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Tag: Bellator

The UFC Can Learn a Lesson From Bellator: How to Promote Bad Fights


(Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

The UFC said “Hey, did you hear there’s UFC FIGHTS™ on tonight? The finest athletes in the world are facing off and it’ll be action packed. Watch it!”

So we took their word for it, and watched. The athletes faced off, but they weren’t the finest in the world, and it wasn’t action packed. The athletes were green, regional-caliber competitors and there was more labored breathing and bouts of stalling than action.

Then the next event came. “It’s FIGHT WEEEEEEK! UFC FIGHTS™ are on again. The finest athletes in the world are doing battle in the Octagon™. Be sure to watch!”

We were skeptical, but being loyal MMA fans, we watched again. We were let down again. We voiced our concerns, only to be told we weren’t Real Fans if we didn’t appreciate the fights the UFC gave us. Not wanting to lose our MMA streed cred, we watched the next event that promised the top 1% of fighters battling in the Superbowl of MMA only to be disappointed.

This is what being an MMA fan has been like for the past year or two–especially since the UFC went full “World Fucking Domination” on us.

Fight cards are tougher to sit through because the talent levels are lower. Sometimes there’s two of these regional-level, star-sparse cards on the same day! And I’m not ragging on UFC Fight Night 42 specifically; on paper the card was pretty decent for a free Fight Night Card. I’m referring to the general lowering of the bar in terms of card quality that’s become undeniable as of late. The most insulting part is all these events are, for the most part, marketed the same way: Here’s awesome UFC Fights. They’ll be good. Watch them or you’re not an MMA fan.

And judging by the decline in interest (and PPV buys), lots of viewers decided they weren’t fans. And I’m not going to go on for much longer because I’ve written about the issue of over-saturation extensively on CagePotato, but the UFC can learn an important lesson from Bellator regarding how it promotes less-than-stellar fights: Be honest.

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Bellator 121 Results: Sokoudjou and James Thompson Emerge Victorious, Thompson Gives Rambling, Incoherent Promo About Testicles


(Oh yeah, and this happened. / via Zombie Prophet).

Bellator held it’s first extremely lackluster summer series fight card tonight with Bellator 121. We take a lot of heat for being negative, but this card warrants the hate. It was easily the worst card (on-paper) Bellator has put on in ages.

Let’s talk about the two fights you probably care about most: James Thompson vs. Eric Prindle and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Professional Jobber Terry Davinney

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Watch a Bellator Cameraman Perv Out on a Female Fan [GIF]

We’ve seen lots of stuff in MMA. Some good. Some bad. Some disgusting.

This GIF is a combination of all three, perhaps. During the Bellator 121 prelims, a cameraman zoomed in on a woman’s upper torso in a way that made their not-so-honorable intentions clear. Check it out after the jump (and h/t to Zombie Prophet):

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Monday Memo: Ben Askren’s ONE FC Win, “Bitches in a Beauty Salon,” And a UFC Champion’s Pay Gripes


(Photo by Mags Icasiano/Rappler)

By Brian J. D’Souza

Five under-the-radar stories you may have missed last week…

BEN ASKREN WINS…NOW WHAT?

Exiled from Bellator, refused a contract with the UFC, and having rejected an offer from the World Series of Fighting, undefeated welterweight and 2008 Olympian Ben Askren chose to seek his fortunes in Singapore-based ONE FC.

Last Friday, Askren improved his record to 13-0 in his promotional debut against Bakhtiyar Abbasov (now 11-3), winning in the first round via arm-triangle choke. This marks the third opponent in a row that Askren has finished. Where does this leave the American wrestler?

Askren spoke to CagePotato.com earlier this year and said that he believed he was the best welterweight in the world, with a caveat: “I definitely agree that [Johny Hendricks] should be ranked number one because I haven’t had the ability to prove I’m number one.”

Askren pointed to bantamweight Bibiano Fernandes and lightweight Mike Chandler as top fighters outside the UFC who could give a good challenge to the UFC’s champions at their respective divisions, but he was adamant that the bulk of the sport’s top talent lies within the UFC.

Unfortunately for Askren, there is no reason why the UFC—or any other MMA promotion—has to sign top contenders like himself. Combat sports have always been a business, with the promoter’s mandate being to maximize revenue.

Unlike the organizational titles in place in MMA, there are world titles sanctioned by third parties in boxing. This means that contenders can climb the ladder with each win against ranked opposition, earning leverage towards a title shot. The system is wide-open to corruption—managers and promoters often pay cold hard cash to advance their boxers in the rankings, evidenced by the 1999 IBF rankings scandal. However, with the right backers, fighters can have more career traction in boxing than currently exists in MMA.

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Monday Night Wars Alert: UFC and Bellator to Go Head-to-Head in September


(Photo via Getty)

The UFC will be heading to Connecticut on September 5th. The card will air on FS1. Normally we wouldn’t cover such a banal, uninteresting announcement, but something makes it very special: September 5th also marks the date of Bellator’s season 11 debut, and it’s also being held in Connecticut to boot—a mere 10 miles away.

To say this is a big deal is an understatement. Perhaps Bellator’s rumored 100k PPV buys for Bellator 120 turned the UFC’s head, and now they view the promotion as a threat? And what about ratings? Will Bellator and SpikeTV be able to out-draw the UFC and FOX Sports 1?

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Update: Bellator 120 Pulled Over 100,000 Pay-Per-View Buys [WHAAAAAT?]


(Looks like Bjorn is dick-ridin’ all the way to the bank. / Photo via TheExaminer)

Earlier this week, initial estimates pegged Bellator 120: Rampage vs. King Mo as earning 65,000 pay-per-view buys — a number that exceeded the basement-level expectations of most observers. But it turns out that Bellator 120 wasn’t just a moral victory. As first reported by Sherdog (and later confirmed by MMAFighting), Bellator’s inaugural pay-per-view card did over 100,000 buys, making it an unqualified success

Sherdog’s report was based on an anonymous source “speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release buy-rate data.” The source explained that the buyrate information will be readily available in Viacom’s SEC filings later this year.

In a statement released to MMAFighting, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney played it cool: “I won’t be discussing specific PPV buy rates, but what I can say is that with one of our main events falling out just seven days before our first PPV, a six figure plus buy rate is a good starting point. But, it’s just that, a starting point. My focus is to continue working with our partners at Spike to create the type of big event experience that we created on the 17th.”

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UFC 173 vs. Bellator 120: Which Did More Web Traffic?

By Matt Saccaro

Despite the UFC’s legal team being among CagePotato’s most avid readers, we can’t convince them to give us any insights into the UFC’s PPV business. We can only judge a card’s interest by the PPV estimates that circulate a few weeks after an event has passed.

There’s another way to judge fans’ interest in a particular fight card though: Web traffic.

In between discussions about which IFL team was the best (I’m a huge Quad City Silverbacks fan), we at CagePotato headquarters started opining about how Bellator 120: Rampage vs. King Mo would compare to a low-level UFC PPV. Some of us said it’d bury an event like UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw in terms of traffic, some of us said it would get buried.

Now that fight week(end) is over, we can jump into AnalyticsPotato mode and see which fight card wowed the web more. And to be clear, I’m using unique page views as the primary metric to judge interest. And by “coverage” we mean articles before/during/after the card that are about the card. Seems obvious but it’s important to be clear.

Earlier in the week, we reported on the CagePotato twitter that Bellator 120 received about 34% more traffic, but that calculation was made in error. There were a couple of articles in our UFC 173 coverage that I forgot to include in the tally. However, even with these pieces added, Bellator 120 still wins out. Bellator 120′s coverage, on the whole, received 11% more traffic than UFC 173′s.

Other random insights:

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Sokoudjou, James Thompson Added to Bellator 121 Main Card [PRIDE NEVA DIE]


(I love the serious, half-bored expressions on the Japanese fans’ faces, as if Giant Silva vs. James Thompson is something totally normal that happens all the time. / Photo via Sherdog)

If Bellator’s “Rampage vs. King Mo” pay-per-view proved one thing, it’s that the promotion could have a future as the world’s premiere home for high-profile freak show MMA. Sure, they’ll never be able to compete with the UFC in terms of talent, but who else is going to throw together open-weight fights featuring broken-down legends or allow furious losing fighters to grab the mic and insult high-ranking executives in profanity-filled tirades?

To put it another way — Bellator isn’t the best MMA league in the world, but it has the potential to be the craziest, and that makes it undeniably compelling. The promotion surely recognizes this, which could help explain the new signings of MMA freak-show veterans Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and James Thompson. Both fighters have been added to the main card of Bellator 121, June 6th at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma (aka, the event that just lost its legitimate headliner).

Sokoudjou’s career highlights include knocking out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the #1 greatest betting-odds upset in MMA history, then putting together a disappointing 1-2 run in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division, then making it to the finals of DREAM’s 2009 Super Hulk Grand Prix, where he was knocked out by Ikuhisa Minowa, of all people. Sokoudjou has gone 7-6 since then, and has lost his two most recent fights by KO/TKO. He’ll be making his Bellator debut against Terry Davinney, a 10-6 journeyman from Grand Rapids, Michigan who scored a 15-second KO of Matt Van Buren in his sole Bellator appearance.

James Thompson, of course, is best known for the angry faces he was making before getting dummied up by Aleksander Emelianenko at PRIDE 28, smushing noses with Don Frye before beating him to death, suffering a questionable stoppage loss against Kimbo Slice, and an even more questionable decision loss against Mariusz Pudzianowski. He’s won his last three fights, most recently submitting Colin Robinson at something called Underdog Xtreme Championships 2 in Belfast back in March. At Bellator 121, he’ll be facing former heavyweight title contender Eric Prindle, who has suffered defeats in his last four Bellator appearances.

After the jump: Videos of Sokoudjou and Thompson beating the crap out of Bob Sapp.

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What the Hell Do We Make of Bellator 120?


(Because Getty had no images from last night. / Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney didn’t give out the gate numbers at the post-fight presser, even when asked (which probably means they were bad). And it’s still too early to know how Bellator 120 performed at the box office. So, financially, Bellator’s first PPV can’t definitively be called a success or a failure.

Regarding entertainment value, however, Bellator 120 was a success. There were some pacing issues, yes, but overall the card delivered.

In the first fight, Michael Page did his best Anderson Silva impression, knocking out Ricky Rainey (who’s name was hilariously spelled wrong at the post-fight presser) after taunting him mercilessly. In the next bout, former Bellator heavyweight champ Alexander Volkov scored an upset submission win over Blagoi Ivanov.

Then came Tito Ortiz vs. Alexander Shlemenko. Ortiz was the laughing stock of this card, without a doubt. He was a relic from a bygone era who hadn’t won a fight in three years. His ridiculous pre-fight promos (he promised to make Shlemenko “literally shit himself”) only made him look worse. Shlemenko, on the other hand, was Bellator’s middleweight champ and a stern Russian killer. He’d have no problem with Ortiz despite the considerable size difference, or so the world thought. But Ortiz won the fight. He submitted Shlemenko with an arm-triangle choke in the very first round. Then he gave the worst post-fight interview of all time; he pretended to be Hulk Hogan.

As crazy as Ortiz-Shlemenko was, it wasn’t the emotional high point of the PPV, nor was Michael Chandler vs. Will Brooks. Chandler-Brooks was not a particularly anticipated match. In fact, the entire Bellator PPV was centered around the rubber match between Chandler and Eddie Alvarez. When Alvarez withdrew due to a concussion, many thought it meant death for Bellator 120. Will Brooks was thrown in against Chandler, but it was a squash match—or at least that’s what conventional wisdom held. But Brooks upended fans and pundits, beating Chandler via split decision. He was made of sterner stuff than we all gave him credit for.

Then we had the main event, Rampage Jackson vs. King Mo. The fight itself was banal. Mo dominated Rampage with wrestling while Rampage landed a couple of decent shots throughout the fight. It seemed like a pretty easy decision win for King Mo, but the judges didn’t see it that way; they awarded Rampage with a unanimous decision. What happened after the fight was the real draw though. King Mo and Rampage started jaw-jacking. During the Spike TV portion of the broadcast, King Mo accused Bjorn Rebney of “dick riding” Rampage. He didn’t hold in such feelings in his post-fight speech, nor did he silence himself at the post-fight presser. Him and Rampage yelled at each other while the presser stream intermittently died possibly due to the sheer volume of viewers.

So what’s the fallout?

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Bellator 120: Rampage Edges King Mo, Will Brooks Out-Points Michael Chandler

Tonight, Bellator will make its first foray into the PPV market after a botched attempt last year. Bellator 120 was originally scheduled to be main-evented by the rubber match between Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler, but Alvarez recently withdrew due to a concussion. Bellator matched up Chandler with Will Brooks, and bumped King Mo vs. Rampage Jackson into the card’s main event. We’ve also got Tito Ortiz vs. Alexander Shlemenko, Blagoi Ivanov vs. Alexander Volkov, and Michael Page vs. Ricky Rainey.

In this liveblog of Bellator’s first-ever PPV, CagePotato social media kosmonaut and weekend editor Matt Saccaro will be giving you the results for the PPV portion of the fight card, in case you’re too cheap to buy it or don’t have access to it for some reason. He’ll also be posting quick results from the rest of the event, as well as his typical analysis of commercials on the Spike TV portion of the broadcast.

The PPV begins at 10:00 pm EST. The Spike TV preliminaries start at 8:00 pm EST. We’ll start posting results after the jump shortly thereafter. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest.

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