Posted 10/25/2013 by Marlene Taborda in Subo Says

Bellatorn: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Their (Only) PPV

By Derek Suboticki, October 25th, 2013 

Eight days from now, Bellator Fighting Championship will attempt to make the leap from free tv to Pay Per View. Leaving aside the debate over the merits of co-promotion and competition (or lack thereof), there is another about this specific event, headlined by light heavyweight legends Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson. Ultimately, the card on November 2nd presents a one-off question to MMA fans: should I buy it?

Those readers familiar with me already know my prescription, but given the scarcity of content from me over the last year (this shall change), many more of you can easily be forgiven for not jumping to conclusions as to my opinion. I appreciate that; the air of mystery is very important when you’re previewing pieces like this. Let me, however, refer you to my reaction when Bellator (to their credit) actually pulled off a pretty decent Roy Jones Jr – Tito Ortiz swerve.



No, no, no.

And now for the why.

1. Nobody is actually going to the event.

Whether reflective of the paucity of interest in the card itself, the seats – comparably priced to the UFC’s Fox event in December, at least cage side, Bellator 106 PPV  – being overpriced, or the sheer abundance of Saturday night entertainment options in Long Beach, Bellator’s ticket sales (and resultant gate numbers) are the opposite of encouraging. Just two weeks ago – and a mere three weeks and one day before the actual card itself – MMA Junkie’s John Morgan reported on Bellator’s gate woes.

Two points to mention here. One, Long Beach is a matter of miles from Huntington Beach, a.k.a the geographic region from which Tito Ortiz procured his nickname. Two, the arena in question holds approximately 13,000. Even with over 2,000 on consignment (pro tip: having more tickets on consignment than sold is never a good sign), the risk of combining a poor gate number with actual empty seats for the broadcast seems very real. If people within driving distance and with lifelong awareness of and affection for Tito Ortiz can’t be bothered to watch, why should you?

2. The card is… not stacked

While I’m known as a pro-Zuffa zealot, my collection of hardcore fan badges isn’t bereft of content.  Aside from watching the sun rise after all-night DREAM binges, my proudest accolades are my two Affliction PPV purchases. Hell, I was (and remain!) furious at Josh Barnett for preemptively destroying their final card, which was absolutely stacked. I’m an MMA fan, and I’ll be happy to compare local/regional card ticket stubs with most. This card simply isn’t good enough.

Now, those that read MMA blogs can probably give you Tito and Rampage’s collective UFC record over the last three years. It’s not worth reiterating here (although extra raspberries for Ryan Bader screwing up the futility streak). Instead, let’s compare the main cards of the two Affliction cards, which collectively averaged about 90,000 PPV buys apiece, to Bellator’s offering. I’d put in the AldovFaberFC PPV as well, but everyone would bitch about Zuffa advertising and Joe and Goldie.


Affliction: Banned (July 19, 2008)

Fedor Emelianenko v Tim Sylvia

Andrei Arlovski v Ben Rothwell

Josh Barnett v. Pedro Rizzo

Renato Sobral v. Mike Whitehead

Matt Lindland v. Fabio Negao

Mark Hominick v. Savant Young


Affliction: Day of Reckoning (January 24, 2009)

Fedor Emelianenko v. Andrei Arlovski

Jay Hieron v. Jason High

Josh Barnett v. Gilbert Yvel

Vitor Belfort v. Matt Lindland

Renato Sobral v. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

Paul Buentello v. Kirill Sidelnikov

Dan Lauzon v. Bobby Green


Bellator CVI (November 2, 2013)

Rampage Jackson v. Tito Ortiz

Michael Chandler v. Eddie Alvarez

Pat Curran v. Daniel Straus

Muhammed Lawal v. Emanuel Newton

Cheick Kongo v. Vinicius Queiroz


Yeesh. The difference in card quality is evident from top to bottom in a way that no number of meaningless trinket belts can impact. The best fight on the card – Chandler v. Alvarez II – is mercifully five rounds, but relatively passed over in terms of promotion, despite that fact that the two new deals signed by each may render it the most expensive fight on the card. Affliction also had, you know, the greatest heavyweight of all time – a mysterious Russian cyborg – attempting to take his ridiculous winning streak stateside. But in the new MMA landscape, where every Zuffa champion is the unquestioned best in the world at his/her weight, Bellator can’t hope to replicate that kind of cache. Additionally, WAMMA isn’t around anymore to attempt to sanction Curran/Straus as a FW title fight.

I mean, Cheick Kongo!

3. They treat their best fighters like dirt

“Well, sure,” you might be saying, “this card isn’t as stacked as Affliction’s, or even some of the better Strikeforce cards. That’s because of Evil Zuffa! This is why we need to support competition, to drive up salaries and make fights both harder and easier to make, and Pay The Fighters, and Freedom!” And those are all… completely invalid points. But let’s concede (here and only here) that competition is good in individual sports. Any kind of competition? Even if they’re awful at their jobs and screw over the talent their very existence is purported to protect? Is that good enough for you?

Eddie Alvarez shouldn’t be on this card. Eddie Alvarez didn’t want to be on this card. Eddie Alvarez has to be on this card because Bjorn Rebney, after years of statements to the contrary, prevented Eddie Alvarez from going to the UFC and making as much money as he possibly could. Ben Askren, Bellator’s reigning and undefeated welterweight champion, now finds himself in contractual limbo, afraid to take a Zuffa offer for fear that Rebney will exercise his matching rights (after, of course, Rebney systematically tried to bring down Askren’s value by publicly questioning his entertainment value and skills). Bellator has – and will continue to – cost its best fighters money by attempting to slow down or negate their ascension to the big leagues.

Is that good enough for you?

Look, clearly, Economics 101 had a major impact on your life. Maybe that Hayek>Keynes propaganda film produced by PBS before the economic collapse really seized your attention – particularly the parts about state-controlled industries with ominous Soviet chanting in the background. I get it. But it’s not enough to simply have competition. The competition must be good and financially self-sustaining. Bellator isn’t. That, more than anything else, is why you should not buy their first – and, by all available indicators, only – PPV offering.


Derek Suboticki  is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also co-hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at, also available as a podcast via iTunes.




Marlene Taborda