With less than 30 days remaining until their second season premiere, Bellator Fighting Championships is already being rumored by many to ascend into the upper echelon of MMA companies this year along with the likes of the UFC and Strikeforce.
Bellator's first season can be somewhat considered an overnight hit, but don't mistaken it for a one-hit wonder. Fueling their second season with expectations as high as they come, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and company are quickly escalating into the category of contenders for companies like the UFC.
One of the main problems Bellator faced in their first season was mainstream exposure. ESPN Deportes was supplying the only airtime for Bellator, and the broadcast was in Spanish. As many great CEOs understand, adapting to one's environment is key in today's economic climate, and Bellator's founder was no different.
In recent months, Rebney has struck deals with major companies such as Telemundo (to keep the Spanish telecast) and NBC along with Fox Sports Network and Comcast Sports Network. Now that exposure is no longer an issue for Rebney, he can focus on the quality of the fights, which was not a problem for Bellator last year.
One question mark that remains is how fans of the sport will react to another company being aired weekly on television. Bellator is taking over the prime time spot on Saturday night that was previously held by Strikeforce and it remains to be seen if they can put up comparable numbers.
The fighters from last season that garnered the attention of fans won't be participating immediately in the second season, however fans can expect to see mainstays such as Hector Lombard, Lyman Good, and Eddie Alvarez at some point within the next two seasons.
With a new season comes new blood, and Bellator is known for it's young gunners taking center stage and running with it.
Last year, Bellator's Toby Imada won "Submission of the Year" with his highly publicized inverted triangle choke over Jorge Masvidal and the consensus knockout of the year was Yahir Reyes' spinning backfist knockout on Estevan Payan. If Bellator can harness some of that fighting with its increased exposure, expect yet another big leap for Bellator heading into next year.
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