The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the reigning king of MMA promotions and has been in that position for a while. Many promotions tried hard to challenge the UFC’s dominance in the sport. Though none have succeeded so far.
Bellator’s steady rise over the last few years gives it a great opportunity to become an adversary who could give the UFC a run for its money.
UFC is a giant. Its sheer roster size, division and elite talent are unmatched in the MMA world. The promotion commands big bucks from sponsors and has carved itself a big market in the pay-per-view segment.
On the other hand, Bellator is still a niche fighting promotion. Their roster is small though they have good fighters. And their divisions are limited. Occasionally, they sign someone away from the UFC.
But ask any aspiring fighter where he wants to be and almost all of them will say ‘UFC’.
If Bellator steps up to become a bigger rival to the UFC, it will be good for the fighters and the sport. They are already the second-best fighting league. But the distance between the two is significant.
Recently, Bellator signed a big deal with DAZN, a subscription video streaming service. The new deal will help the promotion get more audience and also give it more spending power to improve its fighter roster.
In addition, Bellator’s boss Scott Coker has taken a keen interest in penetrating markets that the UFC can’t or won’t touch. Setting up franchises in such places give Bellator a boost in viewership and a chance to strike hard at UFC’s long roster. Coker’s strategy is not only surviving UFC’s counter-programming but also beating the promotion into withdrawing some announced fights. So things are looking up for Bellator.