When Bellator returns to action later this month, it will mark the promotion’s 10th season of hosting mixed martial arts events. For the second time in the promotion’s five-year history—and the second time in the last six months—Bellator will be busy planning its first pay-per-view event.

The original pay-per-view was supposed to take place last season, in November, but news broke a week before the event that the headlining match-up between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Tito Ortiz had been scratched due to an injury to Ortiz. As a result, the pay-per-view was changed to a free card that aired live on Spike TV.

The promotion’s first time around, the planned pay-per-view turned out to be a house of cards that could be toppled by the slightest breeze. It sure was pretty to look at, though, wasn’t it?

Although the promotion credits the collapse to Ortiz’s injury and the loss of the main event, the reality is that the pay-per-view probably wasn’t going to pull any big numbers, despite an unprecedented three planned title fights on the card. The attendance of the event alone was shaping up to be dismal. Reports had only 1,700 tickets sold for the event about three weeks out. This is an even bigger deal because, at the time, it was thought that Ortiz was still healthy and the card was set to take place approximately 30 minutes from “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’s” hometown. As the event drew nearer and nearer, the injury, the ticket sales and the skepticism surrounding the event created a bleak cloud over it, which all led to the cancellation of the pay-per-view plans and the move to a live spot on Spike.

The main event slot went to Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler, who were meeting in a rematch of their epic 2011 bout that resulted in Chandler taking the lightweight title from Alvarez. The two didn’t disappoint in their second go-around, turning in a razor thin split decision that saw Alvarez’s hand held when the judges’ verdict was revealed. With these two putting on two awesome fights, nobody is going to turn down the idea of watching them go at it a third time. However, the question remains as to whether people are willing to pay for it.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney revealed that the main event for the upcoming pay-per-view will indeed be the trilogy fight between the two. However, as it currently stands, that is the only announced match-up for the card. The docket of the 10th season includes assigned dates on which all of the other championships will be contested. That means any pay-per-view plans are likely limited to a single title affair, with the lightweight strap on the line.

An argument could be made that the winner of the featherweight title rematch between champion Daniel Straus and ex-champ Pat Curran could turn around quickly and put the featherweight belt on the line against season-nine tournament winner Patricio Freire. That is a possibility, but that assumes the champion emerges from the fight without an injury. That’s no sure bet.

In the promotion’s first attempt to transition to pay-per-view, it went out and compiled a stacked card, complete with three title fights and a main event between two of the biggest names in the history of the sport. That effort never made its way to pay-per-view, and all it lost was one of four feature bouts. Now Bellator is approaching its second effort with just one big title fight. What happens if Alvarez or Chandler is forced to withdraw just a week before the fight? If Rebney had to hit the eject button on the first event with three intact title fights, how would it not come down to the same end result if this card’s headliner falls apart?

One of the biggest appeals of Bellator in the first place is the fact that its fights are free. Although the promotion is growing its roster and product with each and every season that passes, it still doesn’t have the depth of the UFC, its biggest rival. Money doesn’t grow on trees and the pockets of MMA fans are only so deep, so asking them to shell out big dollars each month for a UFC card and drop another chunk of change on a Bellator card—a card that may only have one fight worth paying the pay-per-view asking price—seems like it may exceed what most people are willing to invest.

It appears as though the promotion has hit a fork in the road. It needs to make a decision. The options are to proceed with the pay-per-view despite any potholes in the road or to pull the plug on the idea altogether.

Sometimes a trial by fire is a good way to really figure out just where you stand, and even if the results are poor, it wouldn’t mean the end for the promotion. Like a fighter behind on the cards late, caution needs to be thrown to the wind. The fighter needs to go for it, and in the case of this pay-per-view, Bellator needs to go for it.

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.