Bellator MMA on Tuesday revealed that Showtime would be the new home of the fight promotion, beginning with its re-start on April 2.
The new partnership puts Bellator on Friday nights, just after the promotion had moved to CBS Sports on Thursday nights during the tail end of 2020.
So why did the Showtime move come so soon after the move to CBS Sports?
“When you look at the trajectory of Bellator, who they’ve been able to sign as free agents, their ability to build new stars and contribute to the sport, the time just felt right for us to combine forces,” said Stephen Espinoza, President of Showtime Sports. “Bellator has matured and elevated itself to a point where it now belongs on a premium television network.”
It’s a monster move for Bellator and they are going big right out of the gate on Showtime, with a stacked month of fight cards that includes a much anticipated Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Bellator kicks off on Showtime on April 2
Bellator prepared for the move by signing a flurry of top tier talent, with the spotlight zeroing in on light heavyweights Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Yoel Romero.
Not wanting to risk the match-up, Bellator officials on Tuesday announced that Johnson and Romero would fight in a quarterfinal bout of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix on April 16.
Prior to that event, however, Bellator kicks off the move with events on April 2 and April 9.
Bellator 256 on April 9 also features the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix with former 205-pound champion and current heavyweight titleholder Ryan Bader squaring off with Lyoto Machida in the opening round.
Bellator 255 takes place on April 2, featuring the re-start of the Featherweight Grand Prix. Champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, puts his belt on the line in the semi-final round of the grand prix opposite Emmanuel Sanchez. The winner will then face AJ McKee in the final.
For the foreseeable future, Bellator events will air on Showtime on Fridays, starting live at 9 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. PT.
Bellator MMA moves to Showtime
(Video courtesy of BellatorMMA)