clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bellator's Bjorn Rebney on Fox Sports Net, YouTube, Tournaments, More

Bellator Fighting Championships became the latest mixed martial arts promotion to announce a TV deal on Tuesday, with word that the promotion will have live fights on Fox Sports Net in 2010, as well as highlight shows on NBC and Spanish-language broadcasts on Telemundo.

In an interview with FanHouse, Bellator founder Bjorn Rebney said the new TV deals are a major boost for Bellator, but he added that not much else will change for the promotion. He said Bellator will continue to arrange its seasons around tournament formats, and will continue to put its best fights on YouTube. Rebney's comments are below.

On what this TV deal means: It means we were able to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish: We've increased the reach of our show dramatically in English-language households, we've established ourselves with a weekly show -- same time, same day, same channel. We have a deal in place to be on NBC. And after launching with ESPN Deportes and getting a following in the Spanish market, now we're with Telemundo which reaches virtually every Spanish household in the United States. It's a very strong alliance.

On keeping the announcement from leaking: I'm a little shocked that we were able to keep it as quiet as we were able to keep it because we've known about it for a long time.

On whether Bellator can stick around longer than other MMA promotions: This deal ensures that we're here for the long term. Bellator Fighting Championships will be around for five years, for 10 years, and we're not going away the way so many organizations have in this sport.

On reports that Bellator was likely to end up on ESPN or ESPN2: We had great success with ESPN. They were a magical launch pad and a really good partner -- they were great to work with. As for what happened with our negotiations with ESPN, I have to keep my conversations with ESPN confidential, other than to say they were great to start this off with.

On Fox Sports Net pre-empting Bellator for other sports: There will be times when they do. Our spot is an 8-10 spot Eastern time. We'll go 8-10 Eastern every Thursday night. The unique makeup of FSN is that if there's a big hockey game on FSN, we can get pre-empted, so yes, there will be some movement, but we're slated for a scheduled start time of 8 to 10 every Thursday night. On the West Coast, which is such a stronghold for MMA, they're going to delay our show three hours. So it will be 8 to 10 Pacific time, a three-hour delay in the L.A. market.

On Bellator's broadcasters
: I was very pleased working with Jon Anik and Jason Chambers calling our fights last year and I hope we'll have them both back next year. We're pretty confident we'll be able to keep both of our announcing teams, English and Spanish, intact.

On whether Bellator will you keep up its popular YouTube channel: Absolutely. Our content will remain totally accessible. When those Bellator moments happen -- when the next Toby Imada triangle happens, you're going to see it on YouTube. That's about building the brand. Much of what we accomplished last year was through YouTube, when those amazing Bellator moments happened. We're going to keep putting it out there.

On whether pay-per-view is a possibility: Yes, but the key to pay-per-view is doing it when the time is right. When the time is right for pay-per-view we'll look at that, but for now the key for us is to expose the fans to our great fights.

On the tournament format: The fighters controlling their own destiny is the cornerstone of our business. If we want to continue to expand the reach of fighting sports, they need to be better connected to other sports that have clearly defined ways for champions to be crowned.

On what's next for Bellator's four champions, Joe Soto, Eddie Alvarez, Hector Lombard and Lyman Good:
I'm keeping the guys busy. Joe just fought in Northern California and will fight again in January. Eddie fights Sunday in Dream. Hector and Lyman will fight again soon as well. Once our second season starts, we'll put them in superfights, and during Season 2 we'll crown four tournament winners in featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and middleweight, and then we'll have those tournament winners fight our champions in Season 3. In Season 3, we'll also do tournaments at heavyweight, light heavyweight and probably bantamweight.

On adding new fighters for Season 2: We're recruiting a lot of great fighters for Bellator, but I don't want to name any of them just yet because publicly identifying them heats things up.

On being a competitor to the UFC
: When I used to watch the IFL and EliteXC and Affliction talk about how they were better than the UFC, I thought they sounded like idiots. The UFC is, to a large extent, the reason we're talking about MMA right now. They do great shows. I buy their pay-per-views, I watch their shows on Spike, and I buy tickets to their events. They've been on the cover of Forbes. To say you're going to walk in and be competitive with the UFC doesn't make a lot of sense. At the same time, you shouldn't get into this business if you don't want to be competitive at the highest level. I don't think any legitimate businessperson -- or any legitimate fighter -- gets into it wanting to be No. 2. We absolutely want to be competitive with the best, and we're putting the deals in place to accomplish that.

On Bellator's pay structure: Our Season 3 championship tournaments will keep the same pay structure, where the winner gets $175,000. Our Season 2 challenger tournaments will still pay the winners more than $100,000 but it won't be the $175,000 that guys win for winning a championship tournament. When you're fighting for our title, you get more.

On where Bellator will have shows in 2010: All over the country. We've been talking to different venues and we'll be all over the country. We did events at the Mohegan Sun that were successful, we did a great show in Monroe, La., we had a show at the Hard Rock in Florida, and I think we'll be back to those places and some new venues. We'll be everywhere.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting