Boxing/MMA

MMA Analysis: Bellator Headed to MTV

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We here at Inside the Cage love Bellator. 

It’s hard not to like any MMA promotion that gave fight fans a weekly show during their “seasons.”  Granted, the notoriously shaky TV deals that have left many MMA fans (and media types) miffed at the Chicago promotion. 

For the last two seasons Bellator has been aired on FOX Sports Net. Unfortunately, what many fans soon found out is that FOX really wasn’t behind Bellator often preempting their Thursday night programing for regional “stick and ball” sports. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I had set my DVR to record Bellator only to wake up to some horrible hockey game or Mountain West collegiate football came. 

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney heard your complaints, and in many cases diplomatically stated the same. As Bellator’s fourth season quickly approaches many were concerned that a new TV deal would not be consummated in time. Then, a few weeks back word quickly spread through the MMA world that Bellator and the FX cable channel were close to signing a deal. Many trumpeted the idea given that FX is seen in over 100 million homes nationwide and that the cable network has long held the interest of the young male viewer (MMA’s target demo) with such programming as The Shield and Sons of Anarchy

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All of which is why it struck many as a bit odd when Bellator announced that they had signed a three year deal with MTV2. Yes, that MTV2. 

“We are thrilled to partner with MTV2 which has such a strong audience of hard-to-reach young guys,” said Rebney in yesterday’s press release. “With a timeslot on a prominent nationally-distributed cable network aimed at young men, we now have the perfect platform to showcase our exciting, action-packed tournaments and fighters.”

"MTV2 is the perfect home for the intense mixed martial arts action of Bellator," Eric Conte, SVP, Programming and Production, MTV2 stated in the same release. "MMA is at the top of our audience's wish list, and partnering with Bellator to bring live events and specials to MTV2 made complete sense since our viewers are so hungry to see more MMA on-air." 

In recent years MTV has flirted with MMA. Bully Beatdown, a show in which bullies are given their just due at the hands of MMA fighters, is hosted by Strikeforce contender Jason Miller.  Additionally, MTV received widespread acclaim when its show World of Jenks featured WEC lightweight contender Anthony Pettis in one of its episodes. With MTV2 firmly engrained as a haven for Males 12-24 and Males 12-34, the lifeblood of MMA, teaming with the music television giant may have been a stroke of genius for Bellator. 

Beginning in March 2011, MTV2 will telecast two live tournaments per year. Each tournament is 12-weeks long with a field of eight men and women in their respective classes. What this means is more Bellator year round an issue that was a glaring flaw in the promotions quest for its own identity.