Unlike last season, fans will not have to hope that a Minnesota Wild game ends early so they can see the card. When Bellator announced their deal with FOX Sports Net for seasons two and three, I knew it was going to be trouble. First, I try to avoid any News Corp. property on principle. Second, FSN is mostly a regional network. Their target audience would rather watch replays on Kansas City Royals games instead of quality MMA.
Now that the promotion has moved to MTV2, fans will no longer have to stay up until 1 a.m. to watch their cards. However, this television deal presents some issues of its own. The move to Saturday is a bit worrisome. Bellator had developed quite a little groove as being the only Thursday night game in town. Now, their weekly cards will have to compete with the MMA big dogs, the UFC and Strikeforce.
More importantly, most of the products on MTV2 are light years away from Bellator. Many have pointed to the success of “Bully Beatdown” as a sign that the audience is ready for serious MMA action. However, Jason Miller‘s pet project more closely resembles the other episodic shows that are on the network.
MTV2 pushes shows likes “Pimp my Ride,” “Disaster Date” and “Viva La Bam” because they are simple and anyone channel surfing can jump right into them. They are shown all the time, and are not appointment television. Since Bellator is live, it will need an audience to know when the show is on and plan to watch it. That is not MTV2′s game.
Back in 2007, the network tried to push a new professional wrestling show called “Wrestling Society X.” It was a flop, and to further explain why, here is lucha libre fanatico and MMA media all-star Matt De La Rosa.
Prior to Bellator’s venture into the MTV2 programming schedule, the former “Music Television” network tried its hand at Professional Wrestling with the short-lived promotion Wrestling Society X in January of 2007. Trying to produce a wrestling show with an underground fight club meets rock concert atmosphere did not reel in the professional wrestling fan base or current MTV audience that the network hoped it would. The show featured a few established stars in Sean Waltman (X-Pac and Syxx of WWE and WCW) and Ian Hodgskins (Vampiro of the Mexico promotion CMLL and WCW) and current WWE talent Evan Bourne. However, the dangerous high flying maneuvers combined with a severe lack of story telling and running against WWE’s reboot of ECW during the same time slot on SCI-FI caused WSX to draw abysmal ratings. MTV tried to attract the young adult male audience that made WWE’s “Attitude” era and ECW successful in the mid to late 90′s but the product was far cry from what Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman created with their respected promotions.
It seems like this monstrosity failed because it was an inferior product and not because it was on MTV2. Let’s hope that Bellator has better success on Saturday nights. To watch, listen or read more of Matt’s work, check out his website MattDeLaRosa.com.
Now, we finally move to the picks.
Jim Wallhead vs. Rick Hawn
Bjorn Rebney and company love to make an obvious match up. A fight between a guy nicknamed “Judo” and an Olympic Judoka was too much for them to pass up. Clearly, these two fighters don’t have a problem doing things the “gentle way.” However, Hawn should be the favorite here.
Wallhead has a pretty sizable experience advantage. Hawn has only been fighting since 2009. With that being said, Hawn has shown a surprisingly well-rounded game and an imposing level of physicality. Look for the Olympian to get inside and do damage from the clinch. If he can get on top, he should be able to do enough damage to score a stoppage.
Pick = Rick Hawn
Film Study: Rick Hawn vs. LeVon Maynard
Anthony Lapsley vs. Jay Hieron
Hieron is clearly the favorite in this first-round fight. Lapsley does most of his best work on the ground. However, he will struggle to score takedowns here. On top of that, Hieron will be the better fighter on the feet and in the clinch position. Even if Lapsley can get the fight to the ground, he will still have trouble. He has several submission victories on his record, but he is not a great positional grappler. The favorite should be able to work back to his feet.
Pick = Jay Hieron
Film Study: Jay Hieron vs. Jason High
Chris Lozano vs. Lyman Good
In his Bellator debut, Lozano completely brutalized Yoshiyuki Yoshida and earned a spot in this tournament. In that fight, he did a lot of his best work on the feet. However, that is not an advantage he will have in this fight. Good is a polished striker who has competed and done well in kickboxing. He should be able to avoid the heavy strikes from Lozano and land nice counter strikes. Plus he is a solid grappler, and Lozano has looked somewhat raw in that area.
Pick = Lyman Good
Film Study: Lyman Good vs. Chidi Njokuani (Chuck Norris approved kick-fighting)
Brent Weedman vs. Dan Hornbuckle
Last year’s welterweight tournament favorite, is one of the favorites again. Hornbuckle has dominated his fights in Bellator with the exception being his one match with champion Ben Askren. Weedman is a well rounded veteran. On top of that, he is 3-0 in Bellator, he holds a victory over MFC champion Douglas Lima and has not lost since 2008. However, like most fighters, he will struggle with Hornbuckle’s reach on the feet. Look for the “The Handler” to move on to the second round.
Pick = Dan Hornbuckle
Film Study: Dan Hornbuckle vs. Akihiro Gono (ridiculous)
Zoila Frausto vs. Karina Hallinan
This fight is actually a rematch. These two faced off in their professional MMA debuts back in 2009 with Frausto taking a split-decision victory. A lot of people thought Hallinan deserved the nod. Since then, their careers have gone in different directions. Frausto is a champion in a major promotion and Hallinan is 3-4. “The Warrior Princess” has improved her defensive wrestling since early in her career. Hallinan’s offense was entirely based around getting on top in their first fight, so Frausto should be able to take another decision victory here.
Pick = Zoila Frausto
Film Study: Zoila Frausto vs. Karina Hallinan I