Bellator 106 is slated to take place at the Long Beach Arena in California this Saturday night and as such, was set to be the promotion’s first foray into a pay-per-view format.
However, as we found out this past Friday, Tito Ortiz, who was supposed to be headlining the event with fellow and former UFC light-heavyweight Rampage Jackson, is a scratch and as a result of a fractured neck. Subsequent to this turn of circumstance, Bellator has opted to dump their PPV in favor of a free broadcast of the event on SPIKE TV.
In regard to the timely manner of Ortiz’s fracture and the justification it provided the promotion for augmenting its 106 format, it could easily be described as fortunate.
Fortunate in the sense, that it saved Bellator from making a series of costly mistakes.
Without sounding overly conspiratorial let’s consider what Ortiz’s timely fracture did for the promotion.
First, it saved them from taking the best card they’ve ever put together and wasting it on a PPV that no one was going to see, because no one was going to buy it; at least not all, but the diehard.
In a time when MMA fans are being saturated with the UFC’s own PPVs’ and free broadcasts, as well as those of Bellator itself and the WSOF, fans are hard pressed to find the time, interest or cash, to keep up with all the offerings. As such, this is not the time for Bellator or any other promotion for that matter, to be venturing forth into the PPV market.
Further and on the heels of the news that the UFC’s own PPV numbers aren’t doing as well as should be expected, the case is proven. The point being, that if the UFC is having a hard time selling cards the likes of Jones / Gustafsson or Velasquez / Dos Santos III, then Bellator is well off the mark in thinking that they can sell fans Ortiz / Jackson; particularly at $40 or $50 a pop. Had it been $10 or $20, they might have had a shot at some success. Alas and however, this was not to be the case.
Beyond the economic realities, there is the fact that the card was stacked incorrectly in the first place and that fans were left scratching their heads over how Ortiz / Jackson could be headlining the event. Clearly, the star fight of this card is the Chandler / Alvarez rematch and their championship bout, and beyond that, probably every other fight on the card over Ortiz / Jackson.
Further still and from a marketing point of view, it takes a card that fans have interest in, but would not have bought, puts it on free TV, and will now deliver, in all likelihood, great ratings for Bellator and SPIKE.
Conversely, it also saves Bellator from the embarassement of ridiculously low buy rates for their PPV and the associated negative message that it could carry, regarding Bellator and the quality of product they put on.
In considering all that has been gained and saved by promotion, fans might be stirred to find it all a little suspicious; a little too fortuitous. Fans might even become more wary, when they consider how easily the card could have been saved.
All the promotion needed to do, was leave the card as it stood, elevate Chandler & Alvarez to the top of the card, which they did, and then moved the Joe Riggs / Mike Bronzoulis “Fight Master” finale bout, from the (free) preliminary card, to the PPV. Likewise, they could’ve shifted either of the Karo Parisyan / Cristiano Souza or Akop Stepanyan / Mike Richman bouts to the PPV, and continued on.
Instead, Bellator opted to move two of the fights mentioned, Riggs / Bronzoulis & Stepanyan / Richman, to the main card, remove the Cheick Kongo / Vinicius Spartan bout, and then pull the plug on the PPV.
In a nutshell, if Bellator was truly committed to exploring the PPV market they could have easily moved forward with the card and ostensibly, with the same line-up they had; no harm, no foul.
Considering it all, if fans choose to muse as the circumstance of the cancelation and whether or not its cause is suspect or possible ruse, they’d be well within their purview to do so. Further, should Tito Ortiz magically return to health in the near to immediate future and scheduled for a fight that he actually takes, then the circumstances of his scratch and the PPV’s cancelation will become even more dubious.
That said and regardless of the truth of it all, fans have been granted a gift for this Saturday night, in the way of a great free card and if they were intending on giving the event a pass, they should reconsider, because it will be a great night of fights.
In closing, fans are sure to be wishing Tito a full and speedy recovery, but at the same time are sure to be quietly grateful for this sad, yet fortunate turn of events.
Attached is a video of Bellator MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney, explaining it all.
Bellator 106 takes place this Saturday and will begin airing on SPIKE TV at 9 p.m. EST.
The card and its final matches are as follows:
(Champion) Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez; lightweight title
Muhammed Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton; interim light heavyweight title
(Champion) Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus; featherweight title
Mike Bronzoulis vs. Joe Riggs; “Fight Master” tournament final
Mike Richman vs. Akop Stepanyan
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com)
Jesse Juarez vs. Joe Williams
Brandon Halsey vs. Hector Ramirez
Mike Guymon vs. Aaron Miller
Joe Camacho vs. Cleber Luciano
Darren Smith vs. Josh Smith