Bellator MMA is dipping its toes back into the PPV waters. The #2 promotion hasn't put on a PPV event since Bellator 120 on May 17, 2014. This was the card for that event:
Main Card - PPV
Quinton Jackson vs. Muhammed Lawal - Light Heavyweight - 205 lbs.
Michael Chandler vs. Will Brooks - Lightweight - 155 lbs.
Tito Ortiz vs. Alexander Shlemnko - Light Heavyweight - 205 lbs.
Alexander Volkov vs. Blagoy Ivanov - Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Ricky Rainey vs. Michael Page - Welterweight - 170 lbs.
Prelims - Spike
Eric Smith vs. Cheick Kongo - Heavyweight - 265 lbs.
Nate Jolley vs. Marcin Held - Catchweight 158 lbs.
Fabricio Guerreiro vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev - Lightweight - 155 lbs.
Goiti Yamauchi vs. Mike Richman - Featherweight 145 lbs.
Early Prelims – Spike.com
Zach Underwood vs. Austin Lyons - Catchweight 153 lbs.
Mike Wessell vs. Justin Frazier - Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Andy Uhrich vs. Ben Brewer - Welterweight 170 lbs.
Initial buy rate numbers came in at around the 50,000 mark, but as more time passed the number increased to 100,000. Spike TV President Kevin Kay backed up that number saying the 100,000 buy rate is "dead on accurate." Kay also said, "I'm hesitant to answer, because...we haven't done pay-per-views, I'll stand by that 100,000 though.
More than a few industry insiders were both surprised and doubtful of that number. Including Dana White who said, "It shocks me, because no it didn't. When pressed White said, "He (Bjorn Rebney) didn't know what the gate was. If he didn't know what his gate was, but he did 100,000 pay-per-view buys...the guy is a f-ing clown."
So what can Scott Coker and Bellator MMA expect for Bellator NYC? The promotion makes their Madison Square Garden debut in New York City and headlines with longtime bitter rivals Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva. Here are the cards for both events:
Bellator NYC Main Card - PPV
Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) vs. Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) - Light Heavyweight 205
Fedor Emelianenko (36-4, 1 NC) vs. Matt Mitrione (11-5) - Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Lorenz Larkin (18-5, 1 NC) vs. Douglas Lima (28-6) - Welterweight 170 lbs.
Michael Chandler (16-3) vs. Brent Primus (7-0) - Lightweight 155 lbs.
Zach Freemen (8-2) vs. Aaron Pico (0-0) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Bellator 180 Main Card - Spike
Phil Davis (17-3, 1 NC) vs. Ryan Bader (22-5) - Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Chinzo Machida (5-2) vs. James Gallagher (6-0) - Featherweight 145 lbs.
Neiman Gracie (5-0) vs. Dave Marfone (5-2) - Welterweight 170 lbs.
Alice Yauger (4-5) vs. Heather Hardy (0-0) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Prelims – Bellator.com
Ryan Couture (10-5) vs. Haim Gozali (7-3) - Welterweight 170 lbs.
Jerome Mickle (2-1) vs. Anthony Giacchina (1-1) - Lightweight 155 lbs.
John Salgado (4-7-1) vs. Hugh McKenna (0-1) - Catchweight 168 lbs.
Sergio da Silva (6-8) vs. Matt Rizzo (9-2, 1 NC) - Catchweight 130 lbs.
Bradley Desir (9-5) vs. Nate Grebb (3-1) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
From what is being said, it appears Bellator MMA is back in the PPV business. Jon Slusser who is the Spike TV President for sports and specials indicated as such by saying, "This is a new line of business for us, this is the first of many that we will be doing. Scott (Coker) did not put together a single card and hopes that it works or see if it works. This is a new revenue stream for us and it will allow us in time to continue to build up Bellator." This is a bold statement to make considering no one knows how this PPV will do numbers-wise.
Scott Coker put things in perspective when he said, "We're not going to do monthly pay-per-view just to do pay-per-views. We're going to build up to big fights more like the boxing model, and when the time is right, we'll do the big, big fights. So when we put the big events together, like we have on June 24, then we'll do it on a PPV event."
I like the card, but would I purchase it if I didn't cover Bellator for the site?
Yes, I would. I think there are enough big names and intriguing match-ups worthy of the price tag. The main and co-main events provide enough curiosity to make me want to see them.
Lorenz Larkin who is getting an instant title shot in his Bellator debut against Douglas Lima should be an excellent fight and is must see in my opinion. Michael Chandler defends his lightweight title for the second time when he faces undefeated Brent Primus. Chandler is one of the best lightweights in the world and is currently ranked #7 in the MMA Torch rankings. World class wrestler Aaron Pico makes his professional debut when he steps into the cage against Zach Freeman. Bellator must be confident in the twenty year old's skills to be putting him in there against a fighter with ten professional fights under his belt.
Bellator 180 on Spike is also very solid and makes a great lead into the PPV. The light heavyweight title fight between Phil Davis and Ryan Bader should bring a lot of viewers to the free Spike telecast. It's up to Bellator to turn those viewers into PPV buyers.
Jon Slusser and Scott Coker are all in. Is the risk worth the reward? Coker is on record saying, "I think this fight card is as good, if not better, than any in the first half of this year. And when you're talking about the pay-per-view business, I think $49.95 is a very fair price. It's $10 cheaper than (the UFC)." He went on to say, "Anything (in the 200,000 range) would be respectable. Anything with a 3 in front of it would be fantastic. Anything with a 4 in front of it would be unbelievable. I really feel that we can do something with a 3 in front of it."
Only time will tell if the risk was worth it. Regardless, I applaud them for taking it.
The Fighting Champion
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