Leslie Smith finds new home in Bellator MMA

April 16, 2019

Yahoo! Sports reports that former UFC fighter Leslie Smith has signed with Bellator MMA and plans to move to Featherweight.

Smith’s last scheduled fight was to be almost a year to the day in April 2018 when she was to meet Aspen Ladd in Atlantic City.  However, Ladd did not make weight and Smith did not take the fight at a catchweight.  As those following know, it was to be Smith’s last fight on  her contract but Zuffa decided to pay her show and win money and then call it good despite her only promotion loss to Cristiane Cyborg.

Smith and her attorney Lucas Middlebrook believe that were abrupt dismissal from the company was due to her leading Project Spearhead which sought to have a vote of UFC fighters to determine whether they were employees of the company instead of independent contractors.  Smith had made a case with the NLRB and despite initial optimism which was in favor of Smith’s claims, they were denied.

She now gets a new start after what will be over a year away from fighting.

The new situation should be good for Smith and a move to the more competitive Featherweight division should yield her attractive fights.  Julia Budd is the company’s featherweight champion at this time.

 Payout Perspective:

MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with Smith and Middlebrook a couple months back.  Her return to fighting should help Bellator with any intent of building its women’s division.  She may be a polarizing figure depending on your view of her lobbying for fighters’ rights.  But through this, she has elevated her status as someone willing to speak her mind regardless of the ramifications.  We shall see whether she brings her Project Spearhead lobbying to Bellator.

Bellator 219 draws 307,000 viewers on Paramount

April 1, 2019

Bellator 219 took place Friday night in Temecula, California and drew 307,000 viewers on the Paramount Network per Nielsen.

The main event saw a good scrap between Brandon Girtz and Saad Awad.  Girtz defeated Awad in the lightweight matchup.  The event also saw the return of Daniel Straus as he submitted Shane Kruchten via first-round rear naked choke.

Bellator saw a slight increase in its viewership share with a 0.10 rating in the A18-49 demo.

Bellator went up against the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.  TBS ruled the night as it showed the Auburn-North Carolina game, which drew over 5.6 million viewers, the most for Friday night on cable.  It also showed Houston-Kentucky which drew over 3.4 million viewers.

Bellator
Event Rating
Bellator 214 697,000
Bellator 215 365,000
Bellator 216   DAZN
Bellator 217 349,000
Bellator 218 255,000
Bellator 219 307,000

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps you can chalk the ratings up to strong competition Friday night but this event, which also aired on DAZN, did not have much drawing power although the return of Daniel Straus was notable.

Bellator 217 draws 349,000 on Paramount

February 28, 2019

Bellator 217 took place this past Saturday night and drew 349,000 viewers via Nielson per ShowBuzz Daily.  The card took place in Ireland and featured James Gallagher as he defeated Steven Graham.

The event took place at the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland and drew 13,150 for a gate of $1.2 million.

The event aired on the Paramount Network and DAZN.

Saturday’s event was the lowest-rated of the three this year.  The 2019 average is down to 470,000 viewers.

The show on Saturday seemed to get overlooked due in part to the UFC event.  One would hope that Bellator would be able to turn the ratings around lest we see another decline in ratings this year.

Danis handed $7,500 fine and 6 month suspension for UFC 229 brawl

February 25, 2019

The Nevada Athletic Commission has handed down a punishment for Conor McGregor cornerman and Bellator welterweight Dillon Danis on Monday for his part in the UFC 229 post-fight brawl.

Danis was handed a $7,500 fine and six-month suspension retroactive to UFC 229 on October 6, 2018.  After Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated McGregor, the lightweight champ jumped the Octagon fence and made it to Danis and a melee ensued.  In previous commission hearings, Nurmagomedov and two of his corner: Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov were handed suspensions and fines.  McGregor was also assessed a suspension and fine for his part.

NAC officials noted that the suspension and fine for Danis was the result of unsportsmanlike conduct and evidence that he had to be physically restrained by security on multiple occasions as well as inciting Khabib’s corner.

Payout Perspective:

You might assess the aftermath of the UFC 229 suspensions and fines as heavy on Khabib and his corner and lighter on McGregor.  In fact, Khabib has said as much with the news of McGregor’s suspension.  Danis’ light fine will not make the Dagestani’s camp happy either.  You may argue that despite Danis’ taunts it was Khabib who jumped the Octagon fence to incite the altercation so the stiffer penalties should go to Nurmogomedov.   But no matter the suspensions an fine it feels like this rivalry is not over.

Bellator 215 draws 365,000 viewers on Paramount Network Friday night

February 19, 2019

Bellator MMA 215 drew 365,000 viewers on the Paramount Network Friday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. The ratings continue a precipitous slide for the promotion on television.

The event was the first of two nights for the promotion in Uncasville, Connecticut. Friday night’s event featured Matt Mitrione taking on Sergei Kharitonov in a Heavyweight matchup. However, the fight never came to fruition as an errant Mitrione kick hit Kharitonov for a low blow and the Russian could not continue.

The ratings reflect a continued drop in viewership for Bellator. One might argue that viewership may have been skewed since the event was also on DAZN. Yet, the ratings have seen a downturn over the years.

Payout Perspective:

Top Rank Boxing on Friday night scored 704,000 viewers on ESPN in the same time slot. While Bellator 214 did well in the ratings, the lack of consistency here should be a concern for the promotion. As Jed I. Goodman points out, there is a downward trend in viewership since its time on Spike.

Bader-Fedor fight drew 1.2M viewers on Paramount Saturday night

January 30, 2019

Bellator 214 scored an overall rating of 697,000 viewers on Saturday night.  The Fedor-Ryan Bader showdown drew 1.2 million viewers on the telecast.

Bellator 214 took place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.  It featured the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix with the promotion’s Light Heavyweight Champion winning the Heavyweight Championship.

Also on the card, Jaker Hager (aka Jack Swagger) defeated J.W. Kiser in the first round via submission.  The bout drew 809,000 viewers.  Aaron Pico’s surprising KO loss to Henry Corrales drew 808,000 viewers.

It was a busy night for sports on Saturday with PBC on Fox, Showtime’s replay of Pacquiao-Broner and the NBA on ABC and the NHL All-Star Game.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings are the best for Bellator since last January when Chael Sonnen faced Rampage Jackson at the beginning of the Heavyweight Grand Prix.  It should be noted that the top 3 fights lasted less than a round.  The Fedor-Bader matchup which drew over 1 million viewers was just 35 seconds.  Yet, the ratings show that there is an audience that is either looking for a UFC alternative or has been trained to look for MMA on Saturdays.  The good news is that Bader proved himself a star and Hager’s performance showed that he is a legit threat in the heavyweight division although we have yet to see his chin.  Perhaps the only bad news is the loss of Aaron Pico, a fighter the promotion had hoped it could promote as a superstar.  It still can but his fight style might need a quick rehab.

MMA Payout Year in Review: No. 7 – DAZN enters sports streaming market

December 28, 2018

This past June, Bellator MMA announced a deal with sport streaming service DAZN.  The late September 2018 launch in the U.S. of the $9.99 per month service was another challenge on the traditional way we watch sports.

Perhaps bigger than the Bellator deal, and securing another deal with Combates America, it signed Canelo Alvarez to an exclusive deal which began in December.  Alvarez pummeled an overmatched Fielding.

Bellator MMA aired several events which were exclusive to DAZN but also some events were also airing on the Paramount Network.  But the streaming on the digital platform allowed subscribers to see the Bellator product where the promotion did not have media deals.

DAZN is spending a lot of money for media rights and we’ll see if it pays off in the end.  For Bellator, it’s hard to decipher whether the deal will help recruit new fans to its product, but it gets it more exposure in previously untapped markets.

The question for Bellator will be whether it decides to abandon the notion of PPV and air exclusive events on DAZN.

Bellator ends year with 212 show drawing just 285K viewers on Paramount

December 17, 2018

Bellator MMA Live 212 drew 285,000 on Friday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event was the first of two shows taking place in Honolulu with the first event airing on Paramount.

The second event aired on DAZN exclusively.  Friday’s event also aired on DAZN.

On Friday night Michael Chandler regained the Bellator lightweight title from Brent Primus.  We also saw Javy Ayala tap out Frank Mir to strikes.

 

Bellator
Rating
192 770,000
193 470,000
194 476,000
195 465,000
196 420,000
197 242,000
198 598,000
199 605,000
200 421,000
201 466,000
202 405,000
203 471,000
204 319,000
205 346,000
206 DAZN
207 416,000
208 521,000
209 381,000
210 270,000
211 207,000
212 285,000

Payout Perspective:

It’s been a down year for Bellator ratings one would think that the DAZN partnership might alleviate some concern about visibility of the promotion.  The average viewership for 2018 is 428,000 viewers with the last 4 events not clearing the 400,000 viewers threshold.  In comparison, 2017 averaged 614,000 viewers with no event below 394,000 viewers.  This year there were 7 fights under 394,000 viewers.

 

 

 

 

RVCA and Bellator collaborate on clothing for Hawaii shows

December 13, 2018

In light of the promotion’s visit to Hawaii, RVCA and Bellator are collaborating on clothing celebrating this weekend’s shows per Bellator release.

The back-to-back events take place on Honolulu at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena on Friday, December 14th and 15th.  The first show on Friday will be a “Salute to the Troops” and feature Brent Primus taking on Michael Chandler for the lightweight title.  Saturday’s show will spotlight Hawaii’s Ilima-Lei Macfarlane as she defends her women’s flyweight title against Valerie Letourneau.  It will also feature the debut of Lyoto Machida for Bellator as he takes on Rafael Carvalho.

The RVCA brand has sponsored BJ Penn and Vitor Belfort in MMA.  They have also been associated with jiu jitsu as the Mendes Brothers are sponsored by the company.

This weekend, Kona Oliveira and Dustin Barca will represent the brand.  The clothing will be sold at the events and on RVCA.com and Bellator.com.

Payout Perspective:

Although this release came out last week, it seems like a good reminder considering the amount of combat sports this weekend.  With the UFC out of mind due to the Reebok deal, it would be great to see more RVCA/Bellator collabs if the clothing company decides to dip their toe more into MMA.

Bellator 209 peaked at 574,000 viewers

November 21, 2018

Bellator 209 peaked at 574,000 viewers on The Paramount Network per Nielsen.  The tape-delayed event from Israel drew 448,000 viewers in DVR + 3 ratings.

The event featured Patricio Freire as he defeated Emmanuel Sanchez.

The Live + SD viewership of the event on Friday drew 381,000 viewers.

The DVR numbers did not add much to the event which is unfortunate but expected considering this was a tape-delayed event.

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