Bellator MMA – Making A Case For More Exposure
By Christopher Jester
Bellator MMA is frequently referred to as the #2 MMA promotion. Whether that is simply just in North America or in the world, that is up for the fans and the media to decide. However, there is no denying that there is some huge potential for growth and prominence if Bellator plays their cards right. The reality is that as promising as Bellator is, it has very little household name recognition. Even after asking some fair-weather mixed martial arts fans what other promotions they watch, most couldn’t rattle off one other promotion outside of the UFC. This is a missing opportunity for Bellator, who is now on cable television and owned by Viacom. A few corrections could go a long way to help cement Bellator MMA in non-hardcore minds.
Truthfully, Bellator may achieve all that they want in the long-run through a slow, steady, and patient road to recognition. Unfortunately, the only press that Bellator seems to get now is bad press concerning the contractual dispute between Eddie Alvarez and Bellator, fake representatives, and other non-productive rumors. In my opinion, the organization should separate this stench of notoriety from their name and organization as quickly as possible.
What really is the issue here? Is it a simple ego battle between Zuffa and Viacom? Eddie Alvarez thinks so, and has gone as far as saying, “… this is a big dick-swinging contest between two big companies” when he a guest on MMAFighting’s The MMA Hour. What comes from this whole dispute is that Viacom looks like a tyrannical villain. Whether he gets out of this contract dispute or not, Eddie Alvarez will look like the victim. If the UFC picks him up, they will look like his savior from the oppressive Bellator and Bjorn Rebney. This is the sort of ill-repute that Bellator should avoid at all costs as they continue to grow their new relationship with Spike TV. They should end this battle. Yes, they may appear to lose but at least it will not deter from the future success of their brand.
Outside of legal concerns, the biggest shocker is that Viacom has yet to market Bellator MMA as much as they could. Everyone knows how large Viacom is as a company, yet outside of Spike TV there are very few commercials that can be seen promoting the upcoming seasons or stars of the Bellator tournaments. Yes, Fight Master, the new reality show headlined by Randy Couture, is coming very soon but Viacom is the owner of MTV, BET, VH1, and other channels popular television channels. What about attaching trailers to Paramount movies during box office summer hits? It just seems like a waste of resources and opportunities to further expose their product.
The strategy to select certain free agents, most are UFC castoffs, are sound. However, the issue here is that some of these castoffs carry the name and recognition they need. Some fans would follow Quinton “Rampage” Jackson over to Bellator just to see if he can knock someone out. The money it would take to get him may be what caused Bellator to shrug at the notion, but it was at least a viable option as far as publicity goes.
Picking up worthy free agents is the way to go. Finding more ways to promote their fighters and their shows is simply necessary. Viacom is too large of a company to not have commercials running on every channel they own. It is ridiculous that they haven’t done so already. There is no doubt that the tournament format will create superstars. Look at Michael Chandler and Pat Curran. The slow and steady approach will surely work out in the long run. However, is taking that turtle’s pace viable? A little more exposure could light the fire that Bellator MMA needs to showcase why they are the #2 MMA promotion in North America. Being owned by Viacom is a good weapon for Bellator, they just need to pull the trigger.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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