Bellator Inks Huge Deal With FOX Latin America

Bellator Inks Huge Deal With FOX Latin America


In what is, for a lack of a better term, a shocking bit of news today out of Buenos Aires, Brazil, FOX Sports Latin America has announced a multi-year deal, which will see the network become the exclusive provider of Bellator MMA content, in all of Latin America.

In an agreement that takes effect at the beginning of next month and encompasses 50 million households, Bellator MMA has made a quantum leap in terms of its importance as an MMA promotion and it’s something that might be cause for both concern and consternation, over at the UFC’s headquarters.

With the stroke of a pen, Bellator now has a huge foothold in Latin America and more importantly, Brazil and bizarrely enough, they’ve done it with the Latin branch of the UFC’s North American partners, FOX; odd to be sure.

With this deal (25 shows per year by 2015), it would be hard to argue that Bellator wouldn’t now be / going to be the senior promotion in the region and that the UFC, uncomfortably so, will be finding itself scrambling to catch up. If nothing else, having a presence this heavy in Brazil will bode well for the promotions rosters, long term.

In considering it, it’s hard to see how this doesn’t leave the UFC with some egg on their faces. It certainly begs the question of whether or not the UFC brass had been kept in the loop, or if they’d been told in advance of “FLA’s” impending deal, with Bellator.

The questions become even more interesting in terms of timing, given that the deal is set to go into effect prior to Bellator’s inaugural pay-per-view, which is coming up on November 2nd. Surely, it’s no coincidence that the two (the deal and the PPV) go hand in glove and will be a tremendous boost to Bellator for the event.

Regardless of either case, in the loop or out of it, the UFC can’t be greeting this news with either glee or dispassion. If they didn’t know they look stupid, if they did know they were told to be quiet about it and under either scenario, their partners are working with their competitors, and that can’t be pleasing the UFC brass.  

The deal also suggests that the UFC’s relationship with FOX might not be as cozy or secure, as Dana White and the Fertitta brothers purport or think it, to be. In analyzing it, one would have to think that the UFC would have prevented this deal had they been able to and would have gladly taken Bellator’s spot at the FOX Latin American table, had the opportunity been presented. However, they either failed to stop it or the fortuity was never prevented to them, but either way and in both cases, the UFC looks weak here and caught out in the dark, if not the cold.

It will be interesting to see Dana White’s reaction to the announcement and how he fields the questions on the subject. For years White has laughed at Bellator and written them off as a wannabe, Johnny come-lately promotion. However, with the advent of this news and all of the manna that will flow from it, White will (now) have a tougher time laughing at Bellator.

Out of all of this, the most critical question that needs to be asked is this, was the UFC informed of the deal prior to its negotiation or signing? If the answer is no, then the UFC might be looking to find a new home when their FOX contract is up. To have this deal pop up and in a region where the UFC has been working hard to break market, and where Bellator hasn’t spent a nickel or a minute, surely will be seen as a major slight and probably a stab in the back to the UFC, by their FOX partners.  

From FOX’s point-of-view, one would assume that they’re simply hedging their bets by working with both promotions. However, for the UFC, it should be viewed as being indicative of a lack of faith and real commitment from FOX. For if they can do this deal with Bellator today, what deals might they do in the future?

In conclusion, this should be a very interesting story to watch unfold this week in terms of its details and what the UFC did and didn’t know, regarding the deal.

The released statements are as follows:

Bellator MMA Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney:

“We’ve now taken a monumental next step forward in the evolution of the global brand that is Bellator. To have partnered with FOX Sports, Latin America’s largest and most powerful sports network is the perfect fit for Bellator, in this incredibly vital region. This is just the beginning of what Bellator and FOX Sports International, will build into the largest worldwide alliance in combat sports history. The possibilities that surround this alliance are nearly endless, including live events in key Latin American markets and the distribution of unique Bellator content exclusively, for FOX Sports.”

Carlos Martinez, President of FOX International Channels Latin America:

“FOX Sports Latin America has been looking for the premier mixed martial arts organization to partner with and Bellator is the perfect fit. We are thrilled to make Bellator the widest distributed MMA promotion in Latin America and Brazil, reaching more than 50 million homes from day one. We are also very excited to be able to work as partners with Bellator to produce large scale Bellator events throughout Latin America, and to produce reality shows in key territories. This partnership is a long term relationship that has virtually unlimited potential.”

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line. Whether or not you think you can or you can't, you are right. Fast / Good / Cheap...pick 2. Better an honest word to the ear, than a stiff punch to the jaw; ego kills. A hall passed through with the doors open, is a...?
  • Bruce Lee

    Wow. The paint must be peeling off the walls in Dana's house tonight.

    • ogobska

      Dana will go crazy with this. Brazil is big and all UFC events are always packed I don't know what to expect with bellator in this.

      • Brian Cox

        Ogo, hopefully what to expect out of Bellator in this is great MMA.

        If you missed either War Machine's or Douglas Lima's wins last Friday night, you should find them online and check them out; good fighters, good fights.

        Only thing I'm unsure of, is whether or not the 25 events per year that he's talking about, are separate from the North American shows. If so, that will give Bellator a stranglehold on Brazilian fighters, down the road.

        Big move for Bellator.

    • mmauk

      Not really, the UFC are no dummies, I know that the UFC progress in new markets or even established markets is actually an opportunity for those who know what their doing. The history of mma shows many don't they know what their doing hence the UFC's dominance. FOX's Latin branch like most company's that size probably make decisions independently, but I'd assume the UFC knew. BTW Bellator are the kind of company to take less money than their worth just to get exposure.

    • Brian Cox

      I think you have that one dialed in, Michael. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall when he found out. I'm sure it would have been pretty comical and rife with expletives.

    • David Saucier

      One possibility is that Bellator had a much cheaper price tag, fox might not of cared what brand they could get on tv, as long as they could get any mma on tv in Latin America.

      • falcon4917

        The other thing to take note of in all this is that Brazil has a lot of talent and has produced multiple UFC world champs and multiple p4p contenders. Now that market will be on full tap to Bellator and this will likely have massive ramifications to the UFC who depend on Latin America for a massive portion of their top fighters. Bellator will likely be the company Brazillian fighters will start to work towards because at first it will likely be easier to get a life out of MMA and ultimately the swarm from opportunist fighters will get them some real talent that may make a real challenge to the top guys in the UFC and spark debate between the two companies to a new level.

  • mmauk

    @Brian Cox do you know what the deals worth and if all UFC events are on PPV in Brazil(or not) and there success or struggles over there in that regard. I only ask because Dana has spoken about turning down deals in the US most notably with HBO because of the money on offer and because they wanted control of production like showtime had with SF. I'm from the UK and the UFC have just done a deal with BT Sport, and I never understood why they never done a deal with SKY/Skysports which has ruled UK sports and satellite/cable subscription for 20 years now. I mean just to put the UK deal in perspective you have to get basic cable/satellite(SKY) then add Skysports packages over here. SKY/Skysports dominate that Market they have most delas every major sport HANDS DOWN. People already paying £40-£50 (60$) for basic Sky + the sports package , adding BT sport will add another £15. Yet I can only assume the UFC done the deal because BT Sport are pumping huge amounts of money and according to Dana they have people really passionate about mma over there.

    • Brian Cox

      UK, I have no idea as to what the particulars of the deal are, nor do I suspect they will be released. Regardless of what the money is, which we have to assume is nothing but "found" money for Bellator and given that they will have access to the Latin version of FOX television and marketing, it's nothing but a win / win situation for Bellator, no matter which way it's looked at.

      Conversely, it's bad news for the UFC.

      As to why the UFC turns this or that deal down, either here or in the UK, I have no idea and again, no particulars have ever been released. Subsequent to that, I can't nor should I, speculate.

      What we do know, is that somehow this opportunity flew right under the UFC's radar and as I noted in the article, I find it hard to believe that they wouldn't have jumped at this chance. Why wouldn't they, would be the question.

      As Mr. Stephensen stated, the paint must be peeling off the walls over at Dana White's house, tonight.

      One thing is for sure, the UFC can no longer take Bellator lightly or as a joke, in terms of competition.

      • mmauk

        I appreciate you not pretending to know or even guessing what the deal is. On the UFC's side there is some evidence to suggest they won't just sign a deal because of the obvious exposure benefits. That's why I mentioned the BT sport deal BT sport is literally a baby a few months old, they hvae no history in sports, they WILL NOT get full UK exposure with that deal. However Dana has said they done the right deal for the UFC so….

        • Brian Cox

          As I know nothing of BT Sport, let alone their UFC deal, I really have no idea as to the significance or lack their of, regarding the UFC singing with them or SKY Sports.

          In terms of them not signing a deal due to obvious exposure benefits, I have no idea what those are or would be.

          That aside, you seem to be suggesting some kind of conspiracy by the UFC to not be as big as they could be in the UFC. If so, it would be interesting to hear your theory.

          Why did they go with the lesser network and not the bigger?

          Why did they go with a package that would cost their fans an additional 15 pounds (24 dollars) and not go with the more affordable and more established, network?

          I'm at a loss on all of it, but I'm also at a loss to know how Bellator scooped them on Brazil, particularly with all the work and money they've invested.

          Strange day in MMA.

        • Brian Cox

          As I know nothing of BT Sport, let alone their UFC deal, I really have no idea as to the significance or the lack their-of, regarding the UFC singing with them or SKY Sports.

          In terms of them not signing a deal due to obvious exposure benefits, I have no idea what those are or would be.

          That aside, you seem to be suggesting some kind of conspiracy by the UFC to not be as big as they could be in the UK. If so, it would be interesting to hear your theory.

          Why did they go with the lesser network and not the bigger?

          Why did they go with a package that would cost their fans an additional 15 pounds (24 dollars) and not go with the more affordable and more established, network?

          I'm at a loss on all of it, but I'm also at a loss to know how Bellator scooped them on Brazil, particularly with all the work and money they've invested.

          …Strange day in MMA.

          • thexperience1

            The UFC probably could have went with Fox Latin but didn't because the conditions did not match UFC's standards. UFC wants and NEEDS control, to guarantee the kind of quality production that they are known for and on top of that they know their worth and wouldn't settle for less. Fox Latin is probably operating independently from Fox US, so their good relationship in the US does not cover the bases in Latin America.

            Like someone mentioned, Bellator probably settled for a deal that was most likely offered to the UFC but they turned down. It's hard to imagine FOX Latin not trying to get the UFC on their network as they have the most prominent Brazilian MMA Fighters on their roster. It was probably just not the right situation but for Bellator that NEEDS growth, they don't have the luxory of being picky.

            Also it's very unlikely the UFC did not know about this deal, i'm pretty sure they did.

          • Brian Cox

            Experience, I will be surprised to find out that the UFC either knew about the deal or had it offered to them.

            In terms of FOX Latin America operating independently, probably up to a point, but something the size of this deal, again, I'd be shocked if this happened without the ownership in the States not only knowing about it, but okaying it.

            Hopefully, we will get the answers to these questions this week.

          • thexperience1

            These networks make their own deals in their own markets. As long as whatever they sign or produce is within the companies guidelines, they make independent decisions on programming and production. It's very common. It's like that for most international networks.

          • Brian Cox

            Experience and again, I would need that confirmed for me.

            Either way, I'm sure we will have our answer soon enough; some reporter is going to ask White about it and we'll see what his answer is.

            Enjoy the TUF episode tonight, my friend. It should be epic.
            Meltdown, that is. :-)

          • mmauk

            Not a conspiracy theory just pure bewilderment tbh. I've done my best to break it down for you, the UK is one time zone we don't have these direct tv issues I hear about in the states, everyone pretty much has the same stuff unless it's an illegal satellite. I don't if you knew this the UFC have been on ESPN UK(nothing like US ESPN) which is an extra £10 $15, for like the last 6 years. I can only assume that experience is right, Sky Sports produce their own content for all sports they even have a F1 channel. The UFC's NEEDS as experience put it is probably why, because the pecking in the UK in not debatable or even my opinion FACT Sky sports have been no.1 for 20 years literally unchallenged.

        • falcon4917

          I think maybe the whole deal with BT sport is the very fact it is an all new channel. When a new channel comes out everyone checks it out. It's a great way to get fast broad exposure although I have not seen much promotion regarding UFC, just a new sports channel. But sports channels are a big deal.

  • Def_tac

    Dana's ways of handling business and how he treats people are catching up to him. Good to see he (Dana) will have to change the way he deals with his fighters and everyone else.

  • DeeJaySlyTee

    This is great for Bellator! They will have top tier fighters going to their promotion and finding a home were they are not walking on egg shells. UFC can't do jack about this.. this is FOX folks they run the show.

  • Krogan

    Hopefully this isn't the prelude to UFC buying and closing down Bellator.

    • MMAMarco

      With big money like Viacom behind Bellator, I don't think that the UFC will be able to buy this promotion out. MMA is becoming big business and, despite the fact that the UFC grew most of the sport, I don't think that big money players out there in entertainment/broadcast are going to just let the UFC automatically be the monopoly of it. They cannot have the UFC doing exclusive deals and leaving them out in the cold in the fastest growing sport globally. There is also the benefit that having strong competition weakens the UFC's negotiation position in future deals. They also working to change the equation from MMA = UFC to MMA > UFC. In any market, you cannot have a brand so dominate that all competing products are thought of automatically in that brand name (e.g. Kleenex for tissue).

  • enjoylife321

    correct me if I am wrong but isnt Dana the biggest hater of all when it comes to other mma organizations….He always says they mean nothing but he spends so much time hating.

  • thexperience1

    The deal is great fro Bellator for sure but in terms of actual profit, it's probably at a low but something positive to continue to build their brand. Needles to say they'll probably step into the UFC's footsteps and do a fightmaster brazil.

  • kungfurule

    I have said it before DW was good for the start up phase or 'wild west' period of development of the UFC but don't be surprised if the Fertittas push him aside for a more modern and sophisticated form of managment. If the UFC continues to lose money and market share DW will get his on 'you're cut' letter.

    • Brian Cox

      Kung, I must admit I've mused that possibility, myself. Dana was great for getting the UFC up and running, but his management style is not the most conducive for running a corporation of the UFC's size.

      I can't think of another sports CEO who is as abrasive and condescending as White can be. I love Dana, don't get me wrong on this; the sport would probably have died had it not been for him, his vision, passion and efforts.

      That said, not everything that he says or does is always the correct, the language that he uses is often unbecoming of a man in his position and the manner in which he (from time to time) trashes or talks about fighters, managers, people in or related to the business, is a little much and over the line, in terms of professional conduct.

      Dana's greatest quality is his passion for the sport. Sadly, it can also be his biggest flaw.

      I'm not calling for his replacement, but I'd sure like to see Dana get a makeover. The Dana I love, is the one who speaks calmly and bluntly, but minus the ubiquitous "F" bombs and personal attacks on people. To me, those are the two things that I wish I could change about Dana.

      Other than that, I think the only problem might be the job itself. White's job, if we think about it, flying all over the world trying to make the UFC a global brand, is a monumental task. Dana probably needs two or three copies of himself to do the job right. As such, I just wonder if the growth of his position has outstripped his ability to do it all.

      Other than that, he's done and is doing a very good job.

      • enjoylife321

        @Brian….Dana is a great promotor but the money and the brains of the organization are all fertita and their advisors in my opinion. I think Dana got pretty lucky associating himself with the fertitas. There is no way you can achieve this without billion dollar friends…That's why guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill gates is so amazing. UFC was already in operation before they took over. They simply just improved the business with millions already behind them. They hired corporate lawyers, the best marketing and event professionals. The gracie family didn't have the money to do that

  • TheRealDeal

    Bellator still is and always will be the minor leagues.

    • Ivy

      Some of the fighters in the UFC are minor leagues, and some in Bellator are major league. What's your point?

    • Brian Cox

      Cage, did you see Douglas Lima last weekend?

      Man, that cat is for real. War Machine, too. He's a tough dude. There's actually a lot of good fighters in the promotion and Ivy is right, there are average fighters in the UFC; they're not all great.

      There would be fighters in Bellator that are better than fighters in the UFC and that's just a fact, now.

      Bellator might be the minors right now, but give this new deal a couple of years and all those Brazilians looking to become the next big hit in Bellator and it could all well change.

  • mauromina

    now they just need to ink a deal in new york and bummmm KO

    • Brian Cox

      LOL! Oh, that would be funny.