Bellator May Have Taken A Big Step Backwards With Last Night’s Pay-Per-View

Last night’s (Sat., May 17, 2014) Bellator 120 pay-per-view (PPV) event from the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, elicited a mixed bag of emotions from MMA fans everywhere.

On one hand, original lightweight championship headliner Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler III was hardly missed, as Chandler and Will Brooks delivered a rousing back-and-forth affair that could have gone either way. It may not have been the war we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Alvarez and Chandler put on, but overall it was definitely the best fight of the night.

However, it may have set Bellator’s big plans back in quite dramatic fashion, as well. There’s no question the promotion was counting on setting up the trilogy match sometime soon when Alvarez healed from his concussion, but now Brooks has thrown a serious wrench in those gears by obtaining the interim strap. Chandler could have easily taken the fight by winning the fifth round, but the judges didn’t see it that way.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney stated he may have to book Alvarez vs. Chandler III next anyway, but let’s be honest.

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That bout lost most of its luster after Chandler’s loss last night, and giving him an immediate title shot as a promotion struggling for relevancy may not be the best idea at this point in time.

That brings us to the night’s main event, the trash talk-hyped “rivalry” between former champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. The entire buildup to this fight seemed forced and generated, akin to the pro wrestling that “Rampage” and “King Mo” have actually participated in. Billing it as the “biggest rivalry in MMA” is just plain ridiculous.

As for the actual fight, well, we knew Lawal was going to wrestle and “Rampage” was going to lumber forward looking for a knockout.

Both things happened, but we didn’t necessarily have to pay to see what transpired.

Bellator most likely took big step backwards in their first attempt at a successful PPV card last night, and that’s unfortunate. The fact that the promotion had put on 119 cards prior to last night’s, shall we say, “underwhelming” event does not bode well for the company.

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They’ve put on exciting shows that outweigh Bellator 120 by a long shot, making their first PPV fall grossly short of expectations (although they probably should have been fairly low in the first place).

The example of former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz’s win over Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko only serves to support the idea that Bellator just doesn’t know what they’re doing when it comes to PPV.

Having Shlemenko, who should probably be fighting at welterweight anyway, face off with a big light heavyweight in a match that was once again billed as having “bad blood” due to Shlemenko’s call out of Ortiz, does nothing for Bellator.

If Ortiz had lost, the immediate sentiment would have been that he should retire right away. Instead he won the fight with a first round arm triangle, knocking off one of Bellator’s few fighters that actually maintained a degree of actual relevancy.

The whole production stinks. The announcers cried, “Tito Ortiz is back,” but is he really? He’s only back until he loses to a real light heavyweight.

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At the heart of the matter, Bellator insulted MMA fans’ intelligence a bit last night. They tried to sell us an overhyped, bloated card that lost its main attraction by emphasizing a WWE-esque trash talk-centered style of promotion, and that strategy will always keep them in second place.

It might even get them surpassed by World Series of Fighting (WSOF), who seems to take things a bit more seriously.

Bellator has some good, solid young talent that needs the spotlight much more than the fighters they’ve been choosing to focus it on lately. They were dealt a bad hand heading into Bellator 120, true, but putting all of your success on the backs of two UFC castoffs whom had lost 10 out of their last 12 Octagon bouts is not a recipe for success.

Bellator claims to be different from the UFC. If they ever wanted to be taken seriously in the PPV market, they’re going to have to stop putting Dana White’s old news in their current headlines.