Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney had high expectations for Bellator 88. After all, the live card featured his organization’s middleweight title fight, which included former UFC fighter Miguel Falcao.
Ratings, however, were a disappointment and averaged a mere 807,000 viewers. According to industry sources, that is the fewest number of viewers to tune in for any of the organization’s four title fights shown on Spike TV.
More devastating than the ratings was the media’s lack of interest in the post fight press conference. Rebney was forced to fill the 30-minute event by continually pointing out how great his fighters are. The press conference crowd was unresponsive to Rebney’s assertions, as only four attendees had questions for the fighters.
Thursday’s failure comes on the heels of Rebney’s announcement of his plans to promote a pay-per-view event.
On Wednesday, Rebney told mmajunkie.com his intention to have Michael Chandler defend his lightweight belt against Eddie Alvarez on pay-per-view. This is assuming Bellator wins their lawsuit against Alvarez and maintains its rights to him.
“It’s the best fight I’ve ever seen live,” Rebney stated about the first Alvarez-Chandler fight. ”I think a rematch of that fight would be epic.”
While a rematch would certainly be entertaining, it would be a huge disappointment on pay-per-view .
At this point, Chandler is Bellator’s biggest draw. When featured on a stacked Bellator 85 card with big names and two title fights, Chandler fell significantly short of drawing 1 million viewers. To put that in perspective, Chandler’s title fight had fewer than half the viewers of the UFC 156 preliminary fights aired on the FX network.
Rebney is a promoter and it is certainly part of his job to over-hype his brand. For now, however, Rebney may want to scrap the pay-per-view talk since his promotion’s top draw is unable to even compete with preliminary fights of other MMA organizations.