Posts Tagged ‘bellator’

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By @anarchyroll

Professional sports are about dollars and cents. They are entertainment. All professional sports become more like professional wrestling with each passing year. The winners may not be predetermined. But the manipulation of the integrity of the game for entertainment purposes has been the norm and becomes more the norm in every major professional sports league in America each season.

The NFL is top dog in this regard. They turn everything into an event. Football season now never ends because there is not football season, just a never ending series of staged events. Think those controversial referee calls are an accident?

Right beside the NFL, competing for title of New America’s Past Time is the sport of mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship promotion in particular.

Unlike all the other national sports leagues, the UFC has no offseason. And more importantly, they have such a grip on their always growing fan base to charge money to watch their shows in addition to having multiple free shows per month on FOX and Fox Sports 1. Not to mention UFC’s exclusive apparel sponsorship deal with Reebok.

Another thing that separated UFC and MMA as a sport from the others was that every other sports league has two franchises in New York City (or its boroughs) and three of the four major leagues have their headquarters in Manhattan. MMA on the other hand was banned/illegal in New York State.

Doesn’t that just read as weird? MMA banned in New York state in the year 2016. One of the most popular sports in the world, banned from the biggest media market in the world. How is that possible?

Dirty politics is the answer. Is that a really a surprise?

How much bigger would the UFC be if it had been holding events in Madison Square Garden for the last twenty years? They have filled the Rogers Centre in Toronto, no reason to think a show at Giants Stadium is out of the question in the medium term future.

MMA becoming legal in New York is the sports story of the year thus far and is on the shortlist for sports stories of the decade. Why? Dollars and cents.

The UFC is worth a estimated at $2 billion right now and they are just now going to start running events live in the biggest media market in the world. Running shows from New York changes things for the bigger. That’s just the way it is and this is coming from a life long Chicagoan. The amount of monetary capital in New York is vast to say the least. Five years down the line, this story will be looked back upon as a truly historic moment in the world of sports.

The UFC will not just get bigger Bellator MMA, World Series of Fighting, and local independent mix martial arts promotions will all flourish in a densely populated, highly affluent state. The ripple effect on the economics of mixed martial arts will be felt far and wide. The first event UFC holds at Madison Square Garden will demonstrate that.

The other story of the decade candidate going on right now is the Golden State Warriors and their quest to tie and/or surpass the 72 win 10 loss regular season NBA record held by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. That remarkable feet will not have nearly the economic/business impact for the NBA and the sport of basketball as mma becoming legal in New York.

Mixed martial arts becoming legal in New York is a billion dollar economic news story as opposed to an event or accomplishment that is only a big deal within the industrial sports news and opinion complex. It crosses the barrier and moves the needle. It is the biggest sports story of 2016

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by @anarchyroll
10/3/2014

As a fan of the original ECW, there are few wrestlers I want to dislike more than Bobby Lashley. And for years, Lashley made it very easy to dislike him whether he was pushed as a face or a heel in WWE or TNA.

Bobby Lashley was what is known in pro wrestling as a “body guy”. Someone whose success in pro wrestling is entirely dependent on the fact that they are or look like a body builder. Lashley’s run in WWE from 2005-2007 was the textbook definition of the WWE using their marketing machine to try to force fans to like a body guy with no charisma, no mic skills, and a mediocre at best level of technical wrestling skill.

Why as an ECW fan did I intensely dislike Lashley? Because body guys are antithesis of what ECW is all about, and when ECW was revived in 2006, at their second and final pay per view event, Lashley was chosen over CM Punk to win the only ECW Elimination Chamber match to become ECW Champion. Lashley then co main evented WrestleMania with the ECW Title around his waste and to this day, a generation of wrestling fans associate a body guy as the face of ECW. Sigh, thanks Vince.

Flash forward seven years later, and Lashley can only be classified as strictly a body guy by fervent haters of him and TNA Wrestling where he is (as of this writing) their World Heavyweight Champion. Why can Lashley no longer be classified as just a body guy? After all he still looks like a walking commercial for anabolic steroids.

Because after his run in the WWE and after his first run in TNA, Bobby Lashley went out and became the second most legitimate pro wrestling to mixed martial arts crossover in history. Second to only Brock Lesnar.

Lashley has had 3 times as many fights as Lesnar had, though no one would argue Lashley has faced nearly the same level of competition Lesnar did. But unlike Lesnar, Lashley isn’t retired, he’s still actively fighting.

It is worth noting, and praising, that Lashley while actively competing for TNA as their World Champion, fought and won a fight in Bellator MMA. That is something that Brock Lesnar never did and never will do. It is a little caveat, but a legitimate one.

Lashley’s in ring pro wrestling skills, have also improved dramatically. He tells a story with his facial features and plays to his strengths. TNA to their credit, has booked him as well as someone like Lashley can be booked. In an era where TNA can’t seem to do anything right, they have done very little if anything wrong with Lashley since he returned to the company at Lockdown in March.

Since Lashley apparently doesn’t know how to talk arrogantly, TNA gave him a mouthpiece/hype man in MVP. That was a double win as MVP was nursing a broken ankle at the time and needed something to do on camera. TNA killed two birds with one stone and now, it is almost impossible to think of or book Lashley without MVP as his version of Paul Heyman.

TNA has booked Lashley against technically proficient opponents who are able to bump for Bobby as well as mask his deficiencies in the same model of The Undertaker’s last five WrestleMania opponents. Lashley’s matches against Samoa Joe (twice), Eric Young, Austin Aries, and Bobby Roode have all been American style, pro wrestling/sports entertainment heavyweight style matches. Fans of wrestling both pre PG and pre Attitude eras would have an appreciation of those matches. Storytelling, selling, submissions, hot crowds, manuever exchanges, a high spot or two, go home. TNA has also booked him as an unstoppable monster. When he inevitably loses the world title, it will be a big deal, at least by TNA standards.

Lashley has come along way since his unwatchable runs as United States and ECW Champions in WWE. He is becoming the type of talent that Vince McMahon likely envisioned him as when he tryed to ram Lashley down the fan’s throats for almost two full years before releasing him after main eventing a pay per view with John Cena. Yeah, you read that right.

Lashley has also become a face in the argument of the legitimacy of pro wrestlers as real athletes and genuine tough guys instead of phony actors. Actively holding the world title for the #2 pro wrestling company and actively winning fights for the #2 mixed martial arts promotion is a bigger deal in both sports than many seem to want to give it credit for. It’s understandable, Lashley’s work in WWE was just awful. But his work in his first run in TNA in 2009 was good. His matches against Rhino, Samoa Joe, and Scott Steiner are all worth looking up on You Tube. He then spent four years bouncing between independent pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. Now he’s a top guy in the #2 promotion for both sports. What’s next? Lashley isn’t that old. He may not just be getting started, but he certainly isn’t finished.

It’s hard for me to believe that a body guy could be such an inspirational figure. But in the year 2014 in the worlds of pro wrestling and mixed martial arts, there is no better story than the renaissance of Bobby Lashley.

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by @anarchyroll
6/23/2014

Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. True in life, movies, and mixed martial arts.

PRIDE also comes before the fall, that is doubly true in mixed martial arts.

Bellator MMA was founded by Bjorn Rebney in 2008. The majority stake in the company was sold to Viacom in 2011 as part of a deal to get the promotion onto MTV2 and later Spike TV. Bellator crafted a niche in the mixed martial arts world by running tournaments. Initially tournaments to crown their champions, then tournaments to crown number one contenders to fight their champions. Title fights, attraction fights, and “super” fights are used to round out the cards.

Bjorn Rebney, Bellator MMA founder

Bellator’s unique format as well as PRIDE and Strikeforce going out of business allowed them to both survive and thrive by upstart, distant number two standards. Compared to the Goliath that is the UFC, Bellator is not a competitor, merely an alternative. In the rest of the mixed martial arts world however, Bellator has been the clear-cut number two company since the second the lights went out for Strikeforce last year.

Bellator has evolved incrementally to show they are growing. Going from ESPN Deportes to MTV2 to Spike TV to air their fights. Bellator had their version of UFC’s reality tv show darling “The Ultimate Fighter” called “Fight Master” that aired last year. It was unique to TUF and much like everything Bellator does, got decent ratings, enough to keep them afloat and viewed as legitimate.

Bellator recently made it’s PPV debut, a show that drew 100,000 buys. With all of this growth and progression, it was surprising to hear that Bjorn Rebney, the founder and CEO of Bellator MMA, and for all intents and purposes the Dana White of Bellator, was forced out of the company he founded by Viacom. Word is that Viacom wants to move away from the tournament format, while Rebney falls under the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it paradigm. Rebney has already been replaced by Scott Coker, who was the founder and Dana White of Strikeforce.

Scott Coker, founder of Strikeforce and new CEO of Bellator MMA

Coker is a good promoter and a good guy. Most people seem to like him. He doesn’t have a reputation for anything remotely shady. He helped build Strikeforce from a regional kickboxing promotion to the number two mixed martial arts promotion in the world. Even as a distant number two, Strikeforce put together some great super fights that rivaled anything the UFC was putting up against them at the time (Fedor vs Hendo anyone?). Viacom and Coker have already said they will scale back the tournament format of Bellator to a more traditional style of MMA booking, much like Strikeforce had.

Strikeforce and Bellator now have two things in common, Scott Coker, and a corporate owner directly involved in their business. Showtime’s incompetence led to Strikeforce going out of business. Dana White even voiced how sorry he felt for the organization over how things went down. Well, to me, this seems to be a case of history repeating itself. There is nothing wrong with tinkering with something to make it better, but this is an over haul of something that already is making money. Maybe not a lot of money, but there has been zero whiff of Bellator being at risk of going out of business. They have been consistently running shows for six years, why is this time to make whole sale changes?

Word has it Rebney was/is very difficult to work with, which is the opposite reputation Coker has. Coker was and is willing to work with anyone as long as it makes money. He has said the tournaments will have their place, which is a good thing. But if Bellator runs shows in the same way the UFC, WSOF, and OneFC all run shows, won’t they be exposing themselves as a cheap alternative to the dominant number one?

That’s what Strikeforce was after all. I loved Strikeforce but the only thing that made them different from the UFC was the hexagon cage and the colored gloves. Oh and one more thing, the UFC was consistently a far superior product because they had more money and better fighters.

The tournaments mask Bellator’s weaknesses. Those weaknesses being everything other than the fact they run tournaments. Bellator is not competition, they’re an alternative. If you’re going to be an alternative, then you have to be different than what is normal. Tournaments, and the round cage, do that. Running smaller venues does that. Having a different presentation style does that.

Scott Coker is a good promoter, it’s not actually his fault that Strikeforce went out of business, but Strikeforce went out of business, it’s a failed brand. If Strikeforce was still around and announced a merger with Bellator, that’s one thing. But when a man founds a company, makes it a success, then gets fired and replaced for a captain that is fresh off a sinking ship he was at the helm of, something about that seems off to me.

Coker has earned the benefit of the doubt that he can steer Bellator in the right direction based on his past history of success, but then again, so did Bjorn Rebney.

sportsrollby @anarchyroll
1/12/2014

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.