October 21, 2016
The Boston Globe reports that former Bellator MMA fighter Jordan Parsons was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Parsons, who died after he was struck by a vehicle while as a pedestrian in May of this year is the first known case of an MMA fighter suffering from CTE.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, disclosed the diagnosis. Dr. Omalu first discovered CTE with former NFL football player Mike Webster after he passed away. It led to the investigation of CTE in other NFL football players and eventually the lawsuits related to the discovery. Dr. Omalu was portrayed by actor Will Smith in the movie, “Concussion.”
Currently, the WWE is defending a lawsuit brought by former contracted wrestlers related to CTE. Of the claims, it believes that the WWE knew of the dangers of performing but allowed its contracted workers to continue with stunts that caused head trauma.
Parsons’ diagnosis is ominous for Bellator and the UFC as they need only look to what has gone on with lawsuits in the NFL, NHL and WWE. Certainly, Parsons is just one case, but it could lead to further investigation with former fighters that might bring legal action against promoters.
October 19, 2016
Bellator’s Scott Coker announced on ESPN’s Sportscenter that Chael Sonnen will take on Tito Ortiz which will headline a show on January 21, 2017 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Sonnen announced his return to the sport last month. He has participated in grappling matches and served as a WSOF color commentator during his time away from active action.
Ortiz has not fought since a submission loss to Liam McGeary in September 2015.
Bellator is getting the same treatment as the UFC as ESPN is giving the Viacom-owned company the same platform to announce major news. Sonnen-Ortiz will have some good promotion leading up to the fight but we will see how much the actual fight will live up to the lead-up. Certainly, the shoulder programming, which we anticipate to be on SpikeTV, should provide some interesting color. We assume that this will be Bellator’s next tent-pole event.
October 18, 2016
The UFC has responded to claims that Georges St-Pierre is a free agent. Not surprisingly, the UFC denies claims that GSP is free from his contractual obligations from the UFC.
On The MMA Hour on Monday, GSP declared that he was a free agent per his attorney. His claim was that the UFC did not provide GSP with a fight and as a result his contract was terminated.
In a prepared statement, the UFC responded later in the day:
“Georges St-Pierre remains under an existing agreement with Zuffa, LLC as his promoter. Zuffa intends to honor its agreement with St.-Pierre and reserves its rights under the law to have St.-Pierre do the same.
It looks like we may be heading to a legal dispute over GSP’s contract. The declaration of a terminated contract by GSP was reminiscent to Rampage Jackson’s claim that he was free from Bellator’s contract due to not fulfilling certain things within the contract. As you recall, a lawsuit occurred and was subsequently settled. You can bet that the UFC would oppose GSP from fighting in another organization if it boils down to it. GSP’s lawyers seem confident that there was breach of the contract, and/or an unmet requirement within the contract which allowed for the termination. We will see if the parties can come to a resolution prior to litigation.
September 26, 2016
Bellator Kickboxing drew 287,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night according to Sports TV Ratings.
Friday’s event was live from Budapest, Hungary. In addition, the event which aired from 9:00pm-10:51pm ET drew 105,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.
Bellator went up against College Football on FS1 (USC/Utah) which drew 1.042M viewers. The event was the lowest-rated of the 3 thus far as Bellator is attempting to re-introduce kickboxing to Spike. Thus far, it does not seem to be working.
September 21, 2016
Bellator 161 peaked with 966,000 viewers on Friday per Nielsen. The adjusted viewership with DVR +3 ratings brought the event up to 758,000 viewers.
The Spike telecast was the #3 live sporting event on cable on Friday behind college football.
The event featured Cheick Kongo and Tony Johnson with Kongo taking the victory.
The event drew 686,000 viewers on Spike TV in live plus same day viewership. The DVR+3 ratings represents a 10% increase over the live numbers. The numbers are slightly down from last month’s Bellator show.
September 19, 2016
Bellator 161 drew an average rating of 686,000 viewers on Friday night on Spike TV per Sports TV Ratings. The event ratings represent a slight decrease from last month’s event.
The event which featured Cheick Kongo taking on Tony Johnson drew 330,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo. Kongo earned the majority decision over Johnson.
The 2016 average is 736,500 but if you take away the huge tentpole event of 149, it is 642,000. College Football on Friday night was the big sports event on cable with a game between Baylor-Rice drawing 1.454M viewers on ESPN. The viewership looks to be on par with what it has been throughout this year.
August 31, 2016
Bellator 160 this past Friday peaked at 1.1 million viewers on Spike TV. It drew another 833,000 viewers in DVR + 3 ratings.
Bellator 160 featured Benson Henderson taking on Patricio “Pitbull” Friere. Henderson won via TKO although the stoppage occurred due to a broken fibula sustained by Pitbull.
The overnight viewership for the event was 725,000 and the DVR numbers increased the ratings by 13%.
Notably, Bellator 159 peaked at 1,015,000 viewers in July. It increased in viewership from 668,000 viewers to 709,000.
August 29, 2016
The event featured Benson Henderson as he took on Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Henderson won via TKO due to a broken leg sustained by Pitbull. Henderson will take on Michael Chandler in November.
The event scored 327,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo. It was an increase from last month’s 283,000 viewers in the demo.
A rather light night of viewership in sports TV cable ratings as no event surpassed 1 million viewers. The live NFL Preseason game on the NFL Network drew 918,000 viewers. The game was opposite Bellator in the second hour of the Spike event. Also, ESPN’s College Football Primetime scored 782,000 viewers in the same time frame. Either the event was not heavily pushed or Benson Henderson is no longer a fighter to watch as the ratings saw a modest increase.
August 26, 2016
The LA Times did a feature in anticipation of this weekend’s MMA/Boxing doubleheader in Southern California this weekend. With Bellator having a show at the Honda Center in Anaheim Friday and PBC doing an event on Saturday, the story outlines the differences.
Friday night’s card features former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson while Saturday features Robert Guerrero. The story details how Guerrero is an example of how losses do not matter so long as you can produce great fights. This is a product, according to the article, of the MMA culture which does not penalize a fighter for a loss. Rather, the type of style of fighting is more important.
For its part, MMA has evolved into more of a striking sport rather than grappling. The story points to the lack of submissions at last week’s UFC 202.
I think that boxing and MMA can be complimentary to each other rather than competing. This weekend’s “doubleheader” in combat sports is a likely test to see if Spike can do another similar weekend. Bellator has tried to mesh kickboxing and MMA to mixed results. While the article indicates that MMA is taking from boxing with more fighters standing up and boxing is taking from MMA by producing better quality matchups regardless of Ls, I think the overarching point is that both sports are promoting excitement to entice fans. That translates to more action which could lead to highlight knockdowns or knockouts. While neither boxing or MMA will outright say it, there’s the belief that sudden violence that attracts the casual fan to the sport.
August 24, 2016
Former UFC middleweight Rory MacDonald has signed with Bellator according to FloCombat. MacDonald’s last fight in the UFC was a June Fight Night loss to Stephen Thompson.
Regardless of the outcome of the last fight on his contract, MacDonald wanted to test the free agency market per multiple reports. According to MMA Fighting, the UFC did not match the offer by Bellator and allowed MacDonald to head to the Viacom-owned Bellator.
Per MMA Fighting, he is eyeing a Bellator debut in the first quarter of 2017.
MacDonald’s last official disclosed payout was $59,000 at UFC 189 which was a loss to Robbie Lawler. One would think that he improved greatly on his salary otherwise one would think that the UFC would match it. MacDonald will find some interesting opponents in the Bellator middleweight division as he joins Benson Henderson as another former UFC fighter joining the organization. At 27, he is still young although you might say that the Lawler fight really took a lot out of him. He should be able to ascend to the top of the division sooner than later.