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Live MMA Coming to MTV2 With New Bellator Deal

The latest channel to venture into televising live mixed martial arts fights is a network few had expected: MTV2.

Bellator Fighting Championships announced today that it has reached a three-year deal to air live fights on MTV2, starting in 2011. Bellator will continue with its seasonal format of 12-week, eight-fighter tournaments, with the next tournament beginning in March.

At first blush, MMA and MTV might seem like strange bedfellows. For that matter, MTV and any sport would seem to be a strange pairing -- isn't MTV supposed to be music television?

But there's a lot of overlap between the young audience MTV reaches and the young audience MMA reaches, and Eric Conte of MTV2 said in a statement that his network viewed MMA as a natural extension of what it already offers.

"MMA is at the top of our audience's wish list, and partnering with Bellator to bring live events and specials to MTV2 made complete sense since our viewers are so hungry to see more MMA on-air," Conte said.

There are a lot of details that still need to be ironed out, including times, dates and venues for Bellator fights. But with MTV2 in about 77 million households, this has to be considered a much better deal for Bellator than its previous contracts with ESPN Deportes (which aired all fights on tape delay) and Fox Sports Net (which used Bellator as filler programming squeezed in between local sports).

And for MMA fans, a new channel jumping into the live MMA business has to be considered a very good thing. Bellator has given fans a good product for two years, and this TV deal ensures that there's more to come.