The distance between the #1 and #’s 2 & 3 are vast in the world of professional mixed martial arts. When the distance between the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the closest things resembling competitors; the World Series of Fighting and Bellator MMA is as great as it is, desperate times call for desperate measures. One doesn’t need a look at their financial books, one need only look at the crowd size of their televised events to know that even if neither company is at immediate risk to going out of business, they are both desperate to bring new and existing mma fans into their respective folds. Which brings us to the event, if one can call it that from this past week.
World Series of Fighting challenged Bellator MMA to a cross promotional pay per view event.
Why? The same reason Sirius and XM are now the same satellite radio company. The same reason Pro Wrestling USA was formed in the 1980s. The same reason kids get in free at the local rodeos and wet t shirt contests are held at bars. Good for the sport? Sure. Good for the fans? Yes. A desperate attempt to stay relevant and stay within the same galaxy as profitability, absolutely.
I am in favor of a WSOF vs. Bellator show, just not on PPV. PPV has been in decay for ten years and in 2014, the corpse is starting to stink. WWE the PPV innovator and porno the PPV dominator, are or have moved to online Netflix style stream services to compete with rampant digital piracy. The ratings for Bellator are aight, WSOF’s ratings, well not so much. TNA Impact Wrestling, the whipping boy of the pro wrestling critic world, gets double Bellator and 10x WSOF and is considered less than second rate by the hardcore sports entertainment fan base.
Desperation is a stinky cologne. The idea of this show reeks of it not matter how in favor of it I personally am. Bellator doesn’t need the WSOF, but it’s not vice versa. WSOF desperately needs more eyeballs on its product both in the arenas and on screens. Bellator can just as easily scoop up all the fighters WSOF has if they company were to fold due to unprofitability, which is presently what the promotion is.
I’m not a WSOF hater, as a pro wrestling fan, let me tell you competition is VITAL to combat sports, real or simulated. Two national promotions on cable television is the minimum needed for the fans, three is even better. Both of pro wrestling’s boom periods of the 80s and 90s were directly correlated to a “Big Three” national promotion hydra (80s: NWA, AWA, WWF | 90s: WWF, WCW, ECW). So don’t get me wrong, I am rooting for WSOF to stick around for a long time and for Bellator to start averaging over 1 million viewers a week on a regular basis. A cross promotional event would pop a rating, fill an arena, and be good for the sport of mma as a whole.
But would the NFL do a cross promotional event with the Super Bowl champions versus the CFL Grey Cup winner? And would they put it on PPV or on television where the biggest possible audience could see it. Why does the UFC put titles on their FOX cards at least once a year? Why did WWE just move all their PPVs to an a la carte digital cable service for $10 a month when they were charging $60 per event? It’s about eyeballs on screens, selling ads to those eyes, and popping a rating to gain leverage in future contract negotiations.
So if you’re gonna do it, do it right. Bellator is on Spike, owned by Viacom, which owns CBS. Put the event on CBS in prime time, show the world that mma is more than just the UFC, not just to the hardcore fan base willing to pay $50 at home or $5 at a bar. Yes, please, thank you, you’re welcome.