“My video blog does more fucking viewers than [Bellator’s] television show does.”

With that statement by UFC President Dana White earlier in the month, it became clear as to how “worried” he is about Bellator infringing on the UFC’s turf as the most sought-after MMA organization. With the decision, for now, to not run a counter program to Bellator’s first pay-per-view, which tales place on Nov. 2, it shows that White doesn’t consider the promotion a threat to the UFC.

There’s been a history of counter programming by the UFC against other promotions going back to July of 2008 with the UFC’s effort to steer viewers away from an EliteXC card that was broadcast on CBS. For that night, the UFC aired a replay of UFC 84 on Spike TV. Later on in that same month, there was another counter programming effort to Affliction’s pay-per-view in which the UFC aired a live night of fights, featuring middleweight champion Anderson Silva, for free on Spike TV.

In more recent years, there was a concentrated effort on eliminating whatever buzz there was about Strikeforce events through counter programming. Although some may view it as a smart strategy, you’d be hard pressed to find proof that counter programming is one of the main reasons the UFC has been able to hold off other contenders for the spotlight. The UFC may have purposely aired its events up against other promotions for the simple purpose of flipping the bird with the undoubted belief that the ratings were going to overwhelmingly favor the UFC. On the other hand, if the UFC brass isn’t concerned about other promotions competing with them, then why not just let them have their night and see where the pieces fall?

That’s exactly what will happen on Nov. 2 when Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson headline Bellator’s pay-per-view event in Long Beach, Calif.

Not countering the broadcast is a smart move by the UFC. If Bellator’s pay-per-view endeavor flops, as many are anticipating, then the promotion has nobody to blame but itself. If the UFC ran programming on that same night, Bellator could always point to the UFC and say the Bellator ratings were low because the UFC used its established fan base to steer viewers away from the Bellator event. Now that it has a clear path to the hoop, Bellator will need to focus more on developing its own storylines within the event and remove much of the Dana White slander that has been bouncing back and forth between Ortiz and Jackson.

“I’m sure you guys saw, when the thing came out, when they did their press conference, all they talked about was me at the press conference.  What else are they going to talk about, that fight?  Well, you guys have lost your last 10 fights. How do you think the fight will go?  Well, I can tell you this, one of us is going to win.  Somebody’s ‘O’ has got to go,” said White following the UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen pre-fight press conference in Boston.

Bellator has a good thing brewing for its Nov. 2 card. In addition to Ortiz and Jackson, it has already confirmed Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton. The main event may very well turn out to be the most unexciting fight on the card, but that’s not going to determine the overall success of the night for the promotion. If the card produces an exciting night of fights and the production value of the broadcast is high, Bellator may do just what it is setting out to do—show MMA fans that they are a long-term player in the fight game.

And if it flops? The promotion can’t blame it on the UFC. It’s your night to shine, Bellator.

Photo: Tito Ortiz (Heavy MMA)