With each passing event, Bellator is one show closer to moving off of MTV2 and onto Spike TV. Clearly, Spike is a better home for the promotion considering the fact that it is on more cable packages and that it was the network that called the UFC home for nearly a decade. It is definitely fair to say that without Spike, the UFC wouldn’t be where it is today.

So what does this mean for Bellator exactly?

Well, there is sure to be a ratings boost right from the get-go. The promotion has been pulling around 160,000 viewers each week on MTV2, and it has not been shy about getting the word out that it is moving to the new network in January. The people who watched the fights on MTV2 will be sure to make the jump to the new channel, and the run-of-the-mill person channel surfing is more likely to end up falling on Bellator when the move is made.

The question from all of this is whether or not those new viewers will stay fans of the promotion, or merely look at it as completely inferior to the UFC. Love it or hate it, the tournament format creates excitement along with new superstars. But if you look at some of the upcoming Bellator events, they are very weak outside of the tournament bouts.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has been forthcoming about the fact that he is saving a lot of his best fighters and fights for the switch to Spike. There are several title fights that could have been scheduled for its current season, but they are being saved for the big stage of the new channel. Honestly, it makes sense to do it because it will create a very strong and exciting season. But the question is how long will the promotion be able to maintain having such a high volume of cards while maintaining a high volume of quality fights.

If this Friday night’s Bellator 80 card was the sixth card in its eighth season, as it is for its seventh season, there is no doubt that a lot of people would likely change the channel. Sure, those fans that were watching on MTV2 and the other networks that Bellator has called home will still be in for the long haul and continue to watch. But Joe Warren taking on Owen Evinger doesn’t exactly scream out to a casual fan as a reason to tune in. Even to more avid MMA enthusiasts, the fight has a feel to it that Evinger will be fodder for the former featherweight champion, considering he will enter the cage already having gone 0-2 in his promotional career.

Not only that, but the major flaw in the tournament system that the promotion utilizes is that the champions rarely fight because they’re waiting for a new contender. What Bellator has done a couple of times in its history is to have those champions fight in a non-title super fight, which is truly a recipe for disaster in the fight world. If the champion wins, it is no big deal because they were supposed to. If they lose, then they are still the champion, but are they truly?

Look at the case of Christian M’Pumbu, the current light heavyweight champion. At Bellator 55, he lost a non-title three-round decision to Travis Wiuff. People gave Wiuff the unofficial title. From there, Wiuff went on to lose in the finals of the most recent light heavyweight tournament to Attila Vegh, who could now have that unofficial belt.

These happenings can easily be hidden on MTV2, but not on Spike. In order for the Spike TV era in Bellator’s history to be successful, they have a lot of work to do. There is no doubt that the first season of the promotion in its new home will be a hit. But the real test will be whether or not they will be able to maintain that success.

Photo: Ben Askren (top) will be a major player in Bellator’s move to Spike (Sherdog)

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.