Posts Tagged ‘Bellator Fighting Championships’
(Courtesy of BostonHerald.com)
There was a time when Bellator Fighting Championships CEO Bjorn Rebney had to fly around the country and meet with fighters face-to-face, to try and convince them to give his promotion a shot.
My, how times have changed.
Two years removed from Bellator’s Season One tournament, Rebney certainly doesn’t have to convince anyone to fight for his promotion. And as he brings Bellator into Uncasville, Conn. at Mohegan Sun on Saturday for Bellator 48 he does so at the height of his company’s popularity.
By the years end, Bellator will have put on and aired, for free, 25 live shows on MTV. Rebney says Bellator is now seen in 35 countries and they’ll put on 27 shows next year. It’s a far cry from 2009 when Bellator put on 10 shows that could only be seen on ESPN Deportes.
“We’re in a great spot now. It just takes some time to develop and get to that stage,” Rebney said. “It didn’t surprise me two years ago that I had to go around the country and talk to fighters face-to-face and convince them of who we were. There have been a lot of failures in this phase. Fighters and managers rightfully so were really weary of another group coming in. Thankfully our motto was strong and our alliances have been great and now we’re reaping some of our benefits from that.”
Making a national mixed martial arts promotion work is not easy. The number of promotions that have failed and lost money far exceed those who are still in business and making a profit. Where others have failed, Rebney has flourished and sometimes it just takes a little vision. For Rebney, it was the tournament format and the ability to develop his own talent.
A lot of “bigger” promotions that pop up are seen scooping up recently released fighters from the UFC and jumping to the pay-per view model too soon. Rebney knew in order to make, he’d have to put a twist on the common MMA promotion. In Bellator, you can’t just walk in and get a title shot – you need to win their tournament and earn it. And on every card they stack the undercard with talented local fighters.
“There are a few things that have really been at the cornerstone or the development of this company and one of them obviously was the tournament format and objectivity where fighters could truly control their own destiny,”Rebney said. “And the other real foundational element to our development was we were not ever going to be a place where fighters that didn’t make it another organization could and would come here. We’re completely sold on the concept with as many shows as we have, you could develop your own talent.”
And Bellator’s done that. Not one of Rebney’s champions have fought in the UFC. In fact, some of their champions have had the majority of their fights in Bellator like welterweight champion Ben Askren (five of eight fights in Bellator), featherweight champ Joe Warren (five of eight), and heavyweight champ Cole Konrad (five of seven).
Saturday’s show is a great example of a typical Bellator card. Headlining for a chance at the featherweight title are this summer’s 145-pound tournament finalists Pat Curran and Marlon Sandro. Sandro is the No. 5 ranked featherweight in the world, who made his US debut with Bellator. Curran turned into everyone’s favorite underdog when he won Bellator’s Season Two lightweight tournament as a relative unknown fighter. He proved doubters wrong again advancing through this year’s 145-pound bracket. Then the undercard is stacked with some of New England’s best fighters like top welterweight Brett Oteri and a matchup between Saul Almeida and Tateki Matsuda that will most likely end with the winner moving on to a bigger state.
And heading into his fifth season this fall, Rebney expects to keep developing talent and keep moving up in the MMA world.
“We’re doing 25 live free primetime shows in 2011 with MTV2. We’re reached in 35 countries around the world. Next year, in 2012, we’ll have over 27 live and free shows on MTV2 on Saturday nights,” Rebney said. “You’ve got more than enough ability as a promoter to create that talent.
“To create the Mike Chandler’s and to create the Joe Warren’s and to create the Rick Hawn’s and the list goes on. And to create them under our banner so they truly become known by fan across the globe as Bellator fighters as opposed to a guy who couldn’t make it here or couldn’t make it there and came into Bellator. That’s kind of been a central theme in what’ve tried to do and it’s worked out really well.”
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney sits down with MMADieHards.com’s Joe Rizzo as they discuss the latest news surrounding the Bellator Fighting Championships.
Rebney recaps the current ‘Summer Series’, the rumors surrounding the possible signing of former UFC fighter Nate Marquardt, and breaks down the upcoming Season 5.
Go to mmadiehards.bnqt.com for more videos.