On November 2nd, Bellator MMA will take the biggest risk in its promotional history, as it makes the crossover from solid TV product to pay-per-view. Since its inception, Bellator has always been eager to make it clear that it is not the UFC, nor is it the place for UFC rejects to come and fight, but for its pay-per-view debut, the decisionmakers behind the scenes have decided to put two former UFC champions making their promotional debuts in the main event, and this hasn’t proved popular with the fans.
As of right now, the promotion has only managed to sell a paltry 1,700 tickets for a venue that holds well over 10,000, and unfortunately for Bellator, their matchups have really failed to capture the imagination of even the most hardcore of fans. With dwindling ticket sales and a backlash from fans relating to Bjorn Rebney’s handling of the Eddie Alvarez contract crisis, the question needs to be asked: Is Bellator’s PPV turning into a Money Pit?
Firstly, it needs to be made clear that even at the best of times it’s very hard for an MMA promotion to make big money. A lot of media commentators seem to rattle on about how low fighter pay is, but I believe Bellator 102 proved just how risky having a high-paid fighter on the card can be. Cheick Kongo, who debuted for the organisation against Mark Goodbeer, was paid $65,000, which at a distance looks like a fair pay rate for a 7-year UFC veteran, but when you look closer, you see just how bad an investment it proved to be.
For Bellator 102 the total gate was a little over $73,000, and the attendance was just over 1,400, with almost half of the attendees being comped, so when you look at the numbers it’s clear just how disastrous of a decision it was for Bellator to sign a big name UFC reject for big money. It would seem as a headliner Kongo has very little drawing power, and he truly doesn’t provide bang for the buck when it comes to selling a fight.