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Viacom buys out Bellator, looking to start on Spike in 2013

Looks like Bellator Fighting Championships is movin’ on up. USA Today announced that mega-huge media company Viacom bought majority stakes in the fighting organization, and plans to air it’s first event on Spike in 2013. The two companies have been going back and forth this whole year and decided now was the right time. Here’s what some top people in the MMA community had to say:

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney
“It’s a very, very good day for mixed martial arts.”

“It puts all of those cornerstones of ownership in place for us,” Rebney said. “Which is something that’s been so seriously lacking in the MMA space with so many different companies, including Strikeforce and the IFL and Affliction and all the different failures that have occurred. … It alleviates those issues.”

Kevin Kay, Spike TV president
“Who’s more competitive than Dana White? I am, but that’s not a horse race we really want to run…”

“As we realized that our relationship with UFC was likely to come to an end, our Viacom mergers and acquisitions folks, and us, started to have conversations with MTV2 about getting invested in a mixed martial arts promotion and become owners as opposed to renters,” Kay said. “You’re building value in something that you own, and you own it for the long term. You’re not in a constant state of negotiation.”

“The tournament format (is), we think, a great way to get the audience invested in the fighters as personalities, as characters. I think we can help, with the expertise we have in building fighters as fighters that people want to see and come back week to week.”

“The goal is HD all the time and once we get to Spike, it’ll be that way. When you’re looking at an organization like Bellator, what you see is the opportunity for growth and to grow ratings. We have big expectations.”

“There’s a lot of factors we’re going to analyze and figure out (what night works best). Also, where’s our audience used to watching it? … I don’t know that you want to program football against football or baseball against baseball.”

“I had the same fear (several years ago, about swiching promotions): ‘Are people going to watch another wrestling organization on Spike?’ That first year or so, we had probably (an average of) 600,000 viewers. Last week we had 2 million; it’s the highest-rated TNA in the history of Spike.”

“The timing remains to be seen in terms of when exactly (international expansion) occurs, but that will occur. International expansion of live Bellator events will absolutely occur.”

Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez
“We both grew together. I’m sort of peaking in my career, and it seems like so is Bellator.”

“They’ll have a ton of more money to negotiate with,” said Alvarez. “As long as I keep doing well and do what I’m supposed to do, the future looks bright.”

“We both grew together. ‘m sort of peaking in my career, and it seems like so is Bellator. … I was with a lot of promotions that failed, that flopped, and this is actually working. Everything’s coming to fruition.”

“I’m smiling ear-to-ear right now. I couldn’t be any happier. Endorsements are hard to come by when you’re on ESPN Deportes and these other smaller channels.”


“They’re No. 1 in the space, there’s just no question about it,” Kay said. “Who’s more competitive than Dana White? I am, but that’s not a horse race we really want to run around here. I think we respect that organization tremendously.”

The people from Bellator have never said anything about us,” UFC President Dana White said recently. “I have nothing to say about them either. They’re out there. They’re doing their thing. Good for them.”

Critics argue that Zuffa has become a monopoly by acquiring other brands. A thriving Bellator would erode that argument.

At the same, UFC’s continued growth and success would help Bellator and Spike because it would expand the sport as a whole, executives said.

“It’s a very, very good day for mixed martial arts as a whole,” Rebney said. “Because now you have two groups in the space that have a very substantial presence that obviously isn’t going to go anywhere for a very, very long time.”

*Source: The Underground

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