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Report: Viacom Purchases Bellator Fighting Championships

Posted on by MMAWeekly.com Staff

Spike TV may have lost the rights to the UFC, but they are definitely committed to the mixed martial arts business.

Viacom, the parent company of Spike TV and other entities like MTV, BET and Comedy central, has purchased a controlling interest in Bellator Fighting Championships and will move the fight promotion to Spike TV in 2013.

The news was first reported by USA Today late Tuesday night.

According to the report, Viacom opted to not only remain in the MMA business after losing out on the bidding to retain the UFC beyond 2011, but to become players by owning a promotion and investing in its future.

Bjorn Rebney, the current CEO of Bellator, will remain in his role as the head of the promotion, but Viacom will now own the majority stake in the promotion moving forward.

The deal will see Viacom take over Bellator Fighting Championships, which is currently the No. 3 MMA promotion behind the UFC and Strikeforce, both of which are owned by Zuffa LLC.

The current plan is for Spike TV to become the new home for Bellator Fighting Championships, but that deal can’t begin until 2013.

Spike TV owns the rights to the current UFC library through the end of 2012. As part of their previous agreement with the promotion, they can’t broadcast another MMA promotion on their network until that deal ends. The UFC is moving to Fox and their subsidiaries starting in 2012.

Bellator currently airs on MTV2 and will continue on that network for the immediate future, but they’ve already begun to be imprinted on other areas of the Viacom family, like their preliminary fights airing on Spike TV’s website.

Viacom now commits to MMA on an even bigger level as owners of a promotion, with the long term goals existing around Bellator’s success.

  • jared499

    Well this makes things interesting. Lets see what plan Viacom has for Bellator, this could be a game changer as far as BFC/Viacom being stiff competition for UFC/Zuffa. Bet Dana is not as calm as he was yeterday about competition level.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002185607265 christophersmatt

    This is fucking awesome. I was always wondering why Mark Cuban, Vince McMahon , Disney or NBC didn’t get into MMA? They all are capable and could easliy get distribution for a new MMA organization. Like Disney couldn’t air fights on ABC or ESPN? The UFC has a monopoly and the only one that wins from that is the UFC. Both the fighters and fans lose. Viacom needs to come out with a kick ass pay scale for fighters and get the UFC fighters to coem over. (not like it will be hard to pay a UFC fighter more, most of them get paid like 30-50k per fight if they are lucky!!)The UFC has been paying the majority fo their fighters SHIT, so much so that the UFC had to recently provide health insurance for their fighters cause they couldn’t afford to buy their own!!! Also Light weight champ Frankie Edgar was still working at his fathers plumbing company while fighting as a UFC fighter! Reason? He didn’t make enough money to survive on his own as a UFC fighter? And this is the top MMA organization in the world? Viacom has the deep pockets to take on the UFC and win.

    • http://www.twitter.com/uncanny390 uncanny390

      Yeah as tomkevill said below you are just wrong about it being better for fans that there be two major promotions. It is best for fans if all the talent is in one organization so we get the best fights.

      I dont think this deal is going to make any difference anyways. Its not like Bellator on Spike is going to come close to matching UFC on Fox, and Bellator is caught in an awkward situation where the only thing that keeps them interesting right now is their tournament structure, while at the same time the only thing holding them back is their tournament structure. We can see by the heavyweight division now how dumb it is to try to do tournaments when fighters get injured or have other problems, and we can see by their light heavyweight how dumb it is when your champions cant defend their belts consistently and have to take non-title fights. Yet their weight classes just dont have enough depth to get rid of the tournaments and keep it interesting. They have a long long way to go to be close to competing with the UFC.

    • bajafox

      Affliction paid top dollar to fighters, where are they now?

      For the UFC fighters it’s not about the money, for some it is, maybe the one’s getting closer to the end of their career but for most, they are there to fight the best in the world and prove that they are elite fighters.

      When you start putting money into an equation you get the MLB, NBA and boxing, a bunch of athletes who think they are worth too fkn much.

  • tomkevill

    how do the fans win? if they actually can offer competitive pay then the talent will just get split up and we will never see the best fights possible. So much of what you have said just makes no sense. Obviously you are just against the ufc for some reason. If it was so easy to just pay everyone more then the ufc why did affliction elitexc etc go down the toilet.

    You dont seem to realize MMA isnt mainstream. You also dont seem to realize that most of the money a fighter can make is through endorsements.

    Ill skip all your opinions on insurance and how much guys get paid. its just totally inaccurate.

    lastly, you say viacom could win against the ufc…. wouldnt that just create a new monopoly which you seem to be so against?

  • gnodeb

    How many times we should read that dead promotion is better for the sport then alive promotion. What is so good for fans and fighters when your business die because of miscalculation?

    Now, this is great news. Looks like SF is going down, so we need new organisation to take its place. BFC has great format. If their champ leave promotion, that is not devastating at all. The point is in tournaments. Tournament winner should win UFC contract :P not a belt. I hope they will realize that and wont make the same mistake as SF & Affliction.

    Overpaying UFC rejects is bad business. Producing new stars and selling them to the UFC is something I would like to see.

  • http://www.bloodyfists.net/forums/index.php SHORT_BUS

    The only way the fans win is if all the best talent is under one roof. That’s why the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL… are all so successful, the best play the best.

    People seem to think they can jump into the MMA business, throw a little money around and they will have themselves a top tier promotion and be raking in tons of cash. I think they fail to realize the tireless amounts of promotion, marketing and brand building involved.

    We’ve seen this song and dance before and we all know how it will end. When the dust settles they’ll just end up as another name on the tombstone in Dana White’s office and they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves.

  • http://www.bloodyfists.net/forums/index.php SHORT_BUS

    The only thing they need to do now is sign Fedor and agree to co-promote with M-1 and they’ll be all set…

    • http://www.twitter.com/uncanny390 uncanny390

      lol works every time

      M-1 is better at eliminating MMA promotions than the UFC is. They just have to team up with them.

  • jared499

    Difference between this situation and Affliction and SF is the BFC has deeper pockets now because of Viacom. They can afford to lose some money w/o the fear of going broke, just like Zuffa did at first. This does not mean that they should follow in the way of Affliction and SF and buy highly priced UFC cast-offs. I would like to see them go after some of the mid-level guys to add to the roster and develop from there. I would rather see them spend the money on mulitple fighters to build-up there rosters then to see them spend it all on a couple superstars. Go after UFC people who are stalled and not going anywhere: Florian, Fitch, Maia, Faber, BJ, Nate Diaz, etc… Most of these guys are not going to cost them that much, certainly not what Afflic/SF paid the likes of Fedor, Sylvia, Arlovski, Werdum, and Hendo. Plus a lot of these mid-level guys fight their ass off because they are trying to advance, not like the superstars that play it safe sometimes.

    This will do 2 things. 1 it will create good BFC divisions if they get enough people to jump. And 2 it will increase the pay of all fighters. If both companies are fighting for all fighters, pay goes up, not boxing pay, but definately higher then it is now.

    Only people that lose are the fans because the best fighters can be in different promotions.

    • sirreadsalot10

      A couple of points: First, boxing pay is only great for the marquee fighters. Some fighters get paid less than a thousand dollars per fight. Its true that the top UFC guys don’t make what top boxers do, but they spread the wealth through the entire tier of fighters much better than boxing promoters do. Second, MMA/UFC is not mainstream like boxing is but it is getting there. Fighter Salaries will continue to rise as revenues from sponsors increase. You should see that happen with the new Fox deal. Third, Spike had better not make the mistake of counter programming the UFC. I hear they are going to do that against the Velazques / Dos Santos fight and it is a huge mistake. If Viacom/Bellator pick a fight with FOX/UFC they will get crushed.

      • http://www.twitter.com/uncanny390 uncanny390

        And its especially good pay for some of the lower end fighters when you consider the bonuses. You can come into the UFC for your first ever fight, expecting to make 5000 bucks, and then BAM you pull in a crazy $75,000 extra because you got a decent submission. You cant find that anywhere else.

    • http://www.bloodyfists.net/forums/index.php SHORT_BUS

      “Only people that lose are the fans because the best fighters can be in different promotions.”

      LOL at only the fans lose.

  • MikeMc1983

    Don’t confuse having deep pockets, and acually using them. Viacom is going to do what they believe is the most profitable. As much as I like to think I’m smart, and “know” how to do things right; I think Viacom will probably be a bit better at planning.

    A lot of huge companies have deep pockets because they don’t throw money around like idiots.

    The most interesting thing to me is to see what buissness model they choose. They may change a ton and take it a different direction then anyone has. The didn’t just offer an investment with deep pockets. They took CONTROLLING intrest in Bellator. That makes me think they want to be able to make big changes. Hopefully that’s a good thing.