Some big announcements surrounding the future of Bellator have been made in the last 24 hours.
The first was a report Wednesday night from The Hollywood Reporter stating that Bellator’s television home, Spike TV, will be going under a rebranding as The Paramount Network by early 2018. Spike is owned by Viacom, Bellator’s parent company.
The news quickly started speculation as to what place Bellator might have on the new network, as it wasn’t mentioned in the initial report. Spike TV has long been a cable network that targeted the young male demographic, particularly at its launch in 2003 after transitioning from The Nashville Network to The National Network. Early Spike marketing included the tagline, “The first network for men.”
Spike was instrumental in the growth of UFC from 2005-2011 as its TV home, but when UFC left for Fox in late 2011, Viacom went on to purchase Bellator to fill the massive MMA gap UFC left in its programming.
With The Paramount Network looking to focus on synergizing with the Paramount movie studio, Bellator’s place on the channel seemed to be in question, but reports emerging today indicate Bellator will remain on the rebranded network with MMA Fighting reporting that Bellator will remain as much of a priority on the new network as it was on Spike.
The Paramount Network’s “focus will be on building distinctive, high-quality scripted and non-scripted original programming – with dramas, comedies, documentaries, movies, sports and tentpole events. It will also incorporate third-party programming, as well as films from other studio’s libraries,” according to the internal memo obtained by Deadline.com.
Bellator made some announcements for the more immediate future as well. Most notable being Rory MacDonald’s first fight for the promotion. After calling MacDonald out after a big win last month, Paul Daley will get his wish and meet MacDonald at Bellator 179 from London on May 19.
MacDonald signed with the promotion last summer, but has needed time to recover from a recurring broken nose.
Also announced was a Bantamweight Championship fight between champ Eduardo Dantas and Darrion Caldwell for Bellator 177 on April 14 from Budapest, Hungary. Dantas is currently the #9 ranked bantamweight on MMATorch.com’s staff rankings and is a two-time Bellator Bantamweight Champion, having most recently defended against former titleholder, Joe Warren.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: The rebranding from Spike to Paramount is an interesting move that should have pro-wrestling fans more worried than MMA fans. It looks like Viacom is looking to make the channel into more of a prestige network and it says a lot about how they view MMA if they truly want to keep it as a featured part of the channel. Spike had aired pro-wrestling on the channel for many years but has shied away from it recently. The rebranding pretty much closes the door for pro-wrestling of any kind finding a home on Paramount as I doubt it will fit the new image they are looking for.
I like the Daley-MacDonald fight a lot. MacDonald doesn’t always have the most exciting fights, but when he’s matched up against the right kind of fighter, like Robbie Lawler, he can have some of the most entertaining fights imaginable. Daley can hopefully bring a good fight out of MacDonald and it’s a good test for both fighters. I would normally heavily favor MacDonald in this fight, but MacDonald hasn’t been very active the last two years, while Daley has been so that may level the playing field a bit. Also, there has been a trend lately of former UFC fighters coming over to Bellator and not looking their best in their first outing.
Eduardo Dantas is a very good bantamweight who often flies under the radar, and it looks like that will continue as the Budapest show isn’t going to be one of Bellator’s more heavily promoted events.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Yoel Romero has started a Go Fund Me page to help Michael Bisping “rebuild his life” after they fight. Bisping vs. Romero hasn’t been officially announced, but Romero did quote a date of May 2017 for their potential fight. The page has raised $215 since opening on Wednesday.
-Tim Boetsch told MMA Fighting on Wednesday that his fight with Jacare Souza this weekend is the last fight on his UFC contract.
-Invicta announced the following fights for their March 25 event from Kansas City headlined by a rematch between Bantamweight Champion Tonya Evinger and Yana Kunitskaya.
- Jodie Esquibel vs DeAnna Bennett
- Sunna Rannveig Davidsdottir vs. Mallory Martin
- Kal Holliday takes on Miranda Maverick
Holly Holm vs. Marion Reneau from July of 2015: CLICK HERE
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S ARTICLE: WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE 2/8: Strong ratings for UFC Fight Night on FS1 headlined by Korean Zombie’s return (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)