Bellator suffered a major setback at the weekend with lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez pulling out of his main event trilogy fight with Michael Chandler, but the promotion has vowed that the show must go on.
It’s been confirmed that the event will remain on pay-per-view, with former champ Chandler now taking Season 9 tournament winner Will Brooks.
However, the fight will drop to the co-main event spot, with a light-heavyweight tournament final between Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal now taking on headline duties.
The event also features Tito Ortiz’s Bellator debut in a 205lb clash with middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko.
“It’s remaining on pay-per-view because it’s a pay-per-view worthy card,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “It’s a must-see card. It’s a premium level event and it’s going to remain on pay-per-view. There was never a question or a hesitation to keep this level event on pay-per-view. We had an utterly spectacular show, and now we’ve got a spectacular show. I could not be happier about it staying right where it is.”
Having already made the decision to cancel one PPV show last year due to an injury to headliner Tito Ortiz, it’s likely that both Bellator and their backers Viacom were extremely reluctant to pull the plug on another attempt to hold their debut event.
It’s far from an ideal situation. As we noted yesterday, there will now be the perception that the card is ‘damaged goods’, but in all fairness it is still a good card by Bellator’s standards.
Whether a good but weakened Bellator card in the midst of an already overly-saturated MMA fight schedule can shift a respectable number of pay-per-views is certainly up for debate though.
The best that they can hope for now is that ‘Rampage’ and ‘King Mo’, two men who’re never short of something to say, bring their A-Game to the pre-fight promotional hype this week in the lead-up to the event in order to regenerate enthusiasm for the show.