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Bellator MMA (formally Bellator Fighting Championships) is an American mixed martial arts promotion founded in 2008 and based in Santa Monica, California that is owned and operated as a subsidiary of ViacomCBS. It is one of the largest combat sport promotions in the world and the second largest in the United States. The promotion takes its name from bellātor, the Latin word for "warrior".
|Industry||Mixed martial arts promotion|
|Scott Coker (President)|
Bellator's first event was held in 2009, and the promotion has since held 236 "numbered" events as of December 2019. The promotion features notable talents such as Michael Chandler, Ryan Bader, Gegard Mousasi, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Paul Daley, Lyoto Machida, Patrício "Pitbull" Freire, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Michael "Venom" Page, Douglas Lima, and Cris Cyborg, among others.
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Bellator was founded in 2008 by Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. Under Rebney's ownership, Bellator was marketed as "the Toughest Tournament in Sports", which was a single-elimination format that awarded the winner of each eight-person or four-person tournament a check for $100,000 and a guaranteed world-title fight against the current Bellator world champion in the applicable weight class.
- Sept. 2008 – Bellator was founded by Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney.
- Nov. 2008 – Bellator announces broadcast agreement with ESPN Deportes. Bellator becomes the first promoter to secure live MMA programming on any domestic platform on the ESPN family of networks.
- April 2009- Bellator 1 debuts on ESPN Deportes from Hollywood, Florida's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
- May 2009- Toby Imada pulls off incredible inverted triangle submission choke over Jorge Masvidal, creating a viral sensation on YouTube collecting over 1.5 million views.
- July 2009- Sports Illustrated calls Bellator "MMA's success story of the year".
- Oct. 2009- Bellator announces large-scale agreement with Fox Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo for Bellator's Season 2 & 3.
- April 2010- Bellator Season 2 debuts on Fox Sports Net from Hollywood, Florida'a Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
- Dec. 2010- Bellator announces English language exclusive broadcast with MTV2, beginning in 2011.
- Mar. 2011- Bellator Season 4 debuts on MTV 2.
- Oct. 2011- Viacom purchases majority stake in Bellator and announces Bellator will move to Spike.
- Nov. 2011- Nov. 19th Michael Chandler & Eddie Alvarez compete in the Lightweight World Title fight that is widely considered 2011's Fight of the Year.
- Aug. 2012- Bellator moves corporate offices from Chicago, IL to Newport Beach, CA.
- Jan. 2013- Bellator begins airing original shoulder programming including "Bellator 360".
- Jan. 2013- Bellator Season 8 premieres Jan. 17 on Spike to over 1.2 million viewers.
- Feb. 2013- Bjorn Rebney and Spike President Kevin Kay jointly announce a new Bellator reality show, "Bellator MMA Fight Master".
- Sept. 2013–Bellator 100 takes place from Phoenix's Grand Canyon University.
- Sept. 2013- Bellator signs multi-year partnership agreement with Fox Sports Latin America giving Bellator the largest MMA distribution deal in Latin America MMA history.
- Nov. 2013- Nov. 2nd Chandler vs. Alvarez II delivers 1.4 million viewers on Spike TV and becomes the highest rated MMA TV show on cable during the fall of 2013.
- May 2014- Promotion held its first international event in Rama, Canada.
- May 2014- Bellator's inaugural pay-per-view from the Landers Center at Bellator 120.
- June 2014- Company announces that both Chairman/CEO Bjorn Rebney and President Tim Danaher have left the company.
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Unlike most MMA promotions, Bellator events were originally organized as part of larger tournaments. Bellator included weight classes from bantamweight (135 pounds) through heavyweight (265 pounds) and tournaments in each weight class were conducted over a three-month period. Each tournament began with the opening round featuring eight fighters in that respective weight class, moved onto the semi-finals and then the finals. For four-man tournaments, only the semi-finals and finals were included. Each tournament was single elimination and there was a one-month break between opening round, semi-finals and finals.
During the tournament, the rules were slightly different from those of a non-tournament fight. Elbow strikes were illegal in the quarterfinal and semifinal tournament bouts due to the high probability of a cut occurring. Elbow strikes were legal in the finals. The tournament final was still three five-minute rounds, since it was not a title fight.
Bellator partnered with Rizin Fighting Federation for the Rizin Fighting World Grand Priz event held on December 29 and 31 2015, sharing King Mo Lawal for the Rizin FF Tournament. The former Pride FC Heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko headlined the NYE Rizin FF main event.
in 2015, Bellator President Scott Coker made the decision to drop the 8-man tournament format in favor of smaller tournaments.
Since the fourth season in 2011, Bellator cards have been predominantly broadcast on Viacom-owned networks; originally on MTV2, then moving to Paramount Network (then known as Spike) in 2013 following the end of the latter channel's contract with the UFC.
On June 26, 2018, Bellator announced a five-year streaming deal with DAZN, covering the U.S. and other markets served by the sports-oriented streaming service. Since Bellator 206, this includes all events aired by Paramount Network, as well as seven exclusive cards per-year.
Bellator president Scott Coker has expressed hope that Bellator will eventually branch out to broadcast television, a possibility given Viacom's merger with CBS Corporation in 2019. However, he is reluctant to discuss it further until such terms have been finalized.
At a press conference held on February 5, 2013, Bellator and Spike announced the launch of a new reality competition series titled Fight Master: Bellator MMA. The coaches and trainers for the series, which will feature 32 welterweight fighters, will be Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock, Greg Jackson, and Joe Warren. The 32 fighters competed for a spot in Bellator's fall welterweight tournament, culminating in a live season finale. The series premiered on Spike on June 19, 2013 and ran for a single season.
Bellator Fighting Championships: Season One (April 3, 2009 – June 19, 2009)
During Bellator's first season, events were broadcast nationally on ESPN Deportes in the United States. Bellator 1 took place on April 3, 2009 and like many events that season, aired via tape delay. Tournaments took place in the middleweight, welterweight, lightweight and featherweight divisions with the winners becoming the inaugural Bellator World Champions in their specific weight class. Hector Lombard defeated Jared Hess in the finals of the middleweight tournament to become the 185 lbs. Champion while Lyman Good defeated Omar De La Cruz to secure the Bellator Welterweight Title. In addition, Eddie Alvarez defeated Toby Imada to win the Bellator Lightweight Belt while Joe Soto defeated Yahir Reyes to become the Bellator Featherweight Champion. Color commentary for Bellator's first season was provided by Jon Anik and Jason Chambers.
|Middleweight||Hector Lombard||Jared Hess||Bellator 12|
|Welterweight||Lyman Good||Omar De La Cruz||Bellator 11|
|Lightweight||Eddie Alvarez||Toby Imada||Bellator 12|
|Featherweight||Joe Soto||Yahir Reyes||Bellator 10|
Bellator Fighting Championships: Season Two (April 8, 2010 – June 24, 2010)
For Bellator's second season, events aired nationally on FOX Sports Net in the United States. Season two debuted on April 8, 2010 and like season one, hosted tournaments in the middleweight, welterweight, lightweight and featherweight divisions. Alexander Shlemenko defeated Bryan Baker (fighter) to become the Middleweight Tournament Champion while Ben Askren defeated Dan Hornbuckle to win the 170 lb tournament. Also, Pat Curran defeated Toby Imada to win the lightweight tournament and Joe Warren (fighter) defeated Patricio Pitbull to become the Featherweight Tournament Champion. Season two tournament champions were awarded a check for $100,000 and a title shot against the Season 1 Champions. In addition to the tournament fights, season two was the first season to host non-tournament, non-title super fights for current champions. Three of Bellator's four champions competed in super fights during Season 2. Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard scored the fastest knockout in Bellator history when he defeated Jay Silva in a catch weight bout at Bellator 18. Also, Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez submitted Josh Neer in a catch weight bout at Bellator 17 and Joe Soto scored a technical knockout victory over Diego Saraiva in a featherweight bout at Bellator 19. Welterweight Champion Lyman Good was the only champion to not participate in a season two non-title super fight. Bellator also introduced the new commentary team of Jimmy Smith and Sean Wheelock during Season 2.
|Middleweight||Alexander Shlemenko||Bryan Baker||Bellator 23|
|Welterweight||Ben Askren||Dan Hornbuckle||Bellator 22|
|Lightweight||Pat Curran||Toby Imada||Bellator 21|
|Featherweight||Joe Warren||Patricio Freire||Bellator 23|
Bellator Fighting Championships: Season Three (August 12, 2010 – October 28, 2010)
Bellator kicked off its third season on August 12, 2010 with tournaments in the bantamweight, heavyweight, and women's divisions. Zach Makovsky defeated Ed West at Bellator 32 to win the 135 lb tournament and become the promotions first ever Bellator Bantamweight Champion. Also that same evening, Cole Konrad submitted Neil Grove to win the heavyweight tournament and become the first Heavyweight Champion in Bellator history. Zoila Gurgel became the first Bellator Women's Champion when she defeated Megumi Fujii at Bellator 34. The first official title defense took place between defending Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Soto and Season 2 Tournament Champion Joe Warren at Bellator 27. Warren defeated Soto by TKO to become the new Bellator Featherweight Champion. Other championship fights featured during season 3 were Hector Lombard retaining his Bellator middleweight championship by defeating Season 2 Tournament Winner, Alexander Shlemenko and Season 2 Welterweight Tournament Champion, Ben Askren, defeating reigning champion Lyman Good to become the new Bellator Welterweight Champion. Some of the memorable moments from Bellator's Season three are Eddie Alvarez's third-round TKO victory over UFC veteran Roger Huerta in a non-title match and Bellator Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard's 38 second knockout of Herbert Goodman at Bellator 24.
|Heavyweight||Cole Konrad||Neil Grove||Bellator 32|
|Bantamweight||Zach Makovsky||Ed West||Bellator 32|
|Women's Strawweight (115 lbs.)||Zoila Gurgel||Megumi Fujii||Bellator 34|
Season Four – The MTV2 PartnershipEdit
Bellator Fighting Championships: Season Four (March 5, 2011 – May 21, 2011)
Season Four of Bellator began broadcasting nationally on March 5, 2011 and marked the promotions departure from FOX Sports Net to MTV2. Season 4 showcased tournaments in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and light heavyweight divisions. Patricio "Pitbull" defeated Daniel Mason-Straus at Bellator 45 to become the Bellator Featherweight Tournament Champion while Christian M'Pumbu defeated Richard Hale (fighter) the same night to become the first Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion in history. Also, Michael Chandler became the Bellator Season 4 Lightweight Tournament Champion when he defeated Patricky "Pitbull" at Bellator 44 while Jay Hieron booked a welterweight title shot by defeating Rick Hawn in the Bellator Welterweight Tournament Championship at Bellator 43. Some of the memorable highlights from Bellator's fourth season include Ben Saunders earning a TKO victory over Matt Lee in his Bellator debut, Richard Hale's inverted triangle choke over Nik Fekete at Bellator 38, a flying knee knockout by Patricky "Pitbull" over Toby Imada at Bellator 39 and Hector Lombard's one punch knockout of Falaniko Vitale at Bellator 44. Hale and Pitbull were, respectively, nominated for the 2011 World MMA Awards submission of the year and knockout of the year.
|Light Heavyweight||Christian M'Pumbu||Richard Hale||Bellator 45|
|Welterweight||Jay Hieron||Rick Hawn||Bellator 43|
|Lightweight||Michael Chandler||Patricky Freire||Bellator 44|
|Featherweight||Patricio Freire||Daniel Mason-Straus||Bellator 45|
Summer Series 2011Edit
Bellator Fighting Championships: 2011 Summer Series (June 25, 2011 – August 27, 2011)
In the summer of 2011, Bellator introduced the Summer Series which would feature a featherweight tournament that would decide a challenger for reigning Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren. Like Season 4, the Summer Series was broadcast nationally on MTV2. A total of three events were held during the Summer Series including Bellator 47 which took place at Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, Canada. This event marked the first time Bellator held an event outside the United States. In the featherweight tournament, Pat Curran defeated Marlon Sandro with a highlight reel head kick knockout in the finals at Bellator 48 to become the Bellator Summer Series Featherweight Tournament Champion. In addition to the featherweight tournament, Bellator also hosted a number of featured bouts, including Cole Konrad's non-title win over Paul Buentello and Seth Petruzelli securing a knockout win over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez at Bellator 48.
|Featherweight||Pat Curran||Marlon Sandro||Bellator 48|
Season Five: The Viacom EraEdit
Bellator Fighting Championships: Season Five (September 10, 2011 – November 26, 2011)
Bellator's fifth season, which began on September 10, 2011, continued to air on MTV2 in the United States as well as in HD on Epix. Bellator Tournaments for Season Five featured the bantamweight, welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight divisions. Additionally, Bellator announced that the preliminary cards for each event would air on Spike.com as well as Bellator's Facebook page. In the tournament finals, Eduardo Dantas defeated Alexis Vila at Bellator 59 to become the Bellator Bantamweight Tournament Champion while Douglas Lima knocked out Ben Saunders at Bellator 57 to become the Bellator Welterweight Tournament Champion. Also, Alexander Shlemenko defeated Vitor Vianna at Bellator 57 to become the Bellator Middleweight Tournament Champion while the heavyweight final between Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos was ruled a no contest after an accidental groin kick left Prindle unable to continue. Santos failed to make weight for a scheduled rematch causing the bout to be cancelled, and Prindle to be awarded the tournament win by default. On October 26, 2011, Viacom, the parent company of MTV Networks, announced the purchase of a majority stake in Bellator. As part of the deal, Paramount Network, then known as Spike TV, began broadcasting Bellator live in 2013. On November 7, 2011, in an effort to expand to outside markets, Bellator announced a five-year partnership with FremantleMedia that would allow the company to position itself as one of the premier MMA organizations internationally. On November 19, 2011, at Bellator 58, the company hosted what was called the best fight in the promotion's early history. Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez fought Season 4 Lightweight Tournament Champion Michael Chandler in a back-and-forth affair. In the end, Chandler defeated Alvarez via fourth round submission to become the new Bellator Lightweight Champion in a fight that several journalists called the fight of the year. Other memorable highlights from season five include Douglas Lima's knockout victory over Chris Lozano at Bellator 53, Eric Prindle's knockout win over Ron Sparks at Bellator 56, Vitor Vianna's knockout of Bryan Baker at Bellator 54 and a pair of knockout victories by Alexis Vila and Eduardo Dantas at Bellator 51.
|Heavyweight||Eric Prindle||Thiago Santos||Bellator 62|
|Middleweight||Alexander Shlemenko||Vitor Vianna||Bellator 57|
|Welterweight||Douglas Lima||Ben Saunders||Bellator 57|
|Bantamweight||Eduardo Dantas||Alexis Vila||Bellator 59|
Bellator Fighting Championships: Season Six (March 9, 2012 – August 24, 2012)
Bellator's sixth season began on March 9, 2012 with Bellator 60, when Pat Curran captured the Bellator Featherweight Championship after beating champion Joe Warren. At Bellator 64, Ben Askren defended his Welterweight title against Douglas Lima by unanimous decision. At Bellator 65, Eduardo Dantas defeated then champion Zach Makovsky to become the new Bellator Bantamweight Champion. At Bellator 70, Cole Konrad took down Eric Prindle in the first round to defend his Bellator Heavyweight Championship.
|Middleweight||Maiquel Falcão||Andreas Spang||Bellator 69|
|Welterweight||Karl Amoussou||Bryan Baker||Bellator 72|
|Lightweight||Rick Hawn||Brent Weedman||Bellator 70|
|Featherweight||Daniel Mason-Straus||Marlon Sandro||Bellator 68|
|Bantamweight||Marcos Galvao||Luis Nogueira||Bellator 73|
Summer Series 2012Edit
Bellator Fighting Championships: 2012 Summer Series (June 22, 2012 – August 24, 2012)
In the summer of 2012, Bellator held its second Summer Series which would feature a Light Heavyweight tournament that would decide a challenger for reigning Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Christian M'Pumbu. The Summer Series started June 22, 2012 and was broadcast nationally on MTV2 for a total of three events. In the Light Heavyweight tournament, Attila Vegh defeated Travis Wiuff with a knockout in the finals at Bellator 73 to become the 2012 Bellator Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament Champion. In addition to the Light Heavyweight tournament, Bellator also hosted a number of featured bouts, including a third fight between Marius Zaromskis and Waachiim Spiritwolf at Bellator 72. Bellator also finished two Season Six tournaments with Karl Amoussou defeating Bryan Baker at Bellator 72 to become the Season Six Welterweight Champion, and Marcos Galvao defeating Luis Nogueira at Bellator 73 to become the Season Six Bantamweight Champion. Pat Curran was also set to defend his Featherweight Championship versus Patricio Friere, who is the Season Four Champion, at Bellator 73 but he was forced to withdraw from the bout due to an injury that occurred during training.
|Light Heavyweight||Attila Vegh||Travis Wiuff||Bellator 73|
Bellator Fighting Championships: Season Seven (September 28, 2012 – December 14, 2012)
Bellator's seventh season began on September 28, 2012 with Bellator 74. The season showcased a heavyweight, welterweight, lightweight and featherweight tournament.
|Heavyweight||Alexander Volkov||Richard Hale||Bellator 84|
|Welterweight||Andrey Koreshkov||Lyman Good||Bellator 82|
|Lightweight||Dave Jansen||Marcin Held||Bellator 93|
|Featherweight||Shahbulat Shamhalaev||Rad Martinez||Bellator 90|
Bellator Fighting Championships: Season Eight (January 17, 2013 – April 4, 2013)
Bellator's eighth season began on January 17, 2013 at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif. The event served as Bellator's premier on Spike TV. Season Eight included featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight tournaments.
|Light Heavyweight||Emanuel Newton||Mikhail Zayats||Bellator 94|
|Middleweight||Doug Marshall||Brett Cooper|
|Welterweight||Douglas Lima||Ben Saunders||Bellator 100|
|Lightweight||David Rickels||Saad Awad||Bellator 94|
|Featherweight||Frodo Khasbulaev||Mike Richman||Bellator 95|
Summer Series 2013Edit
Bellator MMA: 2013 Summer Series (June 19, 2013 – July 31, 2013)
Bellator's 2013 Summer Series began on June 19, 2013. All three of this season's tournaments were contested as four-man tournaments, as opposed to Bellator's standard eight-man tournament. The change in tournament size was necessary in order to hold multiple tournaments during the summer series' shortened season.
|Heavyweight||Vitaly Minakov||Ryan Martinez||Bellator 97|
|Light Heavyweight||Muhammed Lawal||Jacob Noe||Bellator 97|
|Bantamweight||Rafael Silva||Anthony Leone||Bellator 102|
Bellator MMA: Season Nine (September 7, 2013 – November 22, 2013)
Bellator's Ninth season began on September 7, 2013. For this season the bantamweight and heavyweight tournaments were held as four-man tournaments, while all tournaments were the standard Bellator eight-man tournament.
|Heavyweight[a]||Cheick Kongo||Peter Graham||Bellator 107|
|Middleweight||Brennan Ward||Mikkel Parlo||Bellator 107|
|Welterweight||Rick Hawn||Ron Keslar||Bellator 109|
|Lightweight||Will Brooks||Alexander Sarnavskiy||Bellator 109|
|Featherweight||Patricio Freire||Justin Wilcox||Bellator 108|
|Bantamweight[a]||Joe Warren||Travis Marx||Bellator 107|
- Four-man Tournament
Bellator MMA: Season Ten (February 28, 2014 – May 17, 2014)
Bellator's Tenth season began on February 28, 2014. For this season the middleweight and light heavyweight tournaments were held as four-man tournaments, while all tournaments were the standard Bellator eight-man tournament.
|Heavyweight||Alexander Volkov||Blagoy Ivanov||Bellator 120|
|Light Heavyweight||Quinton Jackson||Muhammed Lawal||Bellator 120|
|Featherweight||Daniel Weichel||Desmond Green||Bellator 119|
|Middleweight||Brandon Halsey||Brett Cooper||Bellator 122|
|Welterweight||Andrey Koreshkov||Adam McDonough||Bellator 122|
|Lightweight||Marcin Held||Patricky Freire||Bellator 126|
Summer Series 2014Edit
Bellator MMA: 2014 Summer Series (June 6, 2014 – July 25, 2014)
Bellator's 2014 Summer Series began on June 6, 2014. The 2014 Summer Series featured an eight-man light heavyweight tournament and a series of Season 10 tournament finals.
|Light Heavyweight||Liam McGeary||Kelly Anundson||Bellator 124|
Bellator MMA: Season Eleven (September 5, 2014 – November 15, 2014)
This was Bellator's final tournament season, as well as the last to be overseen by former CEO & Chairman Bjorn Rebney.
|Division||Upper weight limit||Champion||Since||Title defenses|
|Heavyweight||265 lb (120 kg; 18.9 st)||Ryan Bader||January 26, 2019 (Bellator 214)||0|
|Light Heavyweight||205 lb (93 kg; 14.6 st)||June 24, 2017 (Bellator 180)||1|
|Middleweight||185 lb (84 kg; 13.2 st)||Vacant||February 10, 2020||N/A|
|Welterweight||170 lb (77 kg; 12 st)||Douglas Lima||October 26, 2019 (Bellator 232)||0|
|Lightweight||155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st)||Patrício Freire||May 11, 2019 (Bellator 221)||0|
|Featherweight||145 lb (66 kg; 10.5 st)||April 21, 2017 (Bellator 178)||3|
|Women's Featherweight||145 lb (66 kg; 10.5 st)||Cris Cyborg||January 25, 2020 (Bellator 238)||0|
|Bantamweight||135 lb (61 kg; 9.9 st)||Vacant||November 27, 2019||N/A|
|Women's Flyweight||125 lb (56 kg; 8.13 st)||Ilima-Lei Macfarlane||November 3, 2017 (Bellator 186)||4|
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