Tyrell Fortune building brand, in no rush in Bellator Heavyweight division

November 7, 2019

Bellator heavyweight Tyrell Fortune is ready to build his brand whether it be MMA or boxing.  He’ll take the next step in his MMA career as he takes on former UFC heavyweight Azunna Anyanwu Friday night as part of the Bellator 233 in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

The former Olympic hopeful is 7-0 and is looking to extend his undefeated streak in MMA. However, Fortune is also considering boxing as he is entertaining offers to box.  Fortune notes that he’s already sparring a lot of heavyweight boxers and thinks it’s a logical step that he put on the gloves for pay.

Courtesy of Bellator MMA

But before he enters the boxing ring, he’ll discuss the move with Bellator.  “Before my last fight, they [Bellator] were all about it and then after [the fight] they did not want me to do it.”  Fortune submitted his last opponent, Rudy Schaffroth, via rear naked choke this past August.  Wanting to capitalize on his undefeated record, Fortune got back in the gym to train looking for his next opportunity.

Fortune, a Portland, Oregon native is currently training at Arizona Combat Sports.  He also trains with current Bellator Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader.  “I definitely pick his brain,” said Fortune of his time working with the double champ.  Even though he could eventually be on a collision course with Bader in the future, Fortune is not thinking about it at this point.  “I’m in no rush,  I don’t mind taking these guys out,” said Fortune of fighting his way up the division.

Fortune has a decorated amateur wrestling career with a couple junior college titles and a Division II Wrestling title while at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.  He then made a run at the Olympics in freestyle wrestling for Rio de Janeiro in 2016.  After falling short of his goal, Fortune made the transition to MMA in the same year and was signed as a prospect by Bellator.

In his previous fights, Fortune had been sponsored by Nike, a relationship that was born during his amateur wrestling career.  Originally from Portland, Oregon, and with the company headquarters in nearby Beaverton, it made sense that Nike would scoop up a young prospect like Fortune.  He notes he’s been sponsored by them since he was 14.  However, that relationship recently ended.  “I just recently stopped working with them,” indicated Fortune.  “They are not diving headfirst into MMA.”

Tyrell’s brother, Tyree, is also on the Bellator card on Friday fighting in the Prelims.  Tyrell said that he will definitely watch the fight prior to getting ready for his on the main card.  Tyree, also undefeated at 4-0, trains out of Portland, Oregon.  “I haven’t trained with my brother but we do share that camaraderie in the sport,” Fortune added, “[w]e do take and analyze fights together and I think that definitely helps.”

Light heavyweight Tyree Fortune fights against 2-0 Chuck Campbell on the undercard of Bellator 233 Friday night while brother Tyrell fights on the main card.

Bellator 231 on the Paramount Network draws 265,000 viewers

October 28, 2019

Bellator MMA Live 231 drew 265,000 viewers on The Paramount Network according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

Bellator 231 was the first of two nights of MMA action from The Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.  Friday night featured veteran heavyweights Frank Mir and Roy Nelson.  Mir won the bout albeit not very entertaining.

The event aired on The Paramount Network as well as DAZN.  The prelims of Friday’s event aired on the Bellator App.

Bellator 231: 265,000 viewers
Bellator 230: 202,000 viewers
Bellator 229: 301,000 viewers
Bellator 227: 276,000 viewers
Bellator 226: DAZN
Bellator 225: 285,000 viewers
Bellator 224: 325,000 viewers
Bellator 223: 386,000 viewers
Bellator 222: DAZN
Bellator 221: DAZN
Bellator 220: DAZN
Bellator 219: 307,000 viewers
Bellator 218: 255,000 viewers
Bellator 217: 349,000 viewers
Bellator 216: DAZN
Bellator 215: 365,000 viewers
Bellator 214: 697,000 viewers

Payout Perspective: 

I’ll be honest, I did not know that Friday’s event aired on DAZN only.  Based on the ratings, it appears that everyone else is tuning in on the app and not the network which doesn’t bode well for the network ratings.  While Friday’s event did better ratings than Bellator 230, it doesn’t say much.  With the main event being between two former UFC heavyweights, one might have though you would get more of a viewership audience.  Alas, it seems that most casuals that knew of the fight, did not want to tune in.

Bellator MMA 230 draws 202,000 on Paramount Network

October 15, 2019

Bellator MMA 230 on the Paramount Network Saturday night scored 202,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The telecast featured Rafael Carvalho as he took on Vadim Nemkov in a light heavyweight bout.  Nemkov submitted Carvalho who was making his debut at light heavyweight.  The event took place from Milan, Italy.

Bellator 230:  202,000 viewers

Bellator 229:  301,000 viewers

Bellator 227:  276,000 viewers

Bellator 226:  DAZN

Bellator 225:  285,000 viewers

Bellator 224:  325,000 viewers

Bellator 223:  386,000 viewers

Bellator 222:  DAZN

Bellator 221:  DAZN

Bellator 220:  DAZN

Bellator 219:  307,000 viewers

Bellator 218:  255,000 viewers

Bellator 217:  349,000 viewers

Bellator 216:  DAZN

Bellator 215:  365,000 viewers

Bellator 214:  697,000 viewers

(does not include DVR + 3 ratings)

Payout Perspective:

Ratings for the Bellator telecast this past Saturday were very low as has been the norm for its overseas events.  One Championship’s airing on TNT later on Saturday actually fared better.  Bellator on Paramount Network is averaging below 400,000 viewers per telecast as it seems that most viewers are tuning into DAZN to watch DAZN events rather than Paramount.

Bellator 226 payouts

September 13, 2019

MMA Payout obtained the payouts from this past Saturday’s Bellator event in San Jose.  Ryan Bader, Cheick Kongo and Emmanuel Sanchez topped payroll for the night.

Per the California State Athletic Commission:

Christopher Gonzalez  $10,000  (no win bonus)

Luis Vargas  $1,200


Hyder Amil  $2,000/$2,000 win ($4,000)

Ignacio Ortiz  $1,500


Renato Valente Alves $1,200/$1,200 win ($2,400)

Abraham Vaessau  $3,000


Batsumberi Dagsvadorj  $1,500/$1,500 win ($3,000)

James Terry  $3,000


Cass Bell  $5,000/$5,000 win ($10,000)

Isaiah Rocha  $1,200


Jessica Borga  $4,000/$4,000 win ($8,000)

Amber Leibrock  $12,000


Adam Piccolitti  $22,000/$22,000 win ($44,000)

Jake Smith  $13,000


John Teixeira  $17,000/$17,000 win ($34,000)

Ashleigh Grimshaw  $10,000


Cornelius Savage  $1,200/$1,200 win ($2,400)

Evan Gubera  $1,200


Daniel Gonzales $1,200/$1,200 win ($2,400)

Jonathan Adams  $1,200


Peter Ishiguo  $1,200/$1,200 win ($2,400)

Elias Anderson  $1,200


Alan Benson  $1,200/$1,200 win ($2,400)

Favian Gutierrez  $1,200


Tyson Miller  $1,200/$1,200 win ($2,400)

Albert Gonzales $1,200


Ivan Batinich  $1,200/$1,200 win ($2,400)

Daniel Compton  $1,200

Daniel Carey  $8,500/$8,500 win ($17,000)

Gaston Balanos  $10,000


Emmanuel Sanchez  $55,000/$55,000 win ($110,000)

Tywan Claxton  $60,000


Pedro Carvhalo  $20,000/$20,000 win ($40,000)

Sam Sicilia  $30,000


Adam Borics  $25,000/$25,000 win ($50,000)

Patrick Curran  $60,000


Derek Campos  $60,000 (no win bonus)

Daniel Straus  $55,000


Ryan Bader  $100,000

Cheick Kongo  $100,000

Payout Perspective:

Sanchez is the surprise earner for Saturday but he did draw a $55K/$55K contract for the $110,000 he made over Tywan Claxton.  Most of the prelim fighters were on the $1,200/$1,200 tier with few exceptions.

Bellator announces sponsorship deal with cbdMD

June 24, 2019

Bellator announced it has inked a multi-year CBD sponsorship with cbdMD according to a company press release.  The company touts itself as a nationally recognized consumer cannabidiol brand.

The partnership began at Bellator 222 in New York City.  As part of the deal, cbdMD will receive a depth of integrated partnership assets, including category exclusive branding inside the Bellator cage, to promote the cbdMD.

No financial details of the deal were announced.

Payout Perspective:

It was inevitable that Bellator would garner a part of the CBD industry.  The UFC partnered with Aurora Cannabis, it was only a matter of time before we saw other promotions secure CBD sponsor deals.  According to sources in a SBJ article, the deal with the UFC was reportedly worth $15 million over a 5 year span.  No word if cbdMD is paying anywhere near this deal, but it shoes the amount of capital the industry has at this time.

Jon Fitch reflects upon his start in MMA in book featuring personal journals

April 24, 2019

MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with Jon Fitch about his upcoming fight this Saturday with Rory MacDonald in addition to a book he released late last year about his time starting out in MMA.

The book, Falling Upwards/Death by Ego, Fitch draws upon journals he has kept throughout the years which included his start in MMA.

After learning about the sport of MMA while an amateur wrestler at Purdue, Fitch drove across country to AKA in San Jose to train to be a mixed martial artist.  The book reveals personal journals about his training, life and scraping together a living while working towards a goal of being in MMA.  “Self-therapy,” is what Fitch attributes to publishing the book.  “I wanted to tap back in and get back into that mindset of that hungry, young athlete.  It brought me back into a different place.”

Fitch admits that he was apprehensive about publishing his private journals for the public to see.  The book does not edit out his journal entries although Fitch provides some editorial context to what he was thinking at the time.  “Why should you be embarrassed of your life?” Fitch stated about publishing the journals.  “More importantly, there are people that have gone through similar situations [in their life]. If they can see somebody else there, they might be able to get through the tough spot.”

In retrospect, Fitch notes that his career in MMA including a lot of luck.  As many know, Fitch went to Purdue University where he was a part of the wrestling team. Tom Erickson, Purdue’s head coach, was a former Pride fighter.  Mark Coleman and Gary Goodrich trained with the team at times and would tell stories about their trips, travels and money they were making.  “It was real life bloodsport stuff,” Fitch described, “It was a much more interesting life.”

With a stipend for grad school after graduating from Purdue, Fitch started to train MMA in Indiana with not a lot of support.  He recalls training with the Purdue Judo Club because they were the only club around at the time that resembled MMA. He met up with former UFC veteran Brian Ebersole and became obsessed with martial arts.  He then saw a DVD with Frank Shamrock fighting Tito Ortiz that changed his life.  “I want to train where that guy [Shamrock] is.”

“I gave myself 3 years or run out of money,” Fitch said of his plan to move to San Jose and be an MMA fighter.  The 41-year-old Fitch recalls a time when he drove to an ATM late at night from working at bars to deposit dollars into his bank account to ensure he didn’t incur any late fees.

Out west, he found a home and would not return to the Midwest to become an educator. “I was having so much fun, I wouldn’t have gone back.”  The book focuses on his meager beginnings at AKA, his almost-famous moment of being on TUF and the ups and downs of trying to find fights.

In his book, he detailed his MMA and BJJ workouts.  He also was consistent in using crossfit as a way to supplement his MMA training. At 41, Fitch has made changes to his preparation and keeping in shape.  “I lift more consistently,” he stated. “I have found a better way to lift and treat it more like hygiene.”

Fitch has been one of the leaders in supporting the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association.  He wrote an op-ed for the Washington Examiner at about the same time that the second hearing on the Ali Act expansion was happening before Congress.  Fitch has been an advocate about fighters’ rights for some time now but when asked whether he’d embrace Leslie Smith and Project Spearhead if she were to bring the messaging to Bellator, he demurred.

While both MMAFA and Project Spearhead may want the same thing in the end, it’s clear that the sides disagree immensely on how the means to the end.

“I just don’t think she understands the market,” Fitch said.  “We were not seeing eye to eye.”  He described a “group chat” in which the interested parties were discussing the matter of fighters’ rights and Fitch indicated that they asked her to leave the chat so that they could discuss their position in private.

Fitch takes on Rory MacDonald Saturday in San Jose for Bellator 220 on DAZN.

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.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/15) outshines Bellator on Friday night

February 19, 2019

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN on February 15th drew 704,000 viewers per Nielsen according to ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured Rob Brant as he scored an 11th round KO over the previously undefeated Khasan Bayasangurov.

The telecast peaked at 769,000 viewers and was likely aided by the lead-in of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.

Live Boxing on ESPN 2019

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/2):  880,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/10):  655,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/15) 704,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

As we noted with the Bellator post, the ratings for Top Rank on ESPN Friday night well-exceeded its MMA competition on the Paramount Network.  As stated, the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game helped as a lead-in.  Of course, being on the main ESPN network also helps with just many having the network on as habit.

Bellator announces deal with Sky Sports for live broadcasts in U.K. and Ireland

February 8, 2019

On Friday, Bellator announced a one-year deal with Sky Sports to air its events live in the U.K. and Ireland. The deal begins with Bellator 216 featuring Paul Daley and Michael Page.

According to the agreement, Bellator will air via the European TV station a minimum of 20 U.S. and International events in the U.K. and Ireland.  Bellator President Scott Coker called the deal, “groundbreaking.”

Sky Sports confirmed that Bellator 217-220 will air live.  Previously, Bellator events had been on tape delay to the chagrin of U.K. fans.  The deal was announced after a press conference earlier this week announced a deal with broadcaster Channel 5 to air its European series this Saturday in Newcastle, England.

Payout Perspective:

The only drawback I see for fans is the time difference in which U.S. events take place.  But for the U.K. fans its better to stay up and watch rather than hear it on social media or wait for the tape delay.  The good news is that there is a level of interest that appears to be rising.

1.5M viewers watch Bader-Fedor on Paramount last Saturday

February 2, 2019

Last Saturday, 1.5 million viewers saw the main event of Bellator 214 with Ryan Bader taking care of Fedor in the very first round.  According to Nielsen via Bellator, the entire telecast drew 784,000 viewers in its 2 hour and 44-minute airing on the Paramount Network including the DVR +3 ratings

Bader won the Heavyweight title becoming a Bellator double champ with the win over Emelianenko.

In addition, the Aaron Pico-Henry Corrales fight drew 1 million viewers and Jake Hager-J.W. Kizer fight drew 1 million viewers.  Both of these fights ended in the first round.

In addition, Bellator outlined several other highlights from its broadcast last Saturday.

  • The most-watched Bellator event since Bellator 192on January 20, 2018.
  • The highest-rated Bellator event with adults 18-49 (.6) since Bellator 175on March 31, 2017.
  • The highest-rated Bellator event with men 18-49 (.73) since Bellator 192.
  • The second most-streamed Bellator event ever (on various Bellator/Paramount mobile platforms).
  • The most-streamed Bellator prelimany card ever.
  • The Ryan Bader knockout was among the most engaged posts in Bellator social media history with over 4 millionviews on various social platforms including a record number of video views on      Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • The week leading into Bellator 214delivered the second most growth for new followers to Bellator’s social platforms in franchise history.

Payout Perspective:

The numbers should please Bellator execs as the company has seen a decline in their ratings on Paramount in 2018.  The ratings, even though they include DVR ratings should show promise.  But the strong ratings are based on several minutes of viewership as the three featured fights lasted less than a round.  Yet, you could argue that there was strong interest based on the numbers. It also should be noted that the ratings do not include the number of those watching on DAZN.

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