(Photo via Sherdog)
By Brian J. D’Souza
Bellator’s planned November pay-per-view headlined by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Tito Ortiz is what it is: two once-great names that are way past their “best before” date. Fans, media and pundits were faster to criticize the match than a Jewish mother criticizing her own kids.
There’s no mystery as to why Bellator is entering the fold — the pay-per-view marketplace is where the profits are for MMA promoters. Yet as Yahoo’s Kevin Iole is fond of noting in one of his latest columns, the only entity in the 20-year history of MMA that has successfully pulled off profitable pay-per-view shows has been the UFC. Merely attempting to break even with a Tito-Rampage main event might be over-reaching on Bellator’s part.
Part of what Iole writes is true, including how Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney is contradicting his previous statements about Bellator aiming to build stars from scratch rather than relying on former UFC fighters. But it is myopic of Kevin Iole to rail off biased theories about how the Bellator PPV is just a ploy in the legal drama between Bellator and Eddie Alvarez, who are feuding over the matching clause in Bellator’s contract. As Iole argues:
“Bellator also looks petty by even putting on a pay-per-view show, because it is likely just a legal maneuver in its court case with top lightweight contender Eddie Alvarez. Alvarez attempted to sign a UFC contract, but Rebney contended Bellator matched the UFC offer and that Alvarez belongs to Bellator.
That’s for a court to decide, but it’s unconscionable for Bellator officials to tie up a young athlete in the prime of his career. But Bellator, which in the suit said it planned to feature Alvarez in a pay-per-view to compete against the UFC offer, now has to go forward.”
A talented fighter like Eddie Alvarez does deserve his chance in the UFC. Unfortunately, the cream does not rise to the top, especially in the fight game: Without the right management, political maneuverings and opportunities, it simply spoils unnoticed and unheralded on the sidelines. Where Iole misses the point over both the Alvarez situation, as well as the true significance of the Bellator PPV, has to do with the context that he explains these situations occurring within.
Bellator didn’t trip over itself to find Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson. They just happened to be the only available and marketable MMA fighters who fit into Viacom/Bellator’s plans. Interestingly, the Eddie Alvarez situation speaks directly to the reason why so few free agents exist in MMA, because of how Alvarez’s MMA contract essentially enslaved him to his promotion.