If television ratings are indicative of a pulse, then the numbers Bellator’s 110th installment on Friday night pulled in are pretty clear evidence that the number two MMA promotion in the world doesn’t just have a strong heartbeat, it’s alive and kicking. As per MMAPayout, the event averaged 880,000 viewers, with the main event tussle between ex-UFC champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and ex-Bellator champ Christian M’Pumbu snagging over a million sets of eyeballs.
This is good news for a few different reasons.
First, it seems the investment in Rampage is paying off. Whatever they sunk on Tito Ortiz looks to have been akin to flushing money down the toilet, because when you “buy” a former UFC champ, the idea is that they’ll eventually fight. But when it comes to Rampage, he’s fought, he’s won and he’s talked trash – which is obviously what viewers want, hence the number of people tuning in when he fights. Remember: ratings equals ad revenue, and ad revenue makes everyone at SpikeTV happy.
Another positive coming out of Bellator’s excellent season 10 start is that it strengthens the organization’s place in the market, which in turn helps fighters everywhere. Everyone knows the ills that can come from a market monopolized by one promotion (i.e., the UFC) – if you have one company as the only viable option for employment, then that company will have too much control over how much fighters are worth as well as the terms of those employment contracts fighters must sign. But more successful organization in the marketplace means more options for fighters to choose from, and therein lies the foundation of their bargaining power. Bellator didn’t actually have to sign Gilbert Melendez to enrich Melendez’s life, all they had to do was give him a better offer than he was getting from the UFC; after that, the renewed bargaining between the UFC and Melendez’s manager did the rest.
Finally, a strong outing by Bellator is good news for MMA fans. Because at the end of the day, does it really matter what the logo says on the floor of the cage when the fights are good and the violence is thrilling? Fighting is fighting. Besides, watching Rampage clock M’Pumbu, or Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler beat each other senseless, or Patricky Pitbull clobber some fool is a much better way to spend a Friday night than just watching old Murder, She Wrote reruns.
Trust me, I know from experience.