Bellator Fighting Championships announced today that their events will be moving to Friday nights on MTV2 starting March 2 when they kick off season 6.
After a historic fifth season that saw Michael Chandler capture the Bellator Lightweight Title in a four-round classic that many critics labeled fight-of-the-year, and Eduardo Dantas, Douglas Lima and Alexander Shlemenko all earning tournament championships, Bellator will open their sixth season on Friday, March 2nd from a soon to be announced location. The premiere will mark the first time Bellator has aired on Friday nights.
“Our focus was to find the right night, where the largest number of MMA fans could enjoy the show,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “We’ve been discussing this move with our partners at Viacom for months. When we looked at the alternatives, we agreed that Fridays provided a great night for us to reach MMA fans with our live, real sport, tournament events every week.”
Speaking to USA Today, Bjorn Rebney explained that the decision was based on finding the right balance between maximizing their television audience as well as the live event audience.
“We didn’t really dig into the analysis and try to assess who was one, who was two and who was three, or what we were trying to avoid the most,” he said. “It just kind of came down to an analysis of, is there a night where all the factors made it to where we can maximize live-event attendance, where we can reach the largest audience from an television perspective, to give MMA fans an opportunity to really make a night for themselves with Bellator.”
“There’s a constant balance between television, which is your primary driving force behind building the brand as you’re reaching the available universe of millions upon millions of homes, versus the live event,” Rebney said. “We’ve always been very, very aware and very cognizant of how much live-event excitement plays into televised-event excitement. You can’t have one without the other.”
An official start time for their Friday night events hasn’t been determined yet, but they will face competition from the UFC when TUF moves to Friday nights on FX next year as well.
Rebney also confirmed that season 6 will feature five tournaments instead of four in an effort to create more frequent title challengers for their champions. We’ll definitely see tournaments in the middleweight, welterweight, lightweight and featherweight divisions in season 6, but the fifth tournament hasn’t been decided upon yet.
In related news, Bellator is still hoping to book a rematch between Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki next year, despite the fact that Alvarez just lost his belt to Michael Chandler. Bellator is also planning a featherweight title fight between Joe Warren and Pat Curran and rematch between heavyweight finalists Thiago Santos and Eric Prindle. They’re first meeting ended in a no-contest after Santos kicked a downed Prindle in the groin.
What do think regarding the move to Friday nights? With Bellator and TUF on Friday nights and the UFC or Strikeforce on most Saturdays, you’re going to have to give up both weekend nights if you want to catch all the shows live. Is anyone willing to do that?
Image via Dave Mandel for Sherdog