crowned Joe Soto, Eddie Alvarez, Lyman Good and Hector Lombard the promotion’s champions.

Unsurprisingly, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney is pretty freakin’ geeked about the whole thing. As he told MMA Junkie:

"It was my dream scenario. I had this triangle in mind of what I wanted accomplished. I wanted a live weekly broadcast for two hours in prime time so people could see what we’re all about. I wanted it easy to find, and FSN accomplishes that. I also wanted a network play. What we ended up with is a rock-em’, sock-em’ highlights show on NBC similar to ‘The NFL Today,’ for lack of a better comparison. The third part of the triangle then was a Spanish-language option. The Spanish-language audience responded just magically last season … and we wanted to bring that back to those fans."

But is it the mythical "Right Deal" that Dana White has long hunted for the UFC, or will FSN/NBC/Telemundo be an unsustainable cash-bleeder? (See also: EliteXC/CBS). If you ask Rebney, Bellator has made all the right moves:

"Without naming names, this sport is littered with the carcasses of organizations that cut (broadcast) deals that just didn’t work for the businesses. If you’re not cash-flow positive pretty quickly, you’re not going to last. With our deal, I wanted to assure not only that we would have seasons three and four of Bellator but also seasons five, six and so on…My focus wasn’t the next year or two; it was the next five, 10, 15 and all the way down the line…Ultimately, it’s for the fans to decide. But we’re offering a very different format with a very, very unique structure. We’re doing something different in this sport, and we’ve positioned ourselves well for the future."

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peanutbuttter- October 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm
All I said after reading that was "Fuck yeah"
831 Son- October 20, 2009 at 11:56 am
Okay I am excited that this is going to happen because Bellator is a good organization with exciting fighters. But the thing I am pissed about doesnt have to do with Bellator. It is the fact that the UFC-the biggest and best MMA org in the world- cant seem to get a network tv deal despite the fact that the UFC has been around for over 10 years with the biggest fan base while Strikeforce and Bellator get these tv deals extremely quickly. If Dana and co. werent such greedy fucking scumbags, then they could have guaranteed had a network tv deal by now. GUARANTEED. There is absolutely no logical reason that the UFC cant get a deal, they just want loads of money. Dana and the Fertitas, if they arent careful, are going to bring the UFC down below the level of these other organizations and soon the top fighters in the UFC will click up with these other ones.
EzMoNeY- October 20, 2009 at 10:33 am
so happy. bellator is awesome. i'm really glad that theirs finally gonna be a real sport structured option for MMA fans to watch in America now. this will A) be an awesome farm system for the ufc for awhile to bellator makes enough money to hold onto their own B) so many more fights and great fighters will be showcased now. hears hopeing they dont screw it up. cheers.
clutchy hopkins- October 20, 2009 at 8:01 am
Brock Lesnesman- October 20, 2009 at 7:44 am
When reached for comment, Dana White said, "Ha, I reach more viewers with my pre show Vlog. Those fuckers will never survive my wrath, when I'm done chewing the Scott Coker grisel, I'll use his hip bone as a ladel to drink the blood of Bellator."
Peppermint Nightmare- October 20, 2009 at 7:43 am
after watching some of the insane highlight reels they've posted online i've actually found myself wondering if they rig some of these fights to get people to notice their organization.

i don't really think it's least until i see a double jump kick double KO....which will probably happen at their next event.
that's when i'm calling bullshit.

Jugger- October 20, 2009 at 7:16 am
From what I saw of Bellator's last round of fights - they put on a quality show, with quality fighters and compelling match ups. This is big WIN for MMA fans.
Oh-Mar- October 20, 2009 at 6:50 am
jimbonics- October 20, 2009 at 6:28 am
Kick Ass!