Bellator is the number two fighting promotion in the United States after the UFC bought Strikeforce but I just can't get into their shows or their fighters. They have a show every Saturday night on the cable channel MTV2 but not every cable subscriber even gets that channel.
Having weekly shows on Saturday nights is a bad idea because at least once a month they have to compete with a UFC pay per view show, and there are also lots of other things to do on a Saturday night besides watching MMA fighters that you have never heard of.
I consider myself a big fan of MMA and even I don't watch their shows. I did watch their shows when they were on Thursday nights on the local Comcast or Fox affiliate. Back then, they had fighters like Roger Huerta on their shows.
Huerta is known by fans who watch the UFC but these days, the current crop of fighters on a Bellator card are basically unknowns.
How many of the Bellator fighters would make it in the UFC? I think Ben Askren, Eddie Alvarez, and Hector Lombard come to mind but the rest of their roster are just a bunch of guys that even the hardcore fans would not even recognize.
While the UFC is like the NFL of MMA, Bellator is like the UFL(United Football League). Fans don't know or care about the organization or the athletes.
Bellator would probably be more successful if they promoted their fighters better. As much as fans want to see entertaining fights, they also want to know about the fighters inside the cage. Fans want to get behind a fighter and cheer that fighter on, or hate a fighter so much that they want to see that fighter get knocked out.
A lot of these fighters have interesting stories and personalities but it doesn't matter when no one knows who they are or anything about them.
No one is going to stay home and watch nameless fighters on a Saturday night when there are a lot of other alternatives and options as far as entertainment goes.
For example, the past card had a fight between Richard Hale and D.J. Linderman. Who are these guys? That's the problem that Bellator faces as they go forward.
If fans don't care about the fighters, they won't watch the fights. UFC 129 is this Saturday night and the casual MMA fan doesn't even know who Jake Shields is.
Shields is the challenger in the main event at UFC 129.
How can you expect them to want to watch Richard Hale fight on a Bellator show when they don't even know who Jake Shields is?
What Bellator might need to do is sign some UFC veterans that might be available to them in the near future. For example, Tito Ortiz would be a great addition to Bellator. Many fans would tune into a Bellator show to watch Ortiz fight even if his best days might be behind him.
I don't think having their shows on MTV2 helps them as not every fan gets MTV2. It might be better if their shows were on HDNet or another cable channel that is more widely available than MTV2.
I hope Bellator will be successful and I'm sure I will tune into one of their shows once again, but right now, I rather go out on a Saturday night than stay in and watch their fights.