LOS ANGELES, Nov 19, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Bellator Fighting Championships, a new mixed martial arts (MMA) league, officially launched operations today, marking the entry of a new player in the billion-dollar MMA industry. To air on ESPN Deportes beginning April 2009, Bellator’s first-of-its-kind business model is a significant step forward for the fight industry, as the only nationally televised league to apply an objective format to crowning champions and awarding purses today.
Co-founded by Bjorn Rebney, a sports industry veteran and former fighting sports promoter/producer, and Brad Epstein, a respected Hollywood producer (Invincible, Dan in Real Life), the league will feature world-class fighters from across the globe. Bellator follows a unique business model, where a fighter’s wins or losses control his future. CEO Bjorn Rebney states, “We are implementing a tournament structure so that world-class fighters can fight their way to a title.” Bellator events will showcase highly competitive fights between top competitors with each tournament bout winner earning substantially larger purses and moving closer to a championship fight.
On each telecast, leading up to tournament bouts, Bellator Fighting Championships will air back-stories on each fighter. “We will use the simple yet powerful sports programming philosophy of combining elite competition with compelling feature pieces,” says Bellator founder & COO Brad Epstein.
Bellator’s nationally televised events will be crowning champions at the end of each season. There will be four simultaneous tournaments taking place in season #1 over a three month period: one in each of the Featherweight (145 lb.), Lightweight (155 lb.), Welterweight (170 lb.) and Middleweight (185 lb.) divisions. Eight fighters from around the world will be represented in each division. To win the Bellator Championship, a fighter must win a total of three fights, each consisting of three five-minute rounds over a three-month period. At the end of the initial three month, 12-event season, Bellator will have crowned four Bellator Champions and will have awarded each Champion $175,000. Opening round winners receive $25,000, semi-final round winners receive $50,000 and final winners receive $100,000.
“Mixed Martial Arts is becoming increasingly popular among Hispanics and we are thrilled to work with Bellator Fighting Championships to showcase these world-class athletes on a national platform,” says Lino Garcia, general manager, ESPN Deportes. “The structure of this championship will give fans a unique opportunity to follow their athletes as the tournament progresses.”
Bellator’s interactive Web site, www.bellator.com, featuring event and fighter information, behind the scenes video footage, fight clips and live interaction with Bellator fighters will go live in late December, 2008.
About Bellator Fighting Championships:
Bellator Fighting Championships is a Mixed Martial Arts promotional company with offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. Bellator’s founders, Bjorn Rebney and Brad Epstein, are experienced sports and entertainment professionals with a deep commitment to the purity and integrity of the sport of MMA and its athletes. Bellator Fighting Championships’ executive team is comprised of top industry professionals in the areas of live event production (including Rob Beiner, winner of 12 Emmy awards for sports programming), fighter relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations.
SOURCE: Bellator Fighting Championships