Bellator received another crushing blow to their pay-per-view (PPV) last Saturday when lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez was found to have suffered a concussion in training, forcing him out of his pivotal trilogy-ending match-up with Michael Chandler at Bellator 120 this weekend (May 17, 2014) from Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi.
The card’s previous co-main event, a “bad blood-fueled” light heavyweight tournament final between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, was thrust into the headlining slot and the event was kept on PPV, for better or worse.
Many fans are questioning whether or not to actually pay .99 for the now stripped-down event, which also features Tito Ortiz vs. middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko.
While that may not sound like a surefire buy for most, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney not surprisingly believes otherwise. Although Bellator’s initial PPV effort, last November’s Bellator 106, was moved to cable at the last minute when headliner Ortiz was forced out of his bout with Jackson, Rebney told MMA Junkie that this card’s depth is what kept it on PPV:
“I’ve been in this 20-plus years, so these are calls I’ve gotten before. The difference between this call and the call that I got (for November’s show) was that this was an incredibly deep card with two true main events that were getting promoted equally – just a monster amount of depth. It was just one of those moments where you say, ‘There ya go,’ and we got through this.
You just pivot off of it and change all the advertising to exclusively focus on ‘Page’ and ‘Mo’ and you just move on because the card’s that deep.”
Those sound like the words of a promoter trying to save face for his once-promising card that nearly fell apart when what was by far their biggest bout became a scratch. Rebney obviously echoes the sentiment of “Rampage,” who has promised his match with “King Mo” will be worth the price of admission alone.
But Jackson and Lawal aren’t really all that relevant in terms of worldwide rankings, so that’s entirely up for interpretation. With a gloomy forecast on the horizon for Bellator’s first PPV numbers, Rebney continued to sell the show when asked if the main event was worth buying:
“Oh, without question. It’s a premium-level fight. ‘Rampage’ has won his last two with back-to-back knockouts. He looks like the old ‘Page’ again – he’s excited, he’s enthusiastic, he loves the game again. And ‘King Mo’ is ‘King Mo.’ If both Mike and Ed had fallen off, I never would’ve given it a second thought.
It’s a totally different situation than we had last November. Last November, we were like, ‘Yeah, maybe we should go to Spike,’ and our partners said, ‘Yeah, let’s bring it to Spike.’ But the thought never crossed my mind on this one.”
Both Jackson and Lawal are former champions, this much is true, but calling their match-up a “premium-level fight” is stretching it a bit. Will you be tuning in to watch Bellator’s inaugural PPV tomorrow night? And if you do, is it only because the UFC decided to take a week off?