Bellator To Offer First PPV Event In November, But Can It Compete With UFC Cards?
Bellator will offer its first PPV card on Nov. 2 and Chair & CEO Bjorn Rebney "surely will have his promotional chops tested like never before during the run-up to an event situated on one of the busiest, most compelling stretches in UFC history," according to Josh Gross of ESPN.com. The Bellator event featuring Tito Ortiz against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is sandwiched between UFC 166, which will feature Cain Velasquez's third fight with Junior dos Santos, and UFC 167, the 20th anniversary show headlined by Georges St-Pierre against Johny Hendricks. Many fans are "likely to opt against paying their local cable or satellite distributor $35-45 to witness 38-year-old Ortiz fight 35-year-old Jackson." No MMA promotion except the UFC has "marshaled a successful pay-per-view campaign, and history says a weak response for Ortiz and Jackson, despite their strong brands and long-held UFC ties, is the most likely outcome." Rebney said that Bellator is "primed for success any time it chooses to go" to PPV, which "won't be more than a couple of times a year at the beginning." Rebney: "We've got the best distribution platform in the history of combat sports, and that's Spike. ... We're not going to do it month in and month out. We're not going to throw up PPV after PPV after PPV and say, 'Here, buy this.'" Rebney added, "We're not going to throw up PPVs that belong on free TV. If we've got an amazing card, an amazing event, we may do it on PPV. We're not going to do it every three or four weeks." Gross wrote even Rebney's "most vocal critics would concede he did well by advancing Bellator up the food chain to the point that Viacom, a major media conglomerate, took notice and purchased a controlling stake" (ESPN.com, 8/6).