Although Bellator officials likely weren’t doing cartwheels after the ratings for the promotion’s “Summer Series” came up short, it’s been a pretty good year thus far for the organization (the legal dispute with Eddie Alvarez aside of course). In recent weeks Bellator has signed one of the sport’s biggest names in “Rampage” Jackson, added additional UFC vets in John Alessio and Diego Nunes, as well as made the legendary Randy Couture part of its programming presence. In addition, Bellator moved to SPIKE to begin the year, and the ratings for its eighth season of action blew away what the promotion was drawing on MTV 2.
Recently, UFC boss man Dana White discussed with MMA Junkie.com the continued emergence of Bellator, and not surprisingly, the promotion’s president doesn’t appear worried.
“They’re never going to be as good as us. This is what we do 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Christmas. Easter. Let Christmas time come. Viacom shuts down from Dec. 3 to after the new year and then all the big holidays in between. Christmas? I’m on the f—ing phone on Christmas. Easter? I’m on the phone. Thanksgiving? I’m on the phone. Bad s–t happens in our business every day, and if something real bad happens, I’m on a f—ing plane on Christmas Day flying to fix it. That’s the difference between us and everybody else.”
“We’re the original. We invested in this thing and believed in it when nobody else did. Viacom MMA, they’re just a ‘me, too.’ They didn’t believe in this thing when we pitched them ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ They didn’t believe in it so much that we had to invest $10 million into that show, and then they liked it a lot better after that happened. But they never got it, and they never will.”
There is certainly something to be said for the experience advantage the UFC has over any other major promotion, as White and ZUFFA were willing to risk significant amounts of money to legitimize and expand the sport, when most mainstream interests viewed MMA as ‘barbaric.’ As a result of the company’s extensive work and years of dedication, there’s no other promotion that rivals the UFC in scope and reach. That said, Bellator is unquestionably a success story that not many observers saw coming when they started holding events in 2009. Four years and 96 cards later they’re still around and growing. How many promotions have tried to entrench a national presence only to crash and burn within a few shows?