Wake Up & Smell the Bellator
Can you smell what the Bellator is cooking? In just three years, Bellator Fighting Championships has done something that no one thought would be possible in such a short period of time . . . they’re changing the face of MMA.
Take it from a die-hard Zuffaite, and I never thought I would say this, but these guys have the talent and structure to be serious contenders in the years to come. And if you’re not on the bandwagon yet, I guarantee you will be in the next 12 months.
While Bellator languished in relative obscurity during their first two seasons on Spanish only broadcasts, they are now sitting as the big #2 to the juggernaut UFC. Bellator is the new Strikeforce, Strikeforce 2.0 if you will. They’ve taken the best of old school UFC with tournament driven cards, developed talent from within the organization much like the TUF series has for the UFC, and have kept their fighters hungry with incentive based match ups. They’ve solidified their status as the #1 contender to UFC’s title and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Much of what makes Bellator different is the eagerness of their fighters to perform at the highest level and give the best they have time in and time out. These guys are battling through a tournament format to earn their title shot and make their name in MMA. They don’t have to ever wonder what their next match up will be as long as they win which means there is no favoritism and no question of who’s next. The gold is there at the end of the rainbow with a 100k tournament win pay out, and in the matter of just 3 straight wins they are guaranteed a title shot. Maybe even more important is the fact that every single fighter on a Bellator card knows that any potential future move to the UFC is dependent on their performance. These guys have something to prove and it shows when you watch a Bellator event.
For those of you not in the know, Bellator Seasons typically run for 12 weeks straight with weekly shows highlighting specific weight class tournaments with eight man brackets. The quarter final winners go on to the semi final round 4 weeks later with a tournament finale being held at the end of the season to crown the tourney champ and #1 contender. Bellator shows currently run on Friday Nights and are broadcast on MTV2. Come 2013, BFC will land on Spike and that’s when things will get interesting.
Bellator currently boasts a much deeper talent pool than Strikeforce, and with a mainstream cable channel push in 2013, they’ll be ready to really shake things up. With Champions and contenders like Cole Konrad, Ben Askren, Michael Chandler, Pat Curran, Eddie Alvarez, Joe Warren, Maiquel Falcao and Ben Saunders along with a talent rich group of guys from the 135 pounders through the Heavyweights, Bellator is more relevant now than Strikforce has been in over a year. Strikeforce has been all but gutted and only two champions exist in the entire organization, Luke Rockhold and Gil Melendez. Not exactly overwhelming, I know. They have no 135, 145 or Heavyweight divisions and only have one upcoming show. To say that Strikeforce is on life support is an understatement.
While the sting of Strikeforce’s eminent demise brings a tear to my eye, the prospect of another serious contender to the UFC can only bode well for true MMA fans. They put on excellent shows with fighters that look to finish . . . what else can you ask for? I’m here to put everyone on notice that Bellator is for real and can’t be ignored any longer. If you love seeing competition at a high level, you’re only hurting yourself if you don’t tune in. Many of these guys will be crossing over to the UFC in the years to come, and guys like Douglas Lima and the Pitbull brothers will be on everyone’s radar in just a few years. Count on it.
MJ on MMA