King Mo signs long term pact with Bellator

August 28, 2014

Bellator MMA has announced that “King” Mo Lawal has signed a long-term extension with the company.  In a press release issued by Bellator MMA, Lawal called it, “one of the easiest decisions I could have made.”

Despite a 4-3 record since coming over from Strikeforce, Lawal will continue on with the company.  His last fight with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was likely the key to Bellator’s first PPV success.  His next fight will be on September 5th against Dustin Jacoby on Spike TV.

Lawal via the Bellator release:

“After everything that went down over the last six or seven months, I didn’t think this was something that would ever happen, but when Coker came on board with Bellator, everything changed. This is where I want to be. I don’t care who I fight, when it is, or where it is. I get paid to fight, and that’s what I’m going to do for Bellator. That’s it.”

With the signing, there’s no news as to whether he will continue with TNA Wrestling.

Payout Perspective:

In addition to the Lawal extension, Bellator signed Stephan Bonnar yesterday who has immediately called out Tito Ortiz.  Lawal’s signing makes sense for the organization.  While one might balk at his record and the disappointing Emmanuel Newton fights, his feud with Rampage helped spark interest in the product.  It’s clear the regime change has a direction and that includes keeping King Mo.

Alvarez given unconditional release from Bellator

August 19, 2014

Bellator has released Eddie Alvarez from his contract with the organization per a company Media Alert.  The media advisory also includes a statement from Alvarez.

Via  Bellator media advisory:

Bellator President Scott Coker has released a statement regarding Eddie Alvarez:

“We’ve granted Eddie his unconditional release. Eddie is free to explore the free agent market, we hold no matching rights, and we wish him the best in the future. We sat down with Eddie and his team a few times, and it became pretty clear early on that he just wasn’t interested in fighting for Bellator in the future. We want guys in this organization that want to be here, and after the history Eddie and the former regime had here at Bellator, we decided to move on. We wish Eddie the absolute best of luck with whatever is next for him. It’s a new chapter for everyone involved.”

Eddie Alvarez has also released a statement:

“This was a long process but it’s a decision that everyone seems happy with. I think it’s important to say that I am genuinely thankful for my time at Bellator. I know that sounds a little crazy given everything I went through, but I’ve fought there since 2009, and have been involved in some really amazing fights. The staff there always treated me great, and I’m going to miss seeing a lot of those familiar faces around for sure. Myself and my team had some really good discussions with Scott, but in my heart I knew I was ready to move on and start the next chapter in my career.”

Payout Perspective:

This move is probably not surprising to most following the situation since it was clear Alvarez wanted out and Coker likely wanted a clean break from the old regime. Releasing Alvarez under “amicable” terms lets Bellator move on without having to answer any more questions about the Alvarez situation and it allows Alvarez to move on with his career.  We’ll see if his career continues in the UFC or somewhere else.  The one negative for Alvarez here is that he loses leverage with the UFC in negotiating a contract since the UFC is the only place (with the money) where he can land.

UPDATED: 3pm 8/19/14.  And just like that Alvarez is in the UFC.

Coker says Bellator going month to month in 2015

August 18, 2014

New Bellator head Scott Coker stated that Bellator is going to focus on a monthly event in addition to four major shows which will likely feature the bigger stars for Bellator.

Coker revealed the news Monday which means that the upcoming 11th season will be the last with tournament formatting…for now.  Coker indicated that he may bring back the tournament if warranted.  In addition to the once a month event on Spike TV, the promotion would also do four major shows.  There was no clear indication whether the plan would eventually mean these shows would be PPVs although Coker stated the focus would be Spike.

(H/t:  MMA Junkie/The MMA Hour)

Payout Perspective:

The reduction of actual shows from 26 to 16 is the opposite of the UFC plan.  We’ll see if this works as Coker’s plan seems to be quality rather than quantity.  Certainly, focusing on a show a month allows for build and focus on the monthly event.  The one hurdle is keeping viewers engaged in the three or so weeks that its off the air.

Women’s MMA comes to Bellator

August 14, 2014

Bellator has announced that it is re-establishing its women’s division and announced the signing of Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd.

Via Bellator press release:

Bellator MMA has reestablished the women’s division with two of MMA’s top featherweights leading the forefront. Finding previous success in the female MMA game, Bellator President Scott Coker has added Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd to the roster to start the next era of the Bellator women’s division.

“We’re incredibly excited to bring in two of the best athletes competing in our sport today,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “We are making a commitment to bring back the female division to Bellator, and feature some of the world’s best in the Bellator cage.”

A former Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion and Remix World Cup Champion, Coenen has recorded a 21-6 professional record with 15 wins coming by submission and 12 in the first round. Ranked as the number two featherweight in the world, Coenen is ready to get back in the cage and put on an explosive performance for the fans in the first female fight under Coker’s reign.

Budd joins Bellator riding a four-fight win streak and is currently ranked as the number three featherweight in the world. Having previously fought for Strikeforce and Invicta, the Canadian striker is known for her strong Muay Thai background and is looking for a strong finish in her return to the bright lights.

Payout Perspective:

Gina Carano benefits the most from this announcement as now she has some bargaining leverage with Zuffa.  There were rumors that she had signed with Bellator but there has not been any official confirmation.  The addition of Coenen and Budd is a start and reflects another big move by Scott Coker.  With the apparent re-opening of women’s MMA in Bellator, we will see how the company will utilize its women fighters.

War Machine terminated by Bellator after incident

August 8, 2014

Bellator acted swiftly in terminating the contract of War Machine (FKA Jon Koppenhaver) after he is being identified as the prime suspect which found his girlfriend and another severely beaten.

Bellator President Scott Coker has issued a statement regarding Jon Koppenhaver, War Machine:

“We have a zero tolerance policy here at Bellator when it relates to any form of domestic violence, and after learning of this latest incident involving Jon Koppenhaver, War Machine, Bellator is releasing him from him promotional contract with the organization.”

Payout Perspective:

Although the organization could have waited until War Machine was found to obtain his side of the story, Bellator had enough information to render its decision.  War Machine has been in his share of legal troubles and the alleged assault on his girlfriend was the last straw not to mention domestic violence is something that can’t be tolerated.

Bellator 120 re-air on SpikeTV: 890K viewers

July 22, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Friday night’s replay of Bellator 120, the company’s first PPV from May scored an average viewership of 890,000 viewers.  The 3 hour event starting at 9pm ET/PT peaked at 1,334,000 viewers at 11:39pm.

The peak occurred at the beginning of the King Mo-Rampage fight.  Bellator 120 averaged 1 million viewers for 47 minutes of the telecast according to the Nielsen source.  It also was second in terms of viewership on cable in the Male 18-49 demo during the time period.

Bellator-PPV-Poster-Alvarez-Injury

Payout Perspective:

The re-air of May’s PPV which reportedly drew 100,000 buys showed that people that did not buy the initial PPV wanted to see it or for those that saw the fights, wanted to see it again.  Regardless, it’s a good number for what essentially was a rerun.  The PPV re-air is a good way to condition viewers to tune back in on Friday night’s for Bellator’s Summer Series with a live event happening this Friday.

Lawal, Lashley and Kongo added to 9/5 Bellator card

July 16, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that King Mo Lawal, Cheick Kongo and Bobby Lashley have been added to Bellator 123 which takes place on September 5th in Connecticut.  Lashley is a pro wrestler with TNA Wrestling and is currently its Heavyweight champion.

In addition to his pro wrestling experience, Lashley has competed in MMA.  The move attempts to bulk up an already stacked card which is headlined by Pat Curran defending his Featherweight title against Patricio Freire.

Bellator 123

The current card via Bellator press release:

MAIN CARD:

Bellator Featherweight Title Fight: Pat Curran (20-5) vs. Patricio Pitbull (21-2)

Bellator Heavyweight Feature Fight: Cheick Kongo (21-9) vs. Lavar Johnson (18-9)

Bellator Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: King Mo (12-4) vs. Tom DeBlass (9-2)

Bellator Heavyweight Feature Fight: Bobby Lashley (10-2) vs. Josh Burns (8-7)

The Bellator card will go head to head with a UFC Fight Night card that has been bulked up due to the cancellation of UFC 176.  The card, which takes place at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut is headlined by Gegard Mousasi taking on Ronaldo Souza.

Payout Perspective:

September 5th will be a big night for MMA fans as it’s the first time the two organizations go head-to-head on television and in the same state.  The signing of Lashley is somewhat surprising but it does add name recognition for the crossover pro wrestling fans.  With TNA Wrestling taping most of its shows through August already, it’s unlikely that Bellator can take advantage of the crossover on its weekly TNA shows (which draw over 1M viewers) unless it edits in info about Lashley in voiceovers.  Lawal and Kongo also make sense as Lawal can sell his fights and the ratings reflect that Kongo (for some reason) produces good ratings for Bellator.

Bellator 120 to air on Spike TV

June 25, 2014

Bellator MMA officially announced that it will replay its inaugural PPV from May on Friday, July 18th according to a press release.

Via Bellator press release:

Spike TV will telecast an encore presentation of one of MMA’s most memorable events of 2014, “BELLATOR MMA: RAMPAGE vs KING MO” on Friday, July 18 at 9:00pm ET/PT.

For the first time on free television, fans that missed Bellator’s first-ever pay-per-view event can witness the highly-anticipated grudge match between Rampage Jackson and King Mo plus epic upset victories for Will Brooks and Tito Ortiz.

Fans can also decide for themselves whether the judges had it right in the controversial decision victories that went to Rampage and Brooks. Also featured will be the Russian heavyweight clash between Alexander Volkov and Blagoi Ivanov and an exciting and entertaining performance from rising star Michael Page.

Payout Perspective:

Commercials for the replay aired during the Glory prelim on Spike TV Saturday night.  The replay gives those that passed on the PPV a chance to see it and it sells the product in time for the following week’s event on July 25th.

Bellator nixes tournament format

June 19, 2014

During the press conference on Wednesday announcing the appointment of Scott Coker as Bellator’s president, Spike TV President Kevin Kay made the  initial comment that Bellator would be moving away from the tournament structure to a more “traditional format.”

Coker also reiterated the move as he described evolving the league from tournament to a more traditional format.  Coker did state that future tournaments would be determined on a case by case basis.

Audio via MMA Fighting.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear now that the announcement last week by Bjorn Rebney which would grant any past tournament winner “tournament immunity,” was a pre-cursor to what Viacom wanted to see happen (i.e., elimination of tournaments to grant  matchmaker freedom).  Enter Scott Coker.  We might conclude now that Rebney and Viacom did not agree with the future direction of Bellator.  Also, Viacom likely saw Coker as the better executive that could steer the company in the direction it wants.  It will be interesting to see what Coker does with the fighters that have won tournaments and how he will set up fights especially for its next PPV.

Rebney out as Bellator head, Coker to step in

June 18, 2014

Bjorn Rebney and Tim Danaher have left Bellator as Scott Coker is slated to replace Rebney as the head of the promotion.  Viacom announced that Rebney and former president and CEO Danaher are done with the promotion effective immediately.

UPDATE 06/18/14: Viacom and Bellator have made it official: Scott Coker is your new president of Bellator MMA.

Josh Gross had the initial report first:

MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani added on to the report:

After the announcement, Rebney issued a statement via Jason Floyd:

Via MMA Fighting:

“I would like to thank Bjorn and Tim on behalf of Spike and Viacom for their dedication and hard work building Bellator from the ground up,” Spike TV president Kevin Kay stated. “They worked tirelessly in getting Bellator to where it is today. They were great partners to work with and we wish them all the best,” said Kevin Kay, Spike TV.

With Rebney and Danaher’s departure, Scott Coker is said to replace Rebney as the head of the promotion via MMA Fighting.  As we all know, Coker was the head of Strikeforce since 1985 when it began as a kickboxing promotion.

The move was discussed earlier in the week according to MMA Fighting and it was a matter of waiting out Coker’s non-compete with Zuffa, which purchased Strikeforce, for him to be hired.

Payout Perspective:

An interesting move by Viacom although there was much speculation about this shakeup for a while.  Rebney did a lot for the company and its first PPV did much better than expected garnering over 100,000 PPV buys despite losing the main event.  Rebney, the original founder, has received his share of criticism throughout his tenure for the organization.  We shall see what the appointment of Coker means for the company and whether it means a shift in direction for the company.

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