January 9, 2017
Zachery Light is dismissing his lawsuit against Bellator. Light’s attorney filed a Request for Dismissal on December 20, 2016.
The Request was signed by Light’s attorney, William Crosby, and Bellator’s counsel Richard Kendall.
The dismissal is “with prejudice” which would end both Light’s lawsuit against Bellator and Bellator’s cross-claim against Light. The details can be found here and in the original lawsuit in which Light stated that the promotion disobeyed laws for forging medial information for fighters. Light claimed that Scott Coker and Rich Chou advised the former Bellator employee not to press the issue.
Bellator claimed that Light requested a loan from the company and was given $9,403 and entered into a written agreement with Light that made him pay back the money on an agreed schedule. Bellator claims that he never paid back the loan.
In all likelihood, the parties have decided to settle their dispute without incurring further litigation costs. Also, I would suppose a non-disclosure agreement was signed by Light which would preclude him from talking about the case. It would be interesting to know of the allegations regarding Bellator hiring Kogan while he still managed fighters. Of course, Light probably could not sustain paying his legal bills up against Bellator. From all indications, he is now working for MMAAA.
January 8, 2017
Jumping on the possibility of receiving mainstream possibility from an off-hand remark made by Meryl Streep during her acceptance speech at The Golden Globes Sunday night, Scott Coker sent out an invitation for her to attend Bellator’s event on January 21st.
Streep, making a statement with her speech on immigration, made a flippant remark that if the new administration were to curb foreigners from American we would be left with the “NFL and mixed martial arts.” She added that football and MMA were not the arts.
Coker sent out a statement via twitter soon after her comments made it to social media:
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) January 9, 2017
Kudos for Streep for naming the sport and not the “UFC” when referring to the sport. For those that took her comments as a biting criticism of MMA, you are too sensitive. As for Coker’s comments, it’s a chance at mainstream PR and an added talking point for Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz to promote. It’s unlikely Streep will attend the event in Inglewood on January 21 but it was a chance to get the name and event in the news.
December 26, 2016
Benson Henderson, Rory MacDonald and Chael Sonnen signed with Bellator MMA this year reflecting a new age of free agency for MMA. Fedor Emelianenko was also signed by the Viacom-owned company in 2016.
Bellator continued with its strategy of signing fighters with some fan notoriety to headline as well as sign accomplished amateur wrestlers to groom for the future. Three-time NCAA Division 2 wrestling champ Romero Cotton signed an exclusive MMA contract with Bellator in November.
In addition to Cotton, Bellator added Joey Davis, Jarod Trice and Tyrell Fotune. Ed Ruth, a Penn St. amateur wrestler signed in 2015 and made his debut in November 2016. Aaron Pico also signed with Bellator but has yet to make his debut.
Henderson signed with Bellator after his contract ended with the UFC. Thus far, Henderson has not fared well in Bellator. He was thoroughly dominated by Andrey Koreshkov in his Bellator debut at welterweight. He moved back down to lightweight to challenge for Michael Chandler’s title. In a fight to see who would face Chandler, he defeated Patricio Pitbull Freire due to an injury by Pitbull. Henderson went on to lose to Chandler this past November for the lightweight title.
Rory MacDonald signed this August after his contract expired in June. He has yet to fight in Bellator but it appears he will compete at middleweight and welterweight for the company.
Sonnen may have been the surprise since he has been out of action since 2013. He signed with Bellator in September and now is scheduled for a tentpole event in January 2017 against Tito Ortiz.
The Fedor signing should be a big deal for many international and Strikeforce fans that want to relive the glory days of The Last Emperor. Coming out of retirement, it’s likely that we won’t see him in any title fights but just features with handpicked opponents.
The strategy of signing ex-UFC talent seems to work. Certainly, Sonnen-Ortiz will draw big ratings especially since the UFC moved its event off of the same day. While using the former UFC fighters to draw in fans for name recognition, it allows the company to allow the young former amateur wrestlers get fights under their belt without the pressure of being a featured fighter.
We’ll likely see more UFC fighters take a look at free agency as more fighters weigh their options post-UFC sale. This may allow Bellator to be more particular in looking at fighters to sign.
16 for 16
14. Bellator 149
15. CM Punk debuts
December 21, 2016
Bellator 169 drew 699,000 viewers in DVR +3 ratings per Nielsen. The event peaked with 965,000 viewers.
The event, which aired on Friday on tape delay drew 965,000 viewers. The event featured King Mo Lawal as he defeated Satoshi Ishii in Dublin, Ireland. It was the most-watched international Bellator MMA event to date.
The event drew 643,000 viewers in live + SD ratings. It was the best showing for a Bellator TV event since September 2016. Friday’s event was the highest peak since Bellator 167 peaked at 967,000.
December 20, 2016
In match-ups that reflect the organization’s penchant for odd attractions, Bellator 149 featured former street fighters Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 and fighters past their prime Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie.
Actually, you could argue that all four of the featured fighters should not have been in the cage on February 19th. Yet, it was the biggest audience for Bellator in 2016.
In the last fight of the night, Gracie defeated Shamrock in round 1. While we could digest this since it didn’t last long, Slice-Dada was unbearable to watch after the first minute of the fight.
Booked as a brawl between two ex-street fighters, Kevin Ferguson and Dhafir Harris ran out of gas after the first minute of the fight and, as we learned later, Harris almost died in the cage as he essentially gave up due to exhaustion. Ferguson tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone post-fight and his win was overturned to a no-contest.
In addition, Shamrock tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone and methadone.
Despite the main event of Slice and Dada and the post-fight failed tests, the event was the highest-rated event for the company. Each fight on the telecast drew over 1.9 million viewers while the fights between Ferguson-Harris (2.9M) and Gracie-Shamrock (2.8M) surged to over 2 million viewers on Spike TV.
The Bellator tentpole model has worked and this event highlights the sports entertainment aspect of MMA. The Slice-Dada promos for the fight were “must see” television. The actual fight was not. But, viewers were drawn to watch. Ferguson, who passed away this past June, was a ratings magnet which likely helped the ratings. Nostalgia of Shamrock-Gracie also brought casual viewers to watch.
One of the big questions about the event was how the main event participants were able to obtain a license to fight. While there is no link between Ferguson’s death and his fighting career, one has to wonder what was included in his medical information to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Same could be asked of Harris. It was clear he was in no condition to fight, yet was still granted a license. While he met the requirements, one has to wonder how stringent they were at the time.
December 19, 2016
Bellator 169 on Spike TV Friday night drew 643,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings. The event was tape delayed from Dublin, Ireland but still produced the best ratings for a Bellator event since September.
In the main event Muhammed Lawal defeated Satoshi Ishii via unanimous decision. Per Sports TV Ratings, it drew 266,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.
Despite being on tape delay, the event had the highest average viewership since Bellator 161 in September. College Football on ESPN2 and NBA Basketball on NBA were the biggest draws for sports tv on cable during the 9:00pm-11:00pm ET time slot. Through 169, the Bellator TV average on Spike is 677,000 viewers which is still behind the 749,000 of 2015.
December 16, 2016
Bellator MMA 168 drew 559,000 viewers last Saturday afternoon including DVR+3 numbers and peaking with 838,000 viewers.
The event drew 529,000 viewers in Live + same day viewership. Unlike other Bellator events, this telecast had a modest markup for DVR viewers likely due to the afternoon airing.
December 13, 2016
Bellator 168 on Saturday afternoon drew 529,000 viewers on Spike TV per Nielsen. The event was form Firenze, Italy.
The main event featured Alessio Sakara and Joey Beltran with Sakara earning the victory via TKO. The event drew 201,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo per Sports TV Ratings.
The 529,000 viewers are slightly lower from last week. The event took place prior to the UFC Prelims on Saturday night which may have detracted some viewers since that would place it in the afternoon for west coast viewers.
November 20, 2016
Georges St. Pierre met with Bellator MMA’s Scott Coker on Saturday night during Bellator 165 from San Jose, California. GSP is currently at a contract impasse with the UFC.
St. Pierre’s lawyer targeted next year as a possibility for the former UFC middleweight champion to return to action with the company as they have conceded that negotiations for a return to UFC 206 next month have failed. However, GSP’s presence at the Bellator event fanned the flames that he could jump to Viacom-owned Bellator.
GSP’s legal team has indicated that he has other options outside of the UFC although they did not specify what those could be.
It won’t be that easy for GSP to jump to Bellator unless there is some sort of settlement between the UFC and GSP. Still, it’s likely that the UFC will make a push to renegotiate with GSP in 2017 to keep GSP and ensure he does not leave for a competitor.
November 7, 2016
Bellator 163 drew 507,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night per Sports TV Ratings. It’s a decrease of approximately 13% from last month’s show. It’s the lowest ratings for a Bellator show in 2016.
In the main event of the night, Phil Davis captured the Bellator Light Heavyweight title over Liam McGeary.
According to Sports TV Ratings, it drew 254,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.
Pretty bad ratings for an otherwise good show. The NBA ruled the night with New York-Chicago and then Golden State-Lakers on ESPN. Still, the 507,000 total viewers have to be disappointing considering there was a title fight on the show. One might infer the indifference MMA fans have toward Bellator based on the fact it’s the lowest rated Bellator show of the year.