Bellator’s Bjorn Rebney has been quite outspoken since the launch of Bellator all of those many years ago. Over the past few years Bellator has picked up some steam, even getting a much-vaunted spot on Spike TV, the former home of the UFC. Now that Bellator is seen by some as competition, Bjorn Rebney is still pretty confused as to why Bellator still gets so much negative press and attention from the MMA community. He does, of course, have a theory, though. [source]
I think the UFC has ruled MMA with an iron fist for many, many years and there are a lot of people whose lifeblood is connected to the UFC. Very few people are willing to say anything that conflicts or confronts the UFC mantra and philosophy.
It’s never, ever easy to be the guy chasing the #1 and trying to take over that #1 spot. That’s a very difficult fight and it’s a fight that we have legitimately now been engaged in for about a year plus. Before that we were just another player in the space and nobody really knew us. We had this cool tournament format and a few good fighters and everyone was like “yeah, ok there’s some good fights in Bellator.” But over the last year since we launched on Spike suddenly the thought process has changed. People look at us and they go “wow, Curran and Pitbull and Straus really could beat anybody on the face of the Earth, and Chandler and Alvarez are two of the best Lightweights in the world” and on and on. And the ratings speak for themselves. We’ve been one million plus on the peaks for two weeks straight, and I bet we’re one million plus on peaks this week as well, so we’re beating the UFC in a very important area which is cable ratings.
When people have been attached to a certain thing for an extended period of time that’s going to generate a little bit of a knee jerk thing. Change is always a very difficult thing for people to digest. But change is coming.