Bellator’s PPV Success Dependent On Former UFC, Strikeforce Stars
Just like that, the weight of Bellator MMA’s future on pay-per-view was placed squarely on the shoulders of two fighters who made their name in other promotions.
Originally, the promotion wanted to focus Saturday’s card on the conclusion of the trilogy between lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler. That, though, was thrown by the wayside after Alvarez suffered a head injury in training. And while Chandler will remain on the card – in an interim title co-main event fight with Will Brooks – the shine has been dulled a bit.
Insert former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and ex-Strikeforce titleholder Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal to carry the torch. The two meet in the new main event for the Season 10 light heavyweight tournament title, and with it, a future championship match and a big, over-sized check.
Sure, Bellator 120 still has the likes of middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko meeting another former UFC legend in Tito Ortiz, the previously mentioned Chandler-Brooks title-bout, rising star Michael Page, another tournament finale featuring Cheick Kongo and a handful of other worthy prelim fights; but all the pressure of the night will be on Jackson and Lawal.
And they should deliver.
If you asked a handful of casual MMA fans a week or so ago about this card, mentioning the Alvarez-Chandler headline bout and the “Rampage” vs. “King Mo” co-main, without using those phrases, most probably believed Jackson-Lawal was receiving top billing.
With all due respect to Alvarez and Chandler, who are two of the best fighters in the world regardless of weight class or promotion, but Jackson has starred in UFC main event and on the big screen as the new Mr. T in the latest “A-Team” remake. And Lawal is known for his outlandish entrances that came complete with girls and a crown while he rose to the top in Strikeforce.
They both give the fans something fighters like Alvarez and Chandler prefer to ignore: the entertainment aspect. Heck, to match Lawal’s “king” crown, Jackson wears a large dog chain to the cage.
Lawal’s already promised to resume his usual entrance, posting on Twitter throughout the build up to the fight the accounts of those female models planning to walk with him. Jackson will undoubtedly bring out his own trademark howl, and even before they step inside the cage, these two will have given Bellator what they need most.
Regardless of how non-technical the expected brawl between Jackson and Lawal turns out, as long as they make sure to carry themselves in their usual pre-fight manner, the pay-per-view buys should be close to what they would have been with Alvarez-Chandler in the main event.
And if you aren’t into seeing a good old-fashioned brawl like Rampage and King Mo will give us, you can always just tune in to see Ortiz get whipped up on by a middleweight.
By Dana Becker | Twitter