It’s not secret that Bellator Fighting Championships is making a big move to start off 2013, switching from MTV2 over to Spike TV, the network that launched The Ultimate Fighter.
Bellator and Spike TV officials on Tuesday finally started to flesh out the details, however, revealing some key information for fans that are looking forward to tuning in.
Bellator’s 12-week season eight launches on Spike TV on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 10 p.m. ET. The Thursday night, 10 p.m. ET slot will be the promotion’s home for the duration of the season.
Past season’s have competed directly with several other MMA events, primarily the UFC and Strikeforce, by airing on Friday or Saturday nights. That made for stiff competition and tough timeslot for television.
The Thursday night slot also avoids direct conflict with the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter series, which is moving to Tuesday night’s on FX in January.
Bellator kicks off its run on Spike in a big way, leading off its Jan. 17 Bellator 85 broadcast with a featherweight title fight between champion Pat Curran and Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and headlining the card with another title bout. Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler puts his belt on the line, when he squares off against tournament winner Rick Hawn. UFC veteran Renato “Babalu” Sobral will also make his promotional debut on the card, facing Mikhail Zayats in one of the first Season 8 light heavyweight tournament quarterfinal bouts.
The promotion’s second effort on Spike, Bellator 86, is just as ambitious, obviously trying to get some momentum right out of the gate.
Welterweight champion Ben Askren defends his title against Karl Amoussou, and also features the Bellator debut of Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, a fighter that the promotion and Spike officials are banking on for cross-promotional success between Bellator and TNA’s Impact Wrestling.
The weekly events will air live at 10 p.m. ET on the East Coast via cable providers, but will be tape delayed until 10 p.m. PT on the West Coast. For those customers that get Spike TV via a satellite provider, the events will air live across the country since satellite providers pick up the East Coast feed.