The winds of change have washed over Bellator, sweeping its founder Bjorn Rebney away on the breeze and replaced him with the man who made Strikeforce into an MMA powerhouse, Scott Coker. And more change is in store, with a media conference call yesterday dropping the nuggets that co-promotion could be a possibility and tournaments would be put on the backburner. But what exactly would be great to see of the new Bellator version 2.0? Here are some ideas:
1. A “grand prix” in every weight division. Obviously, since the organization’s focus is shying away from the tournament format, this is something that should be done sparingly. But Coker created magic with the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, and with Bellator’s deep roster of talented fighters in nearly every division, there are enough bodies to make the endeavor both feasible and compelling. And it shouldn’t be limited to just fighters currently under contract – past tournament winners and stars should be invited as well. Can you imagine a welterweight grand prix stocked with everyone from Lyman Good to Ben Saunders? Or a featherweight grand prix featuring everyone from Pat Curran to Daniel Straus to Marlon Sandro?
2. More “freakshow” fights. Yes, Kimbo Slice versus anyone would be contrary to the notion that Bellator is more sport than spectacle, but as Coker’s Strikeforce showed us (and PRIDE FC before it), there’s great appeal to watching Herschel Walker beat on younger men and invincible Russians get their asses handed to them. Up until now, Bellator has been a stalwart sports environment where “title shots are earned”. Screw title shots. Let’s see some wacky fights now.
3. Cross-promotion is compelling. Coker was a master at bringing over top names from the Japan scene. More of that would be great, but even greater would be homegrown cross-promotion where Bellator fighters take on the best from the domestic regional circuit. Legacy Fighting Championship, Resurrection Fighting Alliance, Cage Fury Fighting Championship – all of these organizations have certain fighters who’d be competitive against Bellator’s warriors. Let’s make a promotion vs. promotion theme of it!
4. A weekly “Bellator Challengers” show. There are rumors floating about that Viacom/Bellator have a UFC Fight Pass-equivalent in development, so why not put a weekly show of up-and-comers on it? It would be exactly like what we see on Spike.com with Bellator prelims, only its own abbreviated event.
These are just some ideas. There are definitely more. What would you like to see?