On Friday night Bellator announced that UFC hall-of-famers Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar will fight in the main event of Bellator 131 on November 15th.
That will set them on a collision course with UFC 180, the UFC’s first ever event in Mexico that same night on pay-per-view headlined by a heavyweight title fight between TUF: Mexico coaches Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum.
Bellator certainly got people talking about their main event at the weekend when Ortiz and Bonnar appeared in the cage at the promotion’s season 11 premiere to promote their upcoming fight.
It was a bizarre spectacle that seemed more like a pro-wrestling skit than a serious MMA fight announcement, with a baffling and wholly unnecessary ‘unmasking’ of Ortiz’s former training partner Justin McCully by Bonnar being followed by a shoving match that resulted in the three men quickly being separated.
McCully later admitted on Facebook that Bonnar had pre-written his speech, while it had been his idea to wear the mask.
It definitely wasn’t Bellator’s finest hour, but with Scott Coker now the president and looking to steer the promotion in a different direction it appears they are now willing to do whatever it takes to get people talking, and while it may strain their credibility, there’s no doubt that everyone is now aware of the Ortiz Vs Bonnar match-up.
That publicity will be important for Bellator given that they are looking to take on the UFC’s upcoming pay-per-view show. This event is a big deal for Zuffa as they’ve been yearning to break into the Mexican market for years and will also be welcoming back Velasquez after another long injury layoff, so we can expect a big media push for this one.
With that in mind, perhaps in hindsight Dana White will now be ruing his decision to give Bonnar his blessing to fight for the promotion’s biggest rivals.
Of course White will no doubt laugh off the idea that Bellator are somehow competition for the UFC on November 15th, but the reality is that putting a pay-per-view up against a show that will air for free on Spike TV featuring a couple of well known fighters from the UFC’s recent past isn’t great for business, particularly at a time when their PPV numbers have been dwindling.
It’s not a huge blow by any means, but it is an annoyance and the fact that the promotion shifted their UFC Fight Night 50 main card around at the last minute this past weekend to avoid a clash with Bellator 123 proves that they are paying attention to what’s happening over at Spike TV.
Below you can take a look at the main card fights so far announced for both shows.
Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum
Jake Ellenberger vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Norman Parke vs. Diego Sanchez
Dennis Bermudez vs. Ricardo Lamas
Marcus Brimage vs. Erik Perez
Tito Ortiz Vs Stephan Bonnar
Michael Chandler Vs Will Brooks (Lightweight Title Fight)
Others fights TBC