Bellator 47 marked the promotion’s first show in Canada, and the organization’s president, Bjorn Rebney, is anticipating their return.
Rama, Ontario was the fortunate town that welcomed Bellator’s inaugural Canadian show. Casino Rama hosted seven fights, including two featherweight tournament semifinals matches and a sprinkle of homegrown talent.
Rebney felt the overall show was a success and noted some highlights.
“I thought it was great,” Rebney told MMADieHards.com. “The people there were spectacular to work with. They were the invested in the game; they were the first in this area of Canada to do it, and the first in this area of the province to do it. They packed the house, there wasn’t an empty seat in the house and it was a loud crowd.
“There were some great fights. Some great local talent pulled through. The heavyweight fight was explosive and spectacular. I thought all around it was a great show.”
Looking forward to the featherweight tournament finale, Rebney is excited to see the two finalists go for their shot at $100,000.
Marlon Sandro and Nazareno Malegarie were the first semifinalist bout at Bellator 47. Sandro grabbed a decision victory in a crowd-pleaser. The scrap was so entertaining that Rebney had a tough time calling either man a loser.
“I thought going into the tournament we had four of the top 10 featherweights in the world,” Rebney explained. “I thought any one of the four guys could take it, but what Marlon and Nazareno did (Saturday) was awesome. I thought Marlon technically looked really strong. I think he did a great job against Nazareno.
“But, I mean, how do you take anything away from Nazareno in that fight? He fought like a warrior. I’m definitely going to be having him back.”
As for Sandro’s opponent — Pat Curran defeated Ronnie Mann in the night’s headline bout — Rebney believes he possesses the talent to possibly make the tourney final a showstopper.
“Pat is an amazing fighter and he showed that again,” Rebney stated. “Pat is a fighter who is at an elite, elite level. Having him and Marlon in the finals is a great show for us.”
Aside from the fantastic featherweight finale at Bellator 48 on Aug. 20 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., Rebney is enthusiastic about the promotion’s other happenings.
Bellator talent in its lighter divisions is established. It gives Rebney a sense of accomplishment, considering that was the organization’s initial goal when it started, although it is now time to focus on moving up.
In weight classes, that is.
“We have to do as good a job as we’ve done with the lighter what classes, with the 205 (pounders) and heavyweights,” Rebney said. “(The) 135, 145, 155, 170 (weight divisions) have really been the focus of the company, but now that we have to do the same sort of scouting job for 205 and up. I know my team will do it. I have an incredibly solid team working with me that can do it. I know we can get it done and that’s really our main focus right now.”
The phase of growing the heavyweight division has already begun and two of Bellator’s larger men competed at Bellator 47 in a fight that was fireworks for the two minutes it lasted.
Neil Grove knocked out Zak Jensen in their encounter, and the convincing victory put “Goliath” in the Bellator heavyweight division.
“Without question, Neil is in the tournament,” Rebney said. “Neil is 3-1 in Bellator with a total fight time of 4 minutes and 17 seconds. Plus he is coming off a win like that and has willingness to knock people out. It’s compelling to watch Neil fight, so yes, he will definitely be in the Bellator heavyweight tournament.”
Jensen, who buckled Grove with a left in the opening seconds of the fight and nearly pulled off a triangle choke before bowing to ground strikes, figures to get another look, if not a tournament spot.
The promotion, who’s name translates into “warrior” in Latin, has came along way since they began on ESPN Deportes. Bellator is now broadcast on MTV2, and theScore in Canada. Rebney has acquired a talented group of mixed martial artists and etched a place among the respected MMA promotions.
Rebney envisions the company expanding as the gain more notoriety, and Canada is in Bellator’s future.
If the Great White North wants Rebney and his show back in the country, he will be happy to oblige.
“I’ll be back in Canada as quickly as they will have me,” Rebney said. “This was a spectacular venue, great people to work with and the people here have a commitment to mixed martial arts. I would love to be back here in Canada.
“If Rama will do it, I would like to bring a show here in the fall during Season 5.”