Bellator’s PPV Doing Its Best, But Still Primed For Failure
Bellator’s best chance at a successful pay-per-view event has already passed them by.
Despite the clearly superior main event, the PPV card planned for May 17 at Bellator 120 is ironically far worse than the initial lineup for Bellator 106. Originally, the main event was set to be headlined by the remains of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and the ever-withering Tito Ortiz. Irrelevant as they are, they’re still two former UFC light heavyweight champions and arguable all-time greats.
But like clockwork, Tito’s injury scuttled the whole thing.
Now, Bellator’s going back to the well with the fight they should have been pushing as the headliner before—Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler—plus a pretty strong supporting cast.
But it is worth 40 bucks?
Remarkably, that’s actually a point worthy of real debate. It’s a rare weekend without UFC, WWE, or a major boxing event stealing the thunder, and Bellator actually set up some real compelling matches worth seeing. It’s like Bizarro MMA World.
As a reminder, this was the triple-header Bellator was going to put on PPV:
- Rampage Jackson vs. Tito Ortiz
- Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez II
- Muhammed Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton
- Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus
- Cheick Kongo vs. Vinicius Spartan
All things considered, that was far from a bad main card, and the three matches that remained after Tito pulled out more than lived up to the hype in hindsight.
Now, we’ve got the upcoming do-over for Bellator 120:
- Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler III
- Quinton Jackson vs. Muhammad Lawal
- Tito Ortiz vs. Alexander Shlemenko
- Will Brooks vs. Nate Jolly
- Michael Page vs. Ricky Rainey
Right off the bat, the main event is super-compelling, especially if Alvarez wins and attempts to jump ship (again) to the UFC roster.
Moreover, it’s going to be hilarious if Tito gets beaten to a pulp by an undersized middleweight. If that happens, it’ll probably be the end of his career and it’ll cost Bellator tons of money. But that’s the kind of matchmaking you have to do to interest the hardcore fans who actually know Shlemenko’s name.
Jackson and (ugh) King Mo are two fighters both well past their sell-by date, but at least Mo will probably get knocked out.
But—it’s just not worth $40, and especially not $45 for the HD broadcast.
Looking back on it, Bellator 106 was an incredibly solid event that could’ve reasonably popped a decent-ish buyrate. But a roughly a full year later, Bellator 120 feels like table scraps. Putting aside the obvious marketing disparity between a triple-championship event and a card headlined by one title lightweight fight, nothing here is so good that $40 seems reasonable.
In short, the price is too high.
If Bellator was charging just $30 flat, there would be some bigger buzz. At $20 with online streaming options, the event’s practically a steal. But just over a month out from the event, there’s little reason to buy the card in such a super-saturated MMA market.
Whatever Bellator’s expecting for their first PPV, their second try simply doesn’t seem to match up to the first one. At this point, it’ll be surprising if more than 50,000 households are watching it. And even then, it’s a much better bet that 40,000 of those households won’t be paying for it.
McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist. His work has appeared in NVision, Bleacher Report, PC World, Macworld, GamePro, 1UP, MMA Mania and The L.A. Times. Follow him at @KenTheGreat1 on Twitter.