Bellator MMA is an American Mixed Martial Arts promotion based in Santa Monica, California. It is known for being one of the largest Mixed Martial Arts promotions in the world, following UFC.
Bellator MMA was founded in 2008 seeing the surge of popularity that the UFC had gathered by then-Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. During the foundation, Bellator MMA featured ‘The Toughest Tournament in Sports’ which was a single-elimination tournament, where the winner of the tournaments were awarded $100,000.
Scott Coker then took over as the president of the company, stopping the tournament format, and following a traditional MMA format of a number of 1 vs 1 fights placed on Bellator cards throughout the year.
However, 2011 saw a major change take place in Bellator MMA. Viacom acquired a big stake in the company, and from the month of January in 2013, Bellator started being aired on Spike. They produced 25 annual events till 2015. They also produced highlight shows and some reality shows as well.
The cage of Bellator started with being a traditional Octagon. However, once Scott Coker took over, he changed the cage. It still has eight separate angles, thus technically still being an Octagon, but it looks far more like a circle than the old one.
In 2014, the month of May was a tremendous one for Bellator MMA. Thy held their inaugural pay-per-view event from the Landers Center. The event saw the Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament Final where Rampage Jackson took on King Mo, Michael Chandler fought Will Brooks for the Lightweight Title, and Titio Ortiz fought Alexander Shlemenko. It also saw the final of Bellator Season 10 Heavyweight Tournament between Alexander Volkov and Blagoy Ivanov.
While the traditional tournament format was dropped by Scott Coker in favour of a more traditional MMA format, he introduced new tournaments which took place over the course of 3 months. The tournaments featured eight participants who all fought each other, slowly making their way to the next round.
The tournament also saw the creation of Bantamweight and Heavyweight weight-divisions in Bellator.
While Bellator MMA signs some of the top talent in the world, they have developed a reputation of signing former UFC Fighters for their big name status, and older fighters. On the other side they sign younger talent who had not made their name in the bigger scene yet. They do, however, have some fighters who have also purely made their name in Bellator. Some of their top talent include Ryan Bader, Michael Chandler, ‘Pitbull’ Patricky Freire, Fedor Emelianenko, Gegard Mousasi, Rampage Jackson to name but a few.
With Viacom holding a majority share, their shows were broadcast on MTV2, later the Paramount Network (then known as Spike). Following that, in 2018, they announced a streaming deal with DAZN. Since Bellator 206, all the events are available in DAZN now, as well as 7 exclusive cards which have been paired with them as well.