Bellator has been rising in popularity for the last year. However, they are sadly no where near UFC in terms of popularity and especially financially. UFC has some of the biggest MMA stars in the world, but the cool thing they are doing is making new stars. While all of the fighters are excellent at their job, otherwise they would not be with the promotion, UFC helps to brand them and make them major names. So naturally you have to really do some interesting material to make people think or turn over to see what you’re doing.
This past Friday, we saw the Season Premiere of Bellator on Spike TV. The show saw the return of MMA star King Mo as well as the Bellator Debut of TNA World Champion Bobby Lashley. Lashley and Mo both won their fight. Shocking right?
The real shock was not the win of two stars, but rather the middle of the card when former UFC stars Stephan Bonner and Tito Ortiz came out. New Bellator front man Scott Coker, formerly of Strikeforce, announced that the two would face off against the other in November at the end of the season for Bellator. The fight will happen live on Spike TV, so a lot of fans had interest from the beginning.
However, it seems that Bellator took things to an interestingly level. As you can see from the video above, Bonner was not shy about taking shots at Tito and his family as well as his character. He spoke a bit about his ability in the Octagon, but very little. The two got into a “fight” of which they had to be separated to end the segment. I say segment, because that is what this was.
Most believe that the two were acting the entire time. Keep in mind, Ortiz knows all about that world and he also knows of Pro-Wrestling. He appeared with TNA Wrestling last year as he was setting up to take on Rampage Jackson, who also worked with TNA. Weird right?
Bonner has been known as a trash talker for some time, so it is not a shock that he’d take shots at Ortiz. No one is disputing that he would take a shot or two. However, the elaborate altercation he found himself in was strange. It was as if Bonner was the heel while Ortiz played the lovable face character. Heel being bad guy and face being good.
It seems like before, Bellator has shown that they need to do things to set themselves apart from other places, but this seems odd. It is said that MMA promotions in Japan are not real by people such as Chael Sonnon. Japanese wrestling however looks so real that many do not know the difference between real and fake. They blur the lines. Japan is known for doing this well, so the idea that another promotion could do this same is not far-fetched.
While we can all agree that MMA is a sport and not usually planned, it is odd that the entire Bellator event seemed like one big television show and not an “event” if you will. From having scrubs seemingly take on Mo and Lashley to the segment with Bonner and Ortiz, Bellator may be trying to mix in a lot of real with some story. It is not the first time that we have seen an MMA promotion try to make things interesting story wise. Chael Sonnon has told people before that he does what he does for shock value and TV.
So was the segment with Bonner and Ortiz all planned for TV to gain interest? Or will the fight also end with Ortiz winning a “hard-fought” battle to get revenge? While Ortiz could always win for real, it just seems like Bellator is trying their best to be entertainment instead of sport. Why? Maybe they realize competing with UFC is too difficult and they need to take things out of the WWE playbook and make things look real when in reality it’s all a story.
The question comes down to now, is all of Bellator trying to be sports entertainment or is it just the segments or marketing for it? Clearly we can tell when we’re seeing something that had to be written and involve all men. So Bellator has fooled no one with their segment with Bonner and Ortiz. I guess now we have to wait and see if the fights look a bit too good to be true, if you will.
[IMG Credits: Fansided, Bleacher Report]