Damn, It’s True: Where Did Bellator MMA Go?
Bellator cannot simply hold an event and go dark for a month if they want to be viewed in the same sentence as the UFC in combat sports.
If Bellator MMA wants to be viewed as the second-biggest promotion in combat sports behind the UFC, they have got to do a better job of broadcasting their events to the masses.
And that starts with not going a month-plus without holding a card.
In all honesty, with the influx of talent that ONE Championship has acquired in recent months including former UFC champions Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez, they might just be No. 2 in the pecking order behind the UFC and Dana White. But for now, we’ll focus in on what Bellator is doing wrong compared to what ONE is doing right.
The last time Bellator held a card was March 29 from Temecula, California – a real hot-bed in the MMA world – with Brandon Girtz and Saad Awad headlining the card. This one actually aired on both Paramount Network and DAZN, but really, did it catch your eye? Did you tune in on either service?
Girtz and Awad is a good battle between a couple of veterans of the sport. But a headline fight with really no title implications? And that card followed up one the previous week that saw Emmanuel Sanchez best Georgi Karakhanyan in the main event. Again, not earth-shattering bouts being put together.
Bellator and Scott Coker have held a total of seven cards since the calendar turned to 2019, and maybe three – more likely two – have really been of any importance to the world outside of the diehard followers.
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Now, after back-to-back weeks of Sanchez-Karakhanyan and Girtz-Awad, Bellator returns Saturday with Bellator 220 featuring Rory MacDonald defending his title in the welterweight grand prix vs. Jon Fitch. A real big-time fight that should attract attention.
The card also features Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, one of the brightest young stars the promotion has to offer, defending her flyweight belt vs. Veta Arteaga, Benson Henderson vs. Adam Piccolotti and Phil Davis vs. Liam McGeary.
We are getting four fights and any of the four would have made for better main events than the last month has produced.
And that’s the problem.
Sure, there are stretches where it seems like the UFC is trying to hold too many fights and too many cards, but we still pay attention. The fighters still make headlines. They still nearly sell-out arenas.
There are plenty of great champions and fighters in Bellator, but if you are going to limit the exposure for them to compete and showcase their skills, you only have yourself to blame when things don’t work out as you had hoped.
Bellator cannot just hold a card here, hold a card there and then go away for a month at a time. That just doesn’t work in this day and age. It’s kind of like tape-delaying cards….oh wait….
Damn, It’s True is a weekly column posted on The Mix at FightLine by MMA reporter Dana Becker. He may be reached on Twitter @DanaBecker.
Here’s a link back to the first column regarding Conor McGregor and his inabilities to run his own Twitter account anymore.