Bellator’s first attempt at exclusively streaming an event online was expected to have hiccups, but it was the United Kingdom’s television viewers that experienced the biggest disturbance.
When the highly anticipated Bellator 206 main event between middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and welterweight champion Rory MacDonald finally kicked off on Saturday evening, it was 10 p.m. in San Jose, Calif. (where the event was taking place) and 6 a.m. over in the U.K. Instead of seeing that superfight, British MMA fans who had stayed up to watch the show on Channel 5 were instead switched over to an episode of the children’s program Peppa Pig.
At the Bellator 206 post-fight press conference, company president Scott Coker was asked about how such a gaffe could happen and he initially deferred to Bellator senior vice president of marketing and communications Dave Schwartz for an answer. Schwartz explained that early morning programming in the U.K. does not allow for the kind of violent content that an MMA company like Bellator deals in.
“It’s government regulation that at 6 a.m. that content was not suitable so they had to switch to children’s programming,” Schwartz said. “‘Peppa the pig’, yes.”
Bellator 206 was being billed as one of the most important events in company history, with a trio of marquee fights headlining. In addition to the Mousasi-MacDonald match, legends Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Wanderlei Silva faced off for a fourth time in the co-main event, and welterweight stars Douglas Lima and Andrey Koreshkov met in a trilogy bout that also served to kick off the Bellator World Welterweight Grand Prix.
This was also the first Bellator event to be broadcast exclusively on the DAZN online streaming service. Any hiccups they experienced on that end paled in comparison to the U.K. fans missing out on the headliner.
All in all there were six fights on the main card, spaced apart by plenty of analysis, backstage interviews, and video packages, all of which contributed to the show running overly long. Coker apologized for the mishap and agreed the promotion needs to get to work on making this up for its U.K. audience.
“I think that when I think about the replay, I think that we can probably work it out,” Coker said. “But it’s six in the morning on a Sunday there and we won’t be able to work this out until Sunday our time, Monday their time. But we are working on it.
“Believe me, when it switched over there were a lot of texts going back and forth and they all were not friendly. We were trying to fix it, we thought it was a technical glitch. But it wasn’t, it was a governmental issue. I can promise you the next time it’s not going to happen. We’ll keep it down to five fights instead of six — like we normally do — and we tried to overdeliver for the fans and we just went over. It’s an unfortunate situation.”