Bellator 131 – Payout Perspective

November 18, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective.  This time we are taking a look at Bellator 131 from the Valley View Casino in San Diego, California.

Ortiz defeats Bonnar in “spectacle”

This fight was sold outside of the cage but inside the cage there was not a lot to say about it.  In the end, Ortiz defeated Bonnar via split decision and perhaps the most entertaining part about these two is the clowning of Bonnar and the middle fingers of Ortiz after the fight.

The famous (or infamous) lead-up to this “grudge match” was the in-cage promo a couple months back where Bonnar confronted Ortiz with that guy in the mask that was revealed to be someone 95% of the casual viewing MMA audience had never seen.  Thus, the reveal meant nothing.  Still, the two promoted the fight to the point where the actual fight (luckily) became secondary.

A quick look at twitter reveals that Ortiz is looking to King Mo next.  Let the trash talk/tweets begin.  As for Bonnar, perhaps he turns on the masked man for his next fight.

131

Brooks defeats Chandler for lightweight title

In what was the most competitive and real fight of the night, Will Brooks defeated Michael Chandler to win the vacant lightweight world title.  Brooks did it with a solid punch to Chandler’s temple which essentially knocked out Chandler on his feet as Chandler made gestures as if he did not know where he was eventually turning his back from Brooks and causing the stoppage.  Brooks and Chandler are two fighters that Bellator needs.  While Ortiz and Bonnar are spectacle, Brooks and Chandler are sport.

Attendance and Gate

No official announcement has been made on the attendance and gate at the Valley View Casino.  However, there are unconfirmed reports of the attendance being 8,100 with a gate of over $400,000.  The Valley View Casino has a max capacity of approximately 18,000 but some of that was taken out due to the enormous set, stage and ramp.  Regardless, it has to be one of the biggest crowds and gates for the organization.

Salaries

As reported, Sunday night, the salaries disclosed by the California State Athletic Commission had Ortiz ($300K) and Bonnar ($100K) as the biggest earners for the night although Ortiz was fined $2,500 for his antics post-fight.  The salaries show that Ortiz can still demand top dollar for his services while Bonnar’s pay is a step up from his time in the UFC.

Promotion of Fight

The Viacom-owned company utilized its resources in order to hype this “tentpole” event.  It used its sponsor Dave & Busters for a couple events to promote the fight including a meet and greet which featured ex-UFC stars.  It even announced that Wanderlei Silva would be in attendance at the pre-fight party on Friday even though the company had to retract that after contractual issues with the UFC prevented Silva’s appearance.

SpikeTV ran three shoulder programs to promote Bellator 131 and most centered on Ortiz-Bonnar.  Spike ran a one hour Countdown show which focused a significant portion on Ortiz-Bonnar and then Brooks-Chandler and Manhoef-Schilling.  The Countdown dedicated the first half hour or so on Ortiz-Bonnar and showed the Justin McCully incident again and again.  But, it lacked specifically spelling out the “wrong” that Ortiz did to McCully.  If it did, I just did not get it.  It then had a special dedicated to Ortiz and then another one specifically for Tito and Bonnar to have a “sit down face-to-face.”

Sponsorships

In the cage, Bellator’s sponsors included Dave & Busters, pre-pay cell phone company Cricket Wireless, Monster Energy, Gold Bond Ultimate, Everlast, Attack Poker and Miller Light had the center of the cage.  The mat also had something for the new Spike App.

Odds and Ends

-Bellator’s video packages, new stage, big screen and walkouts were all great things that added to the “big event” feel.

-Mo started swimming after his win.  I don’t recall this a trademark celebration.

-ESPN’s Matthew Berry is the signature spokesman for Dave & Buster’s?  Fantasy sports is that popular.

-In promoting Melvin Manhoef during the Countdown show, Bellator showed footage from Japan of Manhoef knocking out Mark Hunt.  Good timing since Hunt was the main eventer at UFC 180.  Irony because Manhoef was laid out by Joe Schilling on Saturday.

-There was a Goldberg (Bill not Mike) citing at the event.  Really.  George Lopez citing too.  Really.

-Joe Warren doing play-by-play during the Mike Richman-Nam Phan fight was a nice touch.

Conclusion

The event had a big event feel and it seemed like a step up for the company.  While it does have a “pro wrestling” feel, the presentation draws you in to watch.  The question will be can it promote non-UFC fighters in the upper levels of its cards.  Ortiz and Bonnar are past their prime inside the cage.  Certainly, they can sell fights but the question will be whether others can pick up where they will leave off. In the end, Bellator 131 was a strong showing and if it’s a sign of things to come in how Bellator will present its quarterly big shows, Bellator, under Coker, will be a strong number 2 promotion.

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