There’s a new player in the MMA world of promoting and they are no longer being shy about their long-term goals and ambitions.
While the UFC still has rights to match and retain the services of Gilbert, Bellator already has a storied ability to successfully acquire UFC talent. The California based promotion has acquired Rampage Jackson, Cheick Kongo, Joey Beltran and several other UFC notables over the course of their brief existence in the game.
They also took over the UFC’s former broadcasting home over at SPIKE TV.
With a virtually unlimited funding source, the promotion could realistically pose a threat to the UFC’s contract negotiations when dealing with free-agency. The UFC has built an almost notorious reputation for undercutting their roster’s pay, but as each fighter’s contract expires, Bellator could theoretically start snatching everyone up with the lure of fatter paydays.
Bellator boss, Bjorn Rebney just gave Dave Meltzer a glimpse at their future plans going forward.
Here’s a snip:
Rebney indicated this (The signing of a UFC star like Melendez) wouldn’t be the last time something like this would happen . He noted they are going to aggressively go after the best fighters when they are legally allowed to, and said they are in talks with name talent right now.
“Some of them you’d know by first name alone, and some are guys you’ve never heard of who will become the next Michael Chandler, Daniel Straus, Eddie Alvarez and Eduardo Dantas.”
Bellator will open its weekly Friday night live card schedule on Spike TV starting on Feb. 28, run though May, do monthly shows in the summer, and have a fall season of weekly shows from September through November. Rebney noted it’s going to be all out from now until he sits down to eat Thanksgiving dinner.
“We’re gong to continue to sign the best fighters, whether they are from a favela in Brazil, the frozen tundra of Siberia, or they are fighting in the UFC,” he said. “That’s the mission. The fighters are the ones fueling pay-per-view buys or fueling cable television ratings. You’re not fueling ratings by promoting Bjorn or Bellator. Promoting the fighters should be first and foremost.
“We’re going after everybody, more-and-more often. I think there’s a bigger picture issue. The biggest thing is there are two major players in MMA. It’s far and away better for the fighters. When a fighter has one option, he has no power at the negotiating table. But when he has two options, the fighter has all the negotiating power. That’s actually counter intuitive, coming from the CEO of a fight company. But that’s the truth. And my checkbook may take a shot because of it. But if the fighters can earn what they feel they deserve, overall we and the sport will be in a better place. You’re going to see much more of this as we move forward, guys coming from the smallest regions where we find undiscovered talent, to the superstars from the UFC and other guys we find in the United States.”