This weekend, the UFC and Bellator will each hold events on Saturday, meaning the promotions will be going head-to-head for the first time in 2019. The UFC and Bellator have gone head-to-head before, including a couple instances in 2018, but in general it’s pretty rare for this to happen. Ultimately, the decision to hold two major MMA events the same night is something that only hurts the fans, who now have to toggle between two events that they otherwise may have watched in full.
For hardcore MMA fans, this isn’t ideal. Hardcore fans want to watch all the big fights, and the UFC’s card this Saturday in Sunrise, Florida is a pretty big UFC on ESPN+ card (remember, this was supposed to be a card on big ESPN before injuries shifted it to ESPN+). Likewise, the Bellator 220 event in San Jose, California is one of the promotion’s tentpole events. Yes, it’s true that scheduling and timing issues aren’t always ideal, but there’s 52 weekends in a year, and there’s no reason the UFC and Bellator had to put two of their major events on the same night. If anything, this seems like something that is going to hurt Bellator even more, as the UFC will get its viewers regardless.
Back on April 6 there was no UFC or Bellator event, and there’s no Bellator or MMA event on May 25, either. Instead of holding their events on these nights, Bellator and the UFC are going head-to-head this weekend on April 27, and then again on May 11 (with UFC 237 and Bellator 221). MMA fans will be looking to do something on those off weekends, and instead of taking the opportunity to hold a show that doesn’t have any competition, the UFC and Bellator decided to go head-to-head. It doesn’t seem like an ideal situation for the fans, to say the least.
Fans are now forced to pick between one event or the other, or take in bits and pieces of each card. With the UFC’s event now on ESPN+ and Bellator’s event on DAZN, it makes switching back and forth that much more difficult. You can’t just switch the channel now, you have to open and close two different apps and hope they load up quick. Going head-to-head just doesn’t seem like something that’s good for the fans, and I’m not sure it’s beneficial for the promotions, either. There just seems to be a lot of downside to this, and not much upside. Again, things aren’t always perfect and sometimes venues and dates are only available at certain times, but the fact the UFC and Bellator are going head-to-head twice in the next month is troublesome.
Hopefully, this is just an anomaly in the fight schedule and not the start of a trend towards two major MMA events in one night. As someone who tries to watch every major fight he can, this weekend is going to be difficult to watch both cards as UFC takes precedence for me due to my job, and Bellator will be playing second fiddle. I’ll try and watch the replay, but most likely I’ll see the spoilers for the fights on social media and not be as interested in watching the replays. I know there are plenty of others in a similar spot. It’s just not an ideal situation, especially when MMA is a sport that caters to hardcore audiences, anyways. Hopefully the UFC and Bellator can figure out ways so going head-to-head doesn’t happen in the future, but with both promotions holding more and more events, this could soon become something more common than any of us want.