Tito Ortiz’s neck injury, which precipitated the cancellation of Bellator’s Pay-Per-View plans has unwittingly become a blessing in disguise for Bellator.
Bellator is currently a product that is devotedly followed by hardcore mixed martial arts fans, and casual fans who tune in if they have heard of a fighter on the card, or if they found it on television while flipping through the channels.
The hardcore fans of the sport wanted to watch this card for King Mo vs Emanuel Newton, Pat Curran vs Daniel Strauss, the “Fight Master” finale with Joe Riggs vs Mike Bronzoulis, and of course the co-headliner, Chandler vs Alvarez 2. Unfortunately for Bellator, casual fans would most likely never have heard of most of these fighters, save for Eddie Alvarez and Muhammed Lawal. This is why they decided to headline the card with two MMA legends, Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz.
There were two major problems with the Bellator 106 PPV. Hardcore fans had no desire to see a fight between Rampage and Tito, because they knew that both are on their way out, and that neither fighter has won a fight since 2011. The other problem was the price. $45 dollars is simply too much to ask for an unproven product, with a headliner that really means nothing in the long-term of the sport. The PPV was doomed for failure from the beginning. Casual fans do not know that fighters like Newton, Chandler and Curran are top-level athletes. They saw Tito and Rampage on the commercials and thought, well, that is a cool fight, but I won’t pay $45 to see only two fighters on a card I have heard of.
PPVs live or die by casual fan interest. Hardcore fans will always purchase PPVs, whether it be UFC, Invicta, or Bellator. The casual market is where the money lies, which is why you see guys like Anderson Silva, Brock Lesnar, Georges St. Pierre, BJ Penn and other superstars historically leading in PPV buys.
Now, because of the promotional muscle Viacom has used to promote this card, fans around the world, both casual and hardcore, can and will tune in to see the top fighters in Bellator on free television.
Because of the major promotion, casual fans will watch this, realize Bellator has top-level talent, and will continue to watch. Now, everyday fans can watch the truly competitive fights on the card for free, and this will cause a boon to fan interest due to the amazing product being placed on free television instead of PPV.
This also leaves room for Bellator to promote Tito and Rampage, and possibly give them an outlet to prove that they still have the potential to turn their careers around. Rampage has just been scheduled to fight Joey Beltran at Bellator 108, which is almost guaranteed to be a standup, rock-em-sock-em robots slugfest. Bellator will then have highlights to show for the inevitable Tito versus Rampage fight in the future. This will also give them a chance to promote Tito, and if his optimism is any indication of how quick his recovery will be, we may see Tito back in the cage sooner rather than later.
Bellator will benefit from this change-up. Nearly no one will pay $45 to see a main event with two fighters that are over the hill. Even casual fans will watch three championship fights on free television.
Even though Bellator has been spread thin recently with all of their top-level talent on hold for this Saturday’s card, it will all be worth it in the end. During and on subsequent cards after Saturday, their ratings will undoubtedly skyrocket after casual fans witness the amazing talent that Bellator has in their ranks.Tags: "bj Penn", Anderson Silva, Bellator, Brock Lesnar, Daniel Strauss, Eddie Alvarez, emanuel newton, georges st. pierre, Joe Riggs, king mo, michael chandler, mike bronzoulis, mma, Muhammed Lawal, Pat Curran, Quinton Jackson, rampage jackson, tito ortiz, Tito Ortiz Bellator