Category Archives: Bellator

Bellator President Scott Coker: UFC-Reebok deal 'should be against the labor laws or something'

One of the reasons Bellator could become more attractive to prospective free-agent fighters is the UFC Athlete Outfitting Partnership with Reebok.

The UFC-Reebok deal certainly hasn’t received better than a mix of positive and negative reactions since coming about in Dec. 2014.

It certainly weighed heavily on Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, who signed with Bellator in March after eight years in the UFC and won the title over Phil Davis at Bellator 180. In the lead-up to this past Saturday’s fight, Bader (23-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) raised some eyebrows when he told MMAjunkie in April he would make “three to four times” more in sponsorship money with Bellator than under the UFC-Reebok deal, which earned him just $15,000 in his 20th and final fight.

Bader’s situation might not necessarily be the norm, though. Benson Henderson, who was among the first in what’s become a notable list of fighters to jump from the UFC to Bellator, said he struggled to find sponsors because the market had largely dried up.

In any case, Bellator President Scott Coker can’t understand how the UFC-Reebok deal is even legal.

“Listen, they’re independent contractors. How they’re forced to wear a uniform, to this day, still baffles me,” Coker said during “The MMA Hour” on Monday. “It should be against the labor laws or something. Because you have to wear this sponsor thing? You have to wear this certain uniform when you fight? To me, they’re independent contractors. They should go out and get whatever sponsors they want, and if Ryan Bader or whoever went out and made a million dollars in sponsorship, good for you. We don’t touch any of that.”

Whether you’re in favor of the UFC-Reebok deal or against it, the fact remains it was agreed to without fighters involved in negotiations. And isn’t it fair to wonder if they should have say in something like this?

For more on the upcoming Bellator and UFC schedules, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie rankings, June 27: Welcome to the top-10, Kevin Lee

It certainly won’t come as welcome news to Michael Chiesa, but Kevin Lee is now in the top-10 of the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings.

Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC), of course, scored a controversial submission win over Chiesa (14-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in the main event of this past weekend’s UFC Fight Night 112 event, improving his record to 9-1 in his past 10 octagon outings – good enough to move into the top-10 in the world.

That move was just one of several resulting from a busy weekend of MMA action with UFC Fight Night 112, Bellator NYC and Bellator 180. Check out all of the changes in the newest edition of the weekly rankings.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Bellator, MMA Rankings, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2476 with Brett Primus and Zach Freeman

Stream or download Monday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Brett Primus and Zach Freeman.

Both fighters claimed victories at Bellator NYC this past Saturday, with Primus defeating Michael Chandler for the lightweight title and Freeman upsetting super prospect Aaron Pico.

You can listen below or download the episode from SoundCloud.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio
Source: MMA Junkie

What did we get for our money at Bellator NYC, and would we spend it all over again?

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Filed under: Bellator, News

A double knockdown. A “legends” fight between two 40-year-olds. A title fight that ended with a floppy foot and a “Three Stooges” gag. A hype train derailed the instant it left the station.

This is just some of what we got for our $50 when Bellator returned to pay-per-view on Saturday night. Whether or not you think it was worth the money, you have to admit it was memorable. Weird might be the better term for it, but weird is a type of entertainment.

Considering what Bellator has to work with, it might be a type that the Viacom-owned promotion has to get used to. Of the six fights featured on the pay-per-view portion of Bellator NYC, two were legitimate title fights, two were nostalgia-based old-timers affairs, one was essentially a local shoutout to the Gracie clan, and one was a coming out party for a blue-chip recruit.

So how did it all work out?

The welterweight title fight between champion Douglas Lima and UFC import Lorenz Larkinwas “underwhelming,” according to the not inaccurate assessment of potential future Bellator welterweight title challenger Rory MacDonald. The lightweight title scrap ended in a controversial upset victory for Brent Primus after a strange injury to Michael Chandler gave way to unintentional slapstick comedy.

The old-timers? Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko raced each other to the mat before Emelianenko once again lost his tenuous grip on consciousness, and then Chael Sonnen out-wrestled Wanderlei Silva before lapsing back into self-parody just in time for his post-fight interview.

That Gracie Jiu-Jitsu commercial? It went about like you’d expect, even if it was wedged bafflingly into the latter half of the broadcast to stifle momentum before the main event. The coming out party for Aaron Pico got spoiled by Zach Freeman, who reminded us that having experience matters more than having a Wikipedia page.

But when all was said and done, were you not entertained? Didn’t you feel like you came away with plenty to talk (and laugh and shake your head) at?

If the goal was to give us an event that we didn’t feel like we could miss, yet also one that didn’t feel like a weak knockoff of the UFC, it’s hard not to call this a success.

But coming out of Bellator NYC, it does feel like we’ve seen the glimpses of a workable strategy. Bellator has legitimate, relevant talents on its roster, but they don’t draw the masses. It also has fighters who were talented and relevant a decade ago, but who still put butts in seats, and the best of those realize that with less and less steak to sell, they need to focus more on the sizzle these days.

When combined with the inherent tendency toward the bizarre that exists in a sport like MMA, you have yourself a recipe for some memorable nights. You can get people talking, which is the first step to getting them interested. The appeal of a big Bellator event might never come with the exact same sales proposition as a UFC PPV, but that can be a feature instead of a bug.

What remains to be seen is whether or not it’s a viable way to make money over the long term. A few Bellator PPVs a year, when sprinkled with just the right blend of weirdness and seriousness? Sure, the hardcores will watch that. But are there enough hardcores buying enough events? Will we still want to see this plan in action a few years down the road, or does it only work as a bridge to something more traditional?

These are the questions Bellator is going to have to answer eventually. For now, all it has to ask itself is if we had enough fun – of one kind or another – to consider coming back for more.

And I admit it, I did. Even if I’m still not totally sure how or why.

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Scott Coker likes Primus vs. Chandler 2, Bader vs. 'King Mo' title fights after Bellator NYC

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Filed under: Bellator, News

Perhaps the greatest benefit to Bellator’s recent pay-per-view event was the fact it set up some notable matchups for the future.

Bellator NYC took place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York, and the main card aired on pay-per-view following the Bellator 180 prelims on Spike and MMAjunkie.

Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) won the main event while Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) scored a big knockout victory in the co-headliner. Douglas Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) defended his welterweight strap while Brent Primus (8-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) and Ryan Bader (23-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) claimed gold.

Although the plans aren’t concrete, Bellator President Scott Coker has some ideas for future fights, and he discussed with MMAjunkie following the event.

One of the big questions after Bellator NYC was whether Michael Chandler (16-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA), who dropped the Bellator lightweight title with a first-round injury TKO loss to Primus, will get an immediate rematch for the gold.

The extent of the Chandler’s ankle injury is unknown, but as long as Chandler isn’t out for an extended period, Coker said the two-time titleholder will get a rematch.

“We’ll do (the rematch) as long as Chandler can do it,” Coker said. “If he has to get surgery and he’s out for a year or six months or eight months, we’ll have to wait, I guess.”

As for new light heavyweight champion Bader, Coker said he has options. A third fight between “Darth” and Phil Davis (17-4 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) after their first two fights ended in split decisions is not the most appealing, especially with other notable fighters available.

Bader was originally supposed to fight Muhammed Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA) at Bellator 180, but “King Mo” suffered an injury and was replaced by Davis. Coker said he likes the original booking with Lawal, especially with Bader now the champ.

“Bader won, and we’ll see what happens,” Coker said. “‘King Mo’ comes to my mind right away (as his first challenger). For Phil, maybe he can fight Linton Vassell. We’ll find some fights for him.”

Another future title fight Coker expects is between 170-pound king Lima, who shut down promotional newcomer Lorenz Larkin (18-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) over five rounds. “Phenom” has been the most successful welterweight in Bellator history, but his biggest test could come next with Rory MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA)

As far as Sonnen, who earned his first victory in nearly four years with a unanimous-decision win over Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in their long-awaited main-event grudge match, Coker said he doesn’t know exactly what’s next.

Sonnen mentioned potential fights with Fedor Emelianenko, Tito Ortiz and even Bader after Bellator NYC. Coker said it’s hard to go wrong when booking Sonnen, and regardless of the opponent, he expects one of his most sellable athletes to headline again.

“Chael’s got four of five great fights ahead of him,” Coker said. “We’ll find an opponent that will be another big blockbuster event like this. I think he could main event for us again.”

For complete coverage of “Bellator: NYC” and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator NYC and Bellator 180 reactions: Winning and losing fighters on social media

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Since the early days when the sport was anything but a mainstream endeavor, the MMA industry has thrived and survived through various websites, forums and, perhaps most importantly, social-media platforms.

Fighters interact with fans, each other and many more through the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which helps outsiders get a deeper look into the minds of the athletes.

Following Saturday’s Bellator NYC and Bellator 180 events in New York, several of the winning and losing fighters, along with their coaches, training partners or family members, took to social media to react to the event or share a message with supporters.

* * * *

The defeated

The victorious

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For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator NYC post-event facts: Michael Chandler sets dubious title-fight record

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Filed under: Bellator, News

Chael Sonnen concluded his long journey back to the win column on Saturday when the three-time UFC title challenger was victorious against Wanderlei Silva in the Bellator NYC main event.

Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) capped off the organization’s return to pay-per-view with a unanimous-decision win over Silva (35-13-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) at Madison Square Garden in New York, making for what was one of many notable results from the event.

Bellator NYC followed the Bellator 180 lineup, which aired on Spike (after early prelims on MMAjunkie). The nine televised fights provided much in the way in the post-fight fallout, and for more on the numbers, check out 35 post-event facts to come out of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180.

* * * *

General

Bellator at Madison Square Garden

Debuting fighters went 3-6 at Bellator NYC and Bellator 180.

Betting favorites went 5-3 on the card. There were no odds available for one fight.

Betting favorites improved to 8-3 in Bellator main events this year.

Total fight time for the nine-bout Bellator NYC and Bellator 180 lineup was 1:33:36.

* * * *

Bellator NYC

Chael Sonnen

Sonnen snapped his two-fight losing skid for his first victory since August 2013. He earned just his second victory in his past six fights.

Sonnen earned his first decision victory since Jan. 28, 2012 – a span of 1,974 days (more than four years) and six fights.

Silva was unsuccessful in his return to competition after a more than four-year layoff. He hasn’t earned a victory since March 2013.

Silva has alternated wins and losses over his past seven fights.

Matt Mitrione

Matt Mitrione’s (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) three-fight Bellator winning streak in heavyweight competition is the second longest active streak in the division behind Cheick Kongo (five).

Mitrione has earned 11 of his 12 career victories by stoppage.

Mitrione has earned all three of his Bellator victories by knockout.

Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) fell to 2-1 since he returned from retirement in December 2015.

Fedor Emelianenko

Emelianenko had his five-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since July 2011.

Emelianenko has suffered all five of his career losses by stoppage.

Emelianenko suffered his first knockout loss since July 30, 2011 – a span of 2,156 days (nearly six years) and six fights

Brent Primus’ (8-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) six-fight Bellator winning streak in lightweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.

Michael Chandler and Brent Primus

Primus has earned four of his six Bellator victories by stoppage.

Michael Chandler (16-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA) lost the Bellator lightweight title for the second time.

Chandler fell to 5-4 in Bellator championship fights.

Chandler’s four Bellator title-fight losses are most in company history.

Zach Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) has earned six of his seven career stoppage victories by submission.

Zach Freeman

Aaron Pico (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) was unsuccessful in his pro debut.

Douglas Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) earned his first successful Bellator welterweight title defense. He failed to defend in his previous reign.

Lima’s 10 victories in Bellator welterweight competition are tied with Andrey Koreshkov for most in divisional history.

Douglas Lima and Lorenz Larkin

Lorenz Larkin (18-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) fell to 4-2 since he dropped to the welterweight division in January.

Larkin fell to 5-4 in his past nine fights.

Larkin has suffered five of his six career losses by decision.

Bellator 180

Ryan Bader

Ryan Bader (23-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) improved to 8-1 in his past nine fights.

Bader improved to 2-0 in rematches.

Phil Davis (17-4 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) has suffered all four of his career losses by decision.

Neiman Gracie (6-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) has earned five of his six career victories by stoppage.

Dave Marfone (5-3 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) suffered the first submission loss of his career.

James Gallagher

James Gallagher (7-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) has earned six of his seven career victories by stoppage.

Chinzo Machida (5-3 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) had his four-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since December 2010.

Machida suffered his first submission loss since Apr. 29, 2006 – a span of 4,074 days (more than 11 years) and six fights.

Heather Hardy (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), a pro boxing champion, was successful in her MMA debut.

For complete coverage of “Bellator: NYC” and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Glory days are over for B.J. Penn and Fedor Emelianenko, so why won't anyone tell them?

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC

The circumstances alone tell you how far B.J. Penn has fallen. Sunday night, a relatively lackluster UFC Fight Night event on cable TV, and he’s there opening the main-card portion of the show against a journeyman fighter coming off a two-year layoff.

Even worse, he loses.

This is the reality now for Penn. The UFC keeps giving him more chances to turn things around, lowering the bar each time he fails to clear it, and Penn keeps finding new ways to trip over it. This one – a majority decision loss to Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City< Okla. – wasn’t even as bad as some of the others.

He didn’t get knocked out. He didn’t get embarrassed. In fact, he came closer to winning than he has in at least six years. A solid right hand put Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC) down in the second round, and a few followup strikes from Penn (16-12-2 MMA, 12-11-2 UFC) threatened to finish him off.

But when Siver didn’t roll over and quit, Penn faced a real problem. Whatever he had, he’d just spent. Siver came out for the third round looking to do some work whereas Penn looked like he’d rather go home. Surviving seemed like enough for him then, and he barely accomplished that.

Put that in perspective, would you? The great B.J. Penn, a former two-division champ, one of the best lightweights in UFC history, and now he’s lucky to survive three rounds with an aging and rusty Dennis Siver. If he can’t do any better than that, why do it at all?

It’s a question you could just as easily put to Fedor Emelianenko, another ghost from MMA’s past who added to his list of losses this past weekend. Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA)  got put to sleep by Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) at Bellator NYC on Saturday night, which was his reward for being the slower party in the immediate aftermath of a rare double knockdown.

While Penn’s latest loss added to the worst losing streak of his career, Emelianenko’s snapped an actual winning streak. You know, sort of. Fighting in a string of smaller promotions in recent years has given Emelianenko the advantage of the friendliest possible matchmaking, along with some friendly judging to serve as an extra safety net.

It wasn’t until he signed with Bellator that he was forced to fight a real heavyweight for the first time in several years, and it ended with him laid out on the mat a little over a minute into the fight. Like Penn, he now finds himself a long way from the glory days of 2009.

And those days, they aren’t coming back. Not for Emelianenko and not for Penn. They must know that on some level, but they keep at it because they can. They can still pocket a paycheck for it. There are enough people for whom their names still mean something.

They have not yet been forcibly ejected from the sport, which means that as long they’re willing to take the beatings, they still have a home here. The pain and the public embarrassment is the rent they pay. As long as they regard it as a fair exchange, and as long as no one close to them can convince them to stop making it, here we are.

This is nothing new in combat sports, but that doesn’t make it fun to sit through. The current climate rewards name brands and nostalgia over actual skill and talent, meaning it’s never been a better time to be a past-his-prime fighter willing to trade what’s left of his reputation and brain cells for a few more nights in the cage.

Of course, another way of looking at it is that it’s never been a worse time to be one of those fighters, since those late career letdowns don’t come for free. There’s a price to be paid, and it’s not just in cable bills and pay-per-view dollars.

Penn and Emelianenko both seem eager to keep paying it, even if they might not know for years what the final bill comes to. The rest of us, we seem strangely addicted to this specific brand of sadness. We want to see fighters we know, even when it’s painfully apparent that the name is all that’s left of the man. We get that jolt of recognition, followed by the depressing reminder of their ongoing and inevitable deterioration.

Eventually, maybe we’ll decide it’s not such a good trade. Then again, we keep waiting for guys like Penn and Emelianenko to decide the same thing. So far neither one of us is truly ready to quit.

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and UFC Fight Night 112, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Brent Primus and Zach Freeman

Filed under: Bellator, News

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET with guests Brent Primus and Zach Freeman.

Primus is the new Bellator lightweight champion after defeating injured Michael Chandler at Bellator NYC on Saturday. Freeman scored a major upset over super prospect Aaron Pico at the same event.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

So, when is Bellator returning to pay-per-view? Scott Coker has a plan

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Filed under: Bellator, News

(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

NEW YORK – Bellator still has a future on pay-per-view, though it differs from MMA’s other top promotion.

Bellator’s second PPV event took place Saturday and featured a mix of familiar names and top prospects. The fight promotion, widely considered the No. 2 MMA organization behind the UFC, offered Bellator NYC, which took place at iconic Madison Square Garden.

Despite some unexpected results, it set up big fights for the future. It also underscored the different PPV strategies for Bellator and the UFC.

The Viacom-owned Bellator is not trying to replicate the UFC’s formula, which includes approximately a dozen major PPV shows per year, with 30 or so smaller events carried by its cable partners and UFC Fight Pass, its digital streaming service.

Bellator, instead, will air 20 or so annual events on Spike, but PPV is still in the plans, according to Bellator President Scott Coker. However, he tells USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie the next PPV show probably won’t come until the first quarter of 2018, and they will remain infrequent offerings. However, he said he was encouraged by Bellator NYC’s success.

“This was the biggest event in the company’s history,” he says. “We’ve got great fighters here, and I think people are seeing the talent on this roster. … This is a worthy (organization), and we’re right there at the top too.”

He says Bellator is focused on being a fan- and fighter-friendly organization with its own matchmaking style and production elements. Its biggest event to date wasn’t perfect, but it had some stunning outcomes and viral moments, both of which help justify a $50 price tag for a product otherwise available for free on basic cable.

Bellator NYC, though, had a stacked lineup, which helped draw an announced attendance of 12,133. Fight-hype specialist Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) earned a decision win over longtime rival Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in the headliner, and heavy-handed Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) scored a 74-second win over famed heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in a co-headliner that featured a rare double knockdown. Two new champs were crowned in three title fights, and unheralded Zach Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) submitted highly touted lightweight prospect Aaron Pico (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in just 24 seconds.

They weren’t all the best outcomes for Bellator’s matchmakers or marketing team, but the unexpected results created buzz and garnered fans’ attention.

“It’s such an exciting time to be a fan of MMA,” Sonnen says. “I thought the card as a whole was outstanding. … We did some pretty good business.”

Although Bellator debuted in 2009, the product has taken its current form only recently under the helm of Coker, who was hired as president in June 2014. The longtime combat-sports promoter knows how to put on an extravagant event, as his company roster attests.

“There’s more of it to come,” says Mitrione, whose bout with Emelianenko quickly became a viral hit. “They know what they’re doing. We’re leading the industry now, so now it’s (a matter of) what they can do to lead from the front, not chase from the back.”

The UFC comparisons are likely to remain, but Coker says he’s focused on Bellator’s own progress.

“People can compare us to whoever,” Coker says. “At the end of the day, we are an organization that’s come a long way in three years. We have record ratings, record sponsors, record international distribution. It’s owned by Viacom. That’s one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world. It’s one of the most powerful. It’s a good day when you have that kind of support.”

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie