Eddie Alvarez and Bjorn Rebney. Pic by SHERDOG.COM -click for source- Credit: Dave Mandel

Not only has Bellator’s Season 9 ended, but so has a big year for the arguably number two promotion. For the occasion I thought I’d review their most successful year to date.

Bellator moves to Spike

Bellator has jumped around from network to network since it’s inception in 2008. Its first season was on ESPN Deportes, then seasons two and three were on Fox Sports Net, then seasons four to seven were on MTV. During the time on those networks, the days and times varied depending on the network’s programming and the availability of the network on cable.

It was only when Spike’s right to the UFC library ended that Bellator finally enjoyed decent ratings and exposure. It also enjoyed record high ratings when Bellator 106 was salvaged from a PPV to the promotions most watched event ever at 1.1 million views.

Bellator finds the right sized tournaments

Bellator has been struggling to find the right number of tournaments to run per season. Four per season didn’t seem to be enough but five per season seemed to be too many. Also the summer series seemed to be a little dull with just one long tournament.

To solve the latter problem, Bellator ran three 4 man tournaments during the 2013 summer series for weight classes that lacked depth. In order to solve the former problem, two more four man tournaments were ran during season nine along with the traditional four 8 man tournaments, solving the depth problem.

Bellator aggressively signs free agents

With the closing of Strikeforce and several other fighters joining the free agent market from the UFC, Bellator was able to grab some big names to add to their roster. This included the likes of former UFC Light Heavyweight Champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Tito Ortiz, TUF Winners Kendall Grove and Efrain Escudero, and UFC vets Vladimir Matsushenko and Houston Alexander.

That doesn’t even include the signings of rising stars such as Bubba Jenkins. In addition there were promotional stars established such as Emmanuel Newton and the resigning of Eddie Alvarez to the promotion. Then we also saw King Mo Lawal signed straight out of Strikeforce, all of which augmented the roster.

Bellator enters reality show picture

In addition to promotional highlight shows to help promote upcoming fights, a few reality shows debuted this year as well. The entertaining Rampage 4 Real showed us Jackson’s fight camp in preparation for his fight with Tito Ortiz and then his rebound for his fight with Joey Beltran.

Then we saw Spike’s efforts to create a reality show to compete with The Ultimate Fighter in Fight Master. It went on to differentiate itself from TUF by changing the format slightly with the emphasis on the fighters choice rather then the coaches choice. We can also expect to see Randy Couture in his own show called Gym Rescue in which he helps struggling MMA gyms.

~ Closing Overview ~

Overall Bellator experienced success as a promotion and we can only hope to see more out of them this next year.

What did you think of this year for Bellator MMA? Leave us a comment!