Comment: Bellator needs to learn from London confusion

Bellator’s London event caused mass confusion last Saturday and the promotion has a lot to learn from these mistakes.

We all love MMA. It’s probably why you’re here reading this article. We also love big events and promotions like the UFC and Bellator. In relation to the latter, there’s a lot of things the promotion needs to work on especially over this side of the world.

Now more than ever, the variety of MMA events and shows at our disposal is almost saturation overload for those who want to digest absolutely everything. That being said, the UFC and Bellator will always be top dogs for many a fan and now we can finally get to see Bellator more than we’ve ever gotten to in the UK and Ireland.

All that being said, Bellator’s events, particularly European events need to be better otherwise why laud them with praise with a mammoth TV deal if they’re continually going to fuck it up for diehards and casual viewers?

As I type, it’s now been six days since Bellator’s London event took place. Rafael Lovato Jr. caused a huge upset over Gegard Mousasi to become the new Bellator middleweight champion and james Galagher had an impressive showing.

These are things worth talking about but sadly it was the clusterfuck that is Bellator’s scheduling that made the most headlines.

Fight scheduling seemed to be the main talking point early last week with Fabian Edwards, a hot unbeaten prospect being relegated to the prelims rather than the main card which irked quite a few fans and media folk.

I mean, you can understand why. It’s not for the benefit of media folk to tell you how good Fabian Edwards is. We know that. It’s up to Bellator to maximise viewership on him so that the rest of the public get to see how good he is.

But, ok. We can live with that…. or at least we thought we could live with it up until the point when Bellator inexplicably stopped showing the final three prelim fights with Fabian Edwards still due to fight.

We were told that these would be broadcast after the main card much to the confusion and anger from fans and media through social media.

It’s things like this that don’t help you in the long run Bellator. For all the faults of the UFC, at least they show the fights as advertised on the platforms they’re meant to be broadcast from.

As for the main card… Boy oh boy…

We knew going in that the card would be split between two channels; Sky Sports and Channel 5 (Virgin Sport in Ireland) who have rights to Bellator’s European events.

So Sky got two fights including the James Gallagher and Paul Daley fights respectively. Channel 5/Virgin Sport would get the remaining three.

A bit messy overall but what got even more confusing was introducing two main events within the one main card as if the two channels were being given a mini event within the main card.

Confused? Yeah, me too and it’s (as I say) six days since the event and my head is still trying to figure it all out.

Not only that though, fans inside the arena – some of them anyway – got confused and left after the “Sky Sports main event” despite it officially being only the second fight into a five fight main card.

Again… Confused?

Bellator’s next European event is Dublin in September followed by Italy in October and they need to learn from these messy broadcasting schedules.

It’s simple. Put your best prospects on the main card or if the main card is stacked with talent, at least stick them high on the prelims and actually show the fights live rather than pushing them to a post fight broadcast when most fans will have tuned out.

At the end of the day, Bellator have prided themselves on allowing fighters to earn as much money via sponsorships on their fight gear – something the UFC don’t allow anymore having signed a lucrative deal with Reebok.

Fighters aren’t always full time and rely on these sponsors and their money to get them through a training camp and not allowing maximum exposure hurts them in the long term because of outrageous and ridiculous blackouts.

As for a divide in the main card, that probably can’t be helped but to avoid confusion, there can’t be anymore ‘double main event’ nonsense. It’s convoluted and unnecessary.

Like I always say, I want to give Bellator credit and praise when they deserve it but when they keep shooting themselves in the foot, they need to be pulled up on these things.

Lucky for them, these issues are easily fixable if they are willing to take on board some constructive criticism.

Scott Coker, you’re welcome.

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