This past week, Bellator announced their 5th season tournament to begin in October, and it features heavyweights. And as a fan of MMA, there really looks to be NOTHING to get excited about again at Bellator.
With all due respect to the athletes, there is zero name recognition, and there is really very little buzz around any of the eight competitors. And as usual you have the always boring CEO Bjorn Rebney droning on about how he expects explosive and dramatic performances.
Strikeforce is still out there doing shows, but they are firmly a ZUFFA product now. Here was a chance for Bellator, the default number two MMA company, to make a statement, and they blew it.
Bellator could have altered their formula a bit for the 5th season, made a few splashy signings perhaps, and tried something new. Leave the tournament formula behind perchance? Hey, I love baseball, and you can certainly see compelling games and good players watching a college baseball game, but it is definitely not a pro game. Watching Bellator, you get the feeling your watching college baseball, it just isn’t the big leagues like UFC.
This maudlin lineup for a heavyweight tournament cements that feeling. Bellator has some compelling talent, their insisting on using the tournament format means we don’t see their top guys nearly enough.
I’d like to see Roger Huerta again, even if he has dropped 4 of 5 fights. It’s been almost a year. Eddie Alvarez? He is there biggest star and he hasn’t fought since April. It won’t be until the Bellator 54 event on October 15th that we see him again. Hector Lombard? Bellator has farmed him out consistently because they just can’t give him enough work. Joe Warren? Bjorn is talking about using the 2012 year to give him 7 or 8 fights. But he has fought twice in a year.
They have even dabbled in women’s MMA at Bellator, and with the UFC not committed, they could have created a niche for themselves there. Instead, they sign 8 average guys to a tournament in a weight division that is arguably the most boring in the sport.
Along with the news that SPIKE will continue to air UFC material throughout 2012, and that Bellator won’t be making a move from MTV2, Dana and Zuffa have to be laughing themselves silly. At least Strikeforce was compelling enough to buy, the UFC is just going to let Bellator die.