Disaster has struck Bellator’s first ever pay-per-view event as headliner Tito Ortiz has pulled out just a week out from the show due to fractured neck.
As a result they’ve had to make the tough decision to pull the plug on their PPV plans altogether, and while that’s bad news for them, it’s good news for fans as it now means that the event will air for free on Spike TV instead.
With Ortiz out, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson won’t feature on the card either, so the original co-main event, a lightweight title encounter between Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez now takes on headline duties.
Meanwhile, the co-main event now goes to Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal who fights Emanual Newton for the interim 205lb belt alongside a featherweight title bout between Pat Curran and Daniel Strauss.
While it lacks glamour without the two former UFC light-heavyweight champions, it’s still a stacked card by Bellator’s standards so if there’s a silver lining here, perhaps it’s that this event might deliver stronger ratings than usual for them.
On the other hand, having to abort their PPV plans at this late stage is a massive blow after the time and money they’ve invested in the project, not to mention the fact that they’ve held back a number of big bouts and fighters specifically for this occasion.
Needless to say, UFC president Dana White wasn’t exactly in tears at the news, and he couldn’t resist taking a pop at both Bellator and Tito Ortiz, stating on Twitter, “Oh boy KARMA is a BITCH.”
White also suggested that this was actually a good result for Bellator given the lack of interest in the event, telling one fan that, “They sold 12 tickets for this fight. This was the best thing that could have happened to them.”
Of course he’s exaggerating, but word did emerge last week that they’d sold less then a couple of thousand tickets for the event despite the arena having the capacity to seat 13,500 so he may well have a point.
However, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney today claimed that they do still plan on holding a pay-per-view event in the future, but at this stage it’s probably worth taking that statement with a pinch of salt.
If Ortiz had a relatively minor injury then perhaps they could have simply rescheduled the headline bout, but given that he’s got a fractured neck and has a history of similar issues, it’s going to be a long time before he’s ready to compete again, if ever.
As for ‘Rampage’, Rebney indicated that their intention is to get him another fight as soon as possible.
So, all in all Bellator’s dreams of holding a pay-per-view show have turned into a a nightmare, but at least fans can still see the event on free-TV, and perhaps that’s where it where it should have been all along.