Bellator 78 is tonite, and next week is Bellator 79, and despite a roster with several underused, established fighters, both shows are almost completely anonymous when it comes to name recognition. Heading into 2013 where Bellator will be airing on SPIKETV, the ratings have been heading down for season 7. For Bellator 79, Bantamweight Champion Eduardo Dantas and British KO artist Paul Daley have been pulled from the card, leaving another largely anonymous offering as they supposedly ramp up for the big time.Combine this with the announcement that Bellator is developing a reality show for their switch to SPIKE in 2013, and you wonder how a company can be so directionless after 70+ shows.
Eduardo Dantas especially, needed an appearance in the worst way. Because of Bellator’s limited vision tournament system, they did not have enough competition to keep Dantas busy, they allowed him to fight for SHOOTO in Brazil, where he was promptly KO’d by relatively unknown Tyson Nam. It isn’t like saving a guy with limited english for the SPIKE switch is going to help them, the best way to rehab Dantas would be to get him in the ring and let him fight his way through.
You have to go back to Benny Hill to find a British star in America. Beckham, Lennox Lewis and countless others have remained indifferent to the US public. So despite a rude exterior and a big punch, holding Paul Daley out instead of continuing to develop his highlight real by having him fight is a bad idea.
Daley was scheduled to fight Kyle Baker, but the bout is scratched, so if you already put a bet on it, look for the money back in your accounts.
So what does Bellator 79 offer? Half of the continuation of two tournaments. Stupidly, they have taken their Heavyweight (fattyweight) tournament and their Featherweight tournaments and split them up. In the fatties, Richard Hale faces Thiago Santos, and the featherweights feature Mike Richman vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev.
By splitting the tournaments, the live and viewing public is robbed of the drama of seeing the two men who will face each other in the finals, and they create an environment where the two finalists are fighting without equal prep time.
Look for Santos and Richman to be favored at the books. Santos was labelled world class by Bellator president Bjorn Rebney, but is frankly an oreo cookie away from failing to make weight. Shamhalaev is part of the vast contingent of Russian fighters Bellator has imported for season 7, and like most of the others, will be facing the toughest competition of their lives. Richman owns a quality win over Cris Hordecki and will likely be too skilled for the Russian.