"FOX reached out to us and started these conversations months ago about the potential of developing this deal," Rebney told MMAjunkie.com.
The promotion on Tuesday announced a partnership with FOX Sports Latin America that covers 50 million homes in 19 Latin American countries, including Brazil. The deal calls for taped programming through 2014 and 25 live "in-territory" events annually starting in 2015.
The news came as something of a surprise given the UFC's relationship with FOX, which is in the second year of a seven-year broadcast deal with the promotion. The UFC is one of seven "pillars" of sports programming on the new FOX Sports 1 cable network, which airs its live events and shoulder programming.
In Latin America, the UFC is partnered in Brazil with Globo and in Mexico (and other territories) with Televisa. Yet the new alliance between Bellator and FOX came as a surprise to one of the Viacom-owned promotion's most vocal critics, UFC President Dana White, who on Tuesday told MMAjunkie.com he would look into how the partnership came about in spite of the Las Vegas-based UFC's prominent role with FOX.
For Rebney, though, the answer is simple.
"You'd have to assume, given their size and the magnitude of FOX's deal with the UFC here domestically, that if they wanted an alliance in those international markets, I'm sure those doors were open to them," he said. "But we were able to make it work."
The executive said the partnership came to fruition through a longstanding contact from Bellator's days on FOX Sports Net, which broadcast the tournament-based promotion's second season.
"I had a lot of allies and friends over there, and months ago, one of them reached out to me and said, 'Bjorn, I've taken this all the way up the totem pole, and we would be very interested in sitting down with you,'" he said.
With existing TV deals, Bellator is seen in over 135 countries, but Rebney said the partnership with FOX Latin America significantly increases the promotion's profile in Brazil, which he calls the No. 2 international market in MMA.
Bellator programming on TV Esporte Interativo, the promotion's current TV partner in Brazil, draws north of 2 million viewers per show, Rebney said.
But that could increase with live event programming, which he said kicks in when the TV Esporte Interativo loses the rights to live shows in 2015. He said there are no concrete plans as to when and where the events broadcast on FOX Latin America will be held.
"Maybe we'll kick off a season down there so we get the necessary prep time," he said. "Maybe we'll do that 'Road to the Championship' week before and after there. Maybe we'll do the 'Summer Series' down there, or create unique standalone sequencing of events over a three- to four-week [period] where we hit major markets in a collection of three or four different countries. We're still working through the logistics now."
Clearly, though, Bellator is making headway under unique circumstances.
"[The new deal] sends a message that FOX has made a decision to work with Bellator in this incredibly important region, and from a Bellator-centric perspective, that's a spectacular message," Rebney said.