San Antonio Newspaper Calls Bellator Event A “Bust”

September 9, 2010

John Whisler, a sports reporter from the San Antonio Express-News was lucky enough to attend Bellator 27 and witness the great come from behind win against Joe Soto to win the Bellator featherweight title. The problem? There weren’t many other spectators to witness the great main event.

San Antonio may have seen the last of the Bellator Fighting Championships.
The Chicago-based mixed martial arts company’s return to the Alamo City on Thursday was a box-office bust, as only about 600 fans showed up to see Bellator 27 at the Majestic Theatre.

This comes on the heels of the promotion’s first show in May at the Majestic that drew an estimated crowd of 1,000… The facility seats 2,300.

“It’s something we’re going to have to reassess,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “I still think this is a great fight town. I’d love to come back here.”

John, then went to address the issue in the article, stating that not much promotion was done for the event.  He then attributed Bellator’s biggest problem to be over-extension, as they schedule events around the country on a weekly basis during their seasons.

“It’s an interesting dynamic,” [Rebney] said. “Kansas City was sold out, Louisville (Ky.) was packed. Sales are going well for Philadelphia (on Oct. 21). But when you’ve got a bunch of events back-to-back, it puts you in a tough position as a promoter. Sometimes you’re going to knock it out of the park, and sometimes you’re not.”


Another interesting bit of news was released earlier today, when Bellator announced FullTiltPoker as a new sponsor.  If you recall, Bellator announced a sponsorship deal with earlier this year in February, so it seems a bit odd to be naming FullTiltPoker as their new sponsor in mid-season.

Full Tilt is pleased to announce its sponsorship of Bellator Fighting Championships – a continuing series of televised World Class Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) action presented in a unique tournament format. Now in its third season, Bellator Fighting Championships has established itself as one of the most entertaining and talent-filled mixed martial arts promotions in the world.

The next event for Bellator Fighting Championships – Bellator 28 – will take place at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre in New Orleans, Thursday, September 9, 2010. This will mark the first time the fighting series has visited the Big Easy, and all the action will be broadcast live on the FOX Sports Network, along with action-packed highlight shows on NBC Saturday nights.

The series is viewed by millions of fans each month and the Thursday, September 9th event will be the first of eight nationally and internationally televised events sponsored by

UPDATE: It appears that was acquired by Blanca Games on August 26, just a few weeks ago.  MMAPayout is investigating whether the recent acquisition played any part in possibly not renewing their contract with Bellator.  We will keep you updated…

Blanca Games, Inc. (Blanca), led by e-gaming entrepreneur Stuart Gordon, today announced that Blanca has acquired the Cereus Poker Network (Cereus), one of the largest poker networks in the world. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Blanca’s acquisition of Cereus includes the Network operations, software, the brand, and the brand. Blanca has received authorization from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) to complete the acquisition and operate the Cereus Poker Network. Stuart Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of Blanca Games, said, “The acquisition of Cereus is a significant opportunity for us. Cereus is a major platform of well-managed assets. Over the past few years, it has created new brands, like, that are extremely well-positioned in the most desirable demographic in our market: players in the 20s and 30s age brackets. From our perspective, we have acquired a large, sophisticated online gaming operation with state-of-the art capabilities, ranging from compliance to business intelligence to online marketing to customer service. We see a tremendous growth opportunity in this deal and beyond, as Blanca seeks additional acquisitions in the market.”

Payout Perspective:

The attendance numbers for Bellator being labeled as a “bust” are a bit misleading.  Though their attendance dropped from 1,000 to 600 in their last two events in San Antonio, their bottom line is not greatly affected due to Bellator’s site-fee contracts, where it leaves the venue in charge of distributing and selling tickets.  The problem lies in trying to build San Antonio into a Bellator market, which by looking at the numbers, doesn’t look to be happening.  It also doesn’t bode well for Bellator’s site-fee negotiations and leverage in the future if they can’t grow their attendance numbers in these struggling markets.  If it gets to that point, it may be best to move on to another market.

The news doesn’t get any better today for Bellator as they go into New Orleans for their event tonight, the same night that the NFL season opener kicks-off with the defending Super Bowl champions New Orleans Saints taking on Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.  One would expect a low attendance number again, but like Rebney said, with the week-to-week grueling season schedule Bellator has, sometimes you are going to knock it out of the park, and sometimes (which has been the case for their past two events), you’re not.

12 Responses to “San Antonio Newspaper Calls Bellator Event A “Bust””

  1. San Antonio News Paper Calls Bellator's Event A “Bust” : MMAPayout … | on September 9th, 2010 6:49 PM

    […] See more here: San Antonio News Paper Calls Bellator's Event A “Bust” : MMAPayout … […]

  2. CursedDiamonds on September 9th, 2010 10:23 PM
  3. Jose Mendoza on September 10th, 2010 12:14 AM


    Great catch, just stumbled upon that myself, and definitely could have been a reason why Bellator named FullTiltPoker as a new sponsor. I heard from a source that may have decided not to renew their deal too.

  4. Eric Nitsch on September 10th, 2010 8:43 AM

    Why on earth would Bellator stage an event in NO on the same night as the kickoff of the NFL season in the hometown of the Superbowl champs. Someone over there needs to be checking the schedules of other events taking place in whichever town they plan to promote. I actually think that having the event planned for Friday night may have helped draw a bigger crowd as there are likely a great many sports fans who will be in town for the entire weekend.

  5. jv on September 10th, 2010 5:55 PM

    I really have to wonder how much they make from those site licences because none of their venues sell worth a damn. Really I have to wonder if it would make more sense to shoot in a studio as the cost of satellite transponder time to back haul the signal to the Fox SN head end is probably more than the gate never mind the cost of an HD truck and crew.

    Here is a price list to get you started if any one is interested.

  6. shawn on September 11th, 2010 2:36 PM

    A crowd of only 600?…………AFC out of Victoria BC is getting over 2000 fans coming to thier events and it is running shows in a building that holds 2300 people. HD net and the fight network has picked up on this and AFC is now rollowing along with 3 tv deals and a stong fight base. It is only behind MFC asa leader in Canada for MMA…………..Victoria and Vancouver can get 600 people to watch two birds fight in a bird bath!

  7. Stan Kosek on September 12th, 2010 2:16 PM

    Bellator is a real solid promotion and sincerely hope they do what needs to be done to keep running consistent shows. I have faith in their management, although depending on what comes out of the Zuffa suit, some of the common sense I give them credit for might be taken down.

    If they need to run shows bi-weekly, then so be it, but seems like they are in the right direction and should stick around.

  8. Jose Mendoza on September 12th, 2010 3:59 PM

    UPDATE: acquisition news now included in post.

  9. joe on September 14th, 2010 12:55 AM

    listen dummy, know nothings, mma as a whole is a bust. fuking boring!! wrestling holding laying on the mat doing nothing. UFC was the first to bring this stuff out, but they had real fighters back in the day (not that they dont now) don frye, ken shamrock, marcos rua, oleg taktarov, those mothers were hard. now you got they guys like dustin hazlet (no chin) and the like who were wrestlers what not, and people dont want to see the ground and pound if you seen it a couple of times its kinda like boring!
    ufc can get away with it cause they were the first one on the scene with it. and even them, they cant go on forever stinkin out a show with a bunch of ground fighters. thats why they stage a stand up fight on most of there ppv’s.
    and for the life of me i cannot believe that dana white has ari emanuel as his agent. lol that would be like paul taglibu or who ever he was or david stern having a talent agent represent him. lol give me a fukin break you dont fight!! UFC is one major controversy away from being banned all together or turned away from the public. I believe UFC is a money racket for the Fretattas or the brother would of never left the casino buisness to do the UFC thing. ah that just what i think im a guy who works in the fight buisness for 20+ years and knows the ends and outs of this shit…

  10. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney offers Lombard vs. Jacare, Askren vs. Diaz - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on November 5th, 2010 11:46 AM

    […] isn't even showing them live anymore 2. They have a hard time selling 1000 seats for their shows San Antonio Newspaper Calls Bellator Event A “Bust” : The Business of MMA 3. Jeff Sherwood has talked several times on his radio show about Bellator being close to going […]

  11. StrikeForce/Bellator Superfight Cards for CBS - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on November 5th, 2010 3:23 PM

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  12. No wonder rebney is desperatly trying to co-promote with sf... - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on November 7th, 2010 12:41 PM

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