In order to get the full context of this post, I recommend going through Parts 1 through 4 (Links at the end of this one), though it isn’t mandatory. In any case, I’d appreciate the read, and who knows? Perhaps the discussion to follow…
So far, when we spoke about “Fixing MMA” we focused on UFC, being the biggest promotion and all that. Today, I’d like to dedicate a post to the second best… Bellator.
In the past week, leading up to UFC208, there was an article written about how fans begin to compare UFC cards to a Bellator one (see bottom of the post). How amusing… Yes, a single Bellator event MAY be considered a better offering than a single UFC card. But come on folks… consistently speaking, you have got to be kidding me.
Bellator MMA earned this title (second best) by being generally sub-par in every aspect, especially in roster.
I know there’s no room for comparison between the two organizations with regards to financial strength, and that this is a big factor in UFC’s relative success. That is why I will stay away from the roster issue.
I will focus instead, on three things:
Hey, Bellator! Eric Bischoff’s called. He wants “Monday Nitro” back.
The pro-werstling promotion WCW had a strong financial backing and was able to seduce BIG stars away from the – then – WWF. They ripped off the original product, interfered with its rating and experienced great success, to the extent of beating the dinosaur and eventually forcing it to just buy them out.
That won’t happen for Bellator. They are not even close. They don’t have Uncle Ted paying for their shows, and they don’t live in the 90s. All these ridiculous walk in videos, circa 1999 WWF are really weak. The atmosphere is amateurish at best. The broadcast looks cheap and it radiates. It creates the cheap feel…
My recommendation, therefore, and considering that money is an issue – keep it simpler. Tone down the fireworks and present a sports-like event. What can this be driving? We will discuss in item #2 on our to-do list.
UFC is bigger, stronger, more recognized. But UFC also makes mistakes and does things in certain ways. What could contribute to Bellator’s marketing and branding more than taking the very things UFC struggles with, and doing them right with what they have?
UFC cater (at least recently) mostly to “fan fantasy”? Let Bellator instill a ranking system and schedule fights in a real competition based booking. Separate yourself from the competitor and you can – at the very least – say “We do things right”. We are promoting a sport.
But this is more than a sport.
True that. So let’s say good-bye to fighters that should really retire, and give more airtime to the up and comers. The fighters who have something to prove. That money we saved on fireworks? Let’s use it to build these guys up. Perhaps hand out some bonuses…
I’m certain that there are fighters on the UFC roster, who may feel they have a better shot at making a name for themselves in a place that doesn’t constantly book “money fights”. An organization that recognizes their skill and hard work, even if their tongues aren’t as slick as others’.
The people in front of the camera and behind the microphone:
And finally, for the love of GSP… let’s replace pretty much everybody on-screen and behind the microphone. Really… it’s simply embarrassing at times to watch and listen to Bellator’s events.
From the ring announcing (Hey, It’s 2017, not 1937) through the play-by-play (Sorry, I thought there actually was one…) and all the way to the color commentating (Jerry Lawler is more tolerable).
Watching a Bellator fight starts with the old-fashioned introductions, with as much enthusiasm as the secretary at the dentist calling the next patient. It continues with the person who’s supposed to call the fight, talking about Bellator, the next event and anything else really, instead of focusing on the action taking place in the cage right now. And instead of the professional next to him giving us fans some real insights into what the fighters are doing (or supposed to be doing), we hear mostly drivel and hype… And I thought Joe Rogan is bad…
This is the face of your organization. Make it pretty, make it smart, and make it professional. If you’re looking for a real play-by-play guy, I know a guy. His name rhymes with Spike foldberg. You just signed a really smart MMA fighter called Rory, you signed Chael Sonnen, and Benson Henderson knows a thing or two about MMA. Let them step in and provide commentary. Or just hire a retired fighter who still feels the fire. Sticking with the motley crew you currently have will never raise the bar.
Will all of the above provide an equalizer? Absolutely not.
What can it do to help? It can raise the promotion’s value in the eyes of both fans, as well as – wait for it….. – Potential investors. Go find your uncle Ted. Then, with Uncle Ted’s money you can start planning the storming of the castle.
What do you think?
What is Bellator doing well?
Where can they improve?
Here are the links to: