Bellator has certainly made some waves in recent months by inking former UFC star “Rampage” Jackson to a contract, signing established vets like John Alessio and Diego Nunes, and adding legend Randy Couture to its television programming. Of course, the promotion also moved to SPIKE earlier this year, and in doing so, demolished the ratings it was pulling while airing on MTV 2. So, is UFC boss man Dana White concerned about any of this? Not surprisingly, no. While speaking to MMA Junkie.com recently, the UFC President had this to say about Bellator and its parent company Viacom.
“They’re never going to be as good as us. This is what we do 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Christmas. Easter. Let Christmas time come. Viacom shuts down from Dec. 3 to after the new year and then all the big holidays in between. Christmas? I’m on the f—ing phone on Christmas. Easter? I’m on the phone. Thanksgiving? I’m on the phone. Bad s–t happens in our business every day, and if something real bad happens, I’m on a f—ing plane on Christmas Day flying to fix it. That’s the difference between us and everybody else.”
“We’re the original. We invested in this thing and believed in it when nobody else did. Viacom MMA, they’re just a ‘me, too.’ They didn’t believe in this thing when we pitched them ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ They didn’t believe in it so much that we had to invest $10 million into that show, and then they liked it a lot better after that happened. But they never got it, and they never will.”
Even White’s critics would have a tough time arguing that he’s not intrinsically linked to UFC operations as well as its success, and clearly ZUFFA took considerably risks investing in a sport that hardly anyone in the mainstream world wanted to touch. And besides, at this stage, no one should be seriously arguing that Bellator is a legitimate threat to the UFC. That said, it is important to remember that Bellator has been around now for four years, and has held 96 events during that time. Not many people likely predicted that when Bellator got off the ground in 2009.
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