Bellator MMA made its move from MTV2 to Spike TV at the beginning of this year to commence its eighth season of fights. The promotion came into the move with high expectations and a clear agenda. With the new platform, the company intended to not only increase its audience, but also to help cement its own standing as the premier MMA league outside of the UFC.

Whether or not Bellator is to be considered as true competition for the UFC remains a question. But looking at all that the promotion accomplished this year, did it make a mistake in leaving MTV2?

Those looking to prove that Bellator made a bad decision in moving to Spike certainly will not find their evidence in past ratings.

On MTV2, the fight cards proved that fans would watch MMA, even with the UFC airing an event on the same night and even if Bellator’s product featured events that spotlighted more prospects and rising stars than world champions. In terms of the actual ratings that the company pulled, however, inconsistency shone brighter than any moment from the fight cards themselves.

The promotion’s highest ratings on MTV2 actually came in the company’s debut season on MTV2. After that, the ratings went on a rollercoaster ride. The individual numbers themselves and even the viewership averages never escaped the 100,000s-200,000s. Those statistics stood as proof that the promotion, despite the quality nights of fights, needed a much larger platform than MTV2.

Fast forward to Bellator’s move to Spike, which began at Bellator 85. Headlined by Pat Curran vs. Patricio Freire and Michael Chandler vs. Rick Hawn, Bellator 85 pulled a promotion-best rating, and although the numbers remain on somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for this season, the ratings on Spike so far only dipped as low as what they pulled three weeks into the season.

What amazes the most about the promotion’s success for season eight lies in the changes Bellator made. And the change was as simple as moving from MTV2 to Spike.

Aside from Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal’s run in this season’s light heavyweight tournament, nothing really changed about the cards themselves in terms of how matchmaker Sam Caplan stacked them. If anything, the one change to the cards came in the form of the promotion featuring one quarterfinal from one of its season-eight tournaments on the preliminary portion of the card.

Perhaps given the roster, and definitely given the way Bellator functions with the tournament format intact, one can deem this situation somewhat unavoidable, but no one should stand at fault for this. Bellator specializes in putting new fighters on the map, and apart from questionable judging, the format has worked well so far, as it leaves no doubt about the top contender to each championship titleholder.

Not only does it help the sport out for Bellator to keep adding to the bevy of new blood in the sport, but its ratings, while still somewhat inconsistent, reflect something fans needed to learn before Bellator moved to Spike. When names like Curran, Freire, Chandler and others draw numbers that almost hit a cool million, it defines the legitimacy of the promotion.

Michael Chandler (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.