Bellator Fighting Championships is kicking off their first SPIKE fight card with two title fights, featuring some of their most recognizable talents.
MMA Weekly reports that Bellator officials have ironed out the details for their first event of their eighth season, which is getting a shift in schedule.
Instead of Jan. 10 as previously reported, Bellator 85 will take place on Thursday, Jan. 17.
Highlights on the card include two championship bouts, with the promotion's featherweight champion opening the broadcast in his first title defense. Here's the confirmed matches for the event so far:
• Lightweight Title: Michael Chandler (Champion) vs. Rick Hawn
• Renato "Babalu" Sobral vs. Mikhail Zayats
• Featherweight Title: Pat Curran (Champion) vs. Patricio "Pitbull"
Moreover, Thursdays will be the new standard night for Bellator's SPIKE broadcasts. Now that Bellator is moving to SPIKE, the promotion is distancing itself from Friday nights, which have proven to be a poor timeslot for ratings.
Additionally, Bellator also hopes to draw in viewers with TNA Impact Wrestling as their lead-in show. TNA Impact Wrestling airs from 8-10 p.m. ET, with Bellator picking up right afterwards to complete a four-hour programming block.
Bellator's previously run all of their other seasons on MTV2 and Bellator.com due to a contract obligation with the UFC that prevented SPIKE from airing other mixed martial arts content.
Using pro wrestling as a lead-in to MMA programming is similar to a successful tactic that The Ultimate Fighter used when it followed WWE RAW back in 2005.