“So then I said to Dana, I said, ‘Look, big guy, you take that check, and you roll it up real tight…’”
With the UFC’s current deal with BFF network Spike set to run out at the end of the year, Zuffa has been looking at other options on television, including buying a stake in cable network G4. It’s been fertile ground for all manner of rumors, but one piece of speculation that kept popping up was that Zuffa may be looking at buying Bellator Fighting Championships. This is not really a new idea, and it’s understandable given Zuffa’s demonstrated willingness to swallow its competition, but it ain’t happening.
Sure, Zuffa has pockets deep enough to write a check for the young up and coming promotion, but would they actually be interested in doing so? What would such an acquisition do for the UFC? Could they convert Bellator’s circular steel to Zuffa’s angular cage? Do they need Bjorn Rebney to come up and teach the finer points of running tournaments? Are guys like Eddie Alvarez, Ben Askren, Joe Warren, and Hector Lombard valuable enough to justify a takeover?
Well, short answer: no. Everyone knows that you can’t octagon a circle, so Zuffa would likely have a handful of round cages with nothing to do with them. Who wants a cage that doesn’t reflect your company’s logo? Come on, people, that’s just elementary.
Come on in past the jump and we’ll lay out our case, woefully uninformed though it may be, as to why Zuffa will not be buying Bellator anytime in the near future. We’ll even open up the floor for comments, if you jerks think you know better than we do. Just remember, if you make us look silly, we’re completely capable of doing humorous things to your log-ins, like adding links to diaper fetish sites and penis pump vendors. You’ve been warned.
1. Zuffa doesn’t want or need Bellator’s assets, i.e. fighters’ contracts. Every fighter that steps into the Bellator steel, with only a very few exceptions, already have their eyes set on the UFC. While there are guys like Eddie Alvarez who are more than happy with their pay and treatment, most guys have their sights set on the big money PPV land of the UFC. Likewise, Zuffa is not interested in the library of video owned by Bellator, either. While other acquisitions that Zuffa has made through the years have been influenced by a wealth of primo ass-kicking footage (PRIDE, WEC, IFL, Showtime…mostly PRIDE though), there’s relatively little of interest to the UFC. All due respect to guys like Yahir Reyes, Jose Vega, and Rich Hale, but the UFC has no interest in insane highlights of guys that will likely not ever compete at the UFC level.
2. The UFC needs a developmental resource. Whatever you call it, there has to be a system in place for fighters to gain experience and develop some kind of pro record. If those fighters can get national exposure along the way, all the better. Just look at this list of former King of the Cage champions that have gone on to compete in the UFC that we considered making (we decided against it). While Strikeforce will probably become the minor leagues for the UFC eventually, Bellator’s existence for now serves a helpful purpose to Zuffa.
3. Because Bjorn says “no.” Bellator has been through tough times, but Rebney believes its value is growing strongly. While there is a great deal of speculation that BFC is losing money, executives at MTV2 are reportedly tickled pink with ratings from Bellator. Add to that the talk around pretty much every campfire that Spike expects to lose its relationship with the UFC, and that network suits are taking a look at Bellator to fill the aching hole that will be left behind, and it seems like a fair assumption that there’s growth ahead for the promotion as a whole. Why cash out now?
4. Why buy when you can counter-program? This is where Strikeforce comes in again. Given enough time, there will be fluidity between the UFC and Strikeforce, allowing fighters to be called up from (and sent down to) the minors whenever Joe Silva sees something he wants, or a UFCer needs to pick up a couple of wins. We’re already starting to see these kinds of contracts come out for Strikeforce guys. As a result, there will always be enough established name talent fighting under the Strikeforce banner to put together compelling broadcasts, whether it be on Showtime, network television, or the UFC Channel. That gives Zuffa a very large hammer to aim at any competition that pops up. Dana has already shown that he’ll counter-program his competition — and usually win. If Zuffa ever does look to acquire Bellator, expect a solid counter-programming campaign first.
5. It could look like a monopoly. After Zuffa’s purchase of what was universally seen as the UFC main competition, Strikeforce, rumors have circulated that the Federal Trade Commission was taking a look at Zuffa for possible legal issues, including establishing a monopoly. In our completely informed expert opinion </sarcasm>, it’s the very existence of promotions like Bellator and Shark Fights — smaller MMA organizations that have fair access to the market — that would support Zuffa and the UFC as fair competitors. As far as the other stuff, hey, we’re just hack journalists (which may be one step up from being a “shitsite“), not lawyers. With the benefits of acquiring Bellator being debatable, why give your detractors (and the feds) ammo to use against you?
Disagree? Go ahead and make your case below. Just remember, we’re not above linking your screen name to pictures of Tito’s junk.