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Bellator's Rebney: Live TV Deal a Must for Next Season

With Bellator in the midst of promoting the biggest card in company history – Bellator 33 – which features a superfight between lightweight stars Eddie Alvarez and Roger Huerta along with a welterweight title match between unbeatens Ben Askren and Lyman Good, there have been complaints from fans about preemptions which make finding the organization's fights difficult.

But company Bjorn Rebney recognizes that addressing the issue is a pivotal development in any future growth. Currently in the midst of negotiations for TV rights to the upcoming fourth season which will begin in February 2011, Rebney says live television is a must.

"There's no question it's problematic," he told Ariel Helwani during Monday's MMA Hour. "There's no question it's an issue that for us to continue to evolve as a force in mixed martial arts from a promotional perspective, it's one that we're going to have to overcome and it's what I've been working on diligently with my team for a number of months now."

Rebney gave no indication as to whether Bellator would stay with current television partners including Fox Sports Net and NBC or move elsewhere, but sounded confident a deal would be reached shortly. More importantly for fans, he said the deal would guarantee live airings, finally addressing the preemption issues he termed "debilitating."

Fox Sports Net currently airs events in their entirety, though depending on other programming, some of FSN's 19 affiliates delay airings by as much as 48 hours.

"We're going to have some very big things to announce in short order," Rebney said. "They're not small deals, they're big deals and that take a lot of effort and a lot of time, and that's just the nature of the beast when you're cutting deals and television alliances.

"I fully anticipate we'll be announcing where we're going to be from a television perspective long-term long before season four kicks off," he continued.

Meanwhile, Rebney addressed the much-talked about fight possibility which would pit Bellator's lightweight champ Alvarez against Strikeforce's lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez.

Noting that while Alvarez has the upcoming date with Huerta, Rebney said that Bellator would be willing to send him as the representative to fight Melendez, even on the Strikeforce champ's home turf.

"There's nothing in the way of the Gilbert Melendez and Eddie Alvarez fighting," he said. "We're happy to do it on any network. We're happy to do it in any venue. And we're happy to do it on any date."

Asked who would broadcast the show, where it might take place and how purses would be divided, Rebney said he would be willing to let the fight air on Showtime, take place in Strikeforce's home base of San Jose, California and address the money situation.

"I have a lot of respect for [Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker]," Rebney said. "He's a good guy and he puts on great shows. He packs arenas and puts on good cards. But Scott has been saying, 'Well there's a lot of issues.' There really aren't. If Eddie beats Roger Huerta, the only issues are Scott saying yes."

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