As I’m writing this, I am now 39-years-old and I would like to say that I am happy to report that I can most definitely ride a bicycle.
I know, I know. You are absolutely amazed, but before you start showering me with roses and praise, let me tell you — it did not come easy. I really had to work at it.
See, when I was at the tender age of 3, I began training on this really odd looking instrument that only resembled a bicycle, which we will now call a “bike”, because it rolled. It was odd because it had three wheels and the one wheel in the front was bigger than the ones in the back. They called the thing a tricycle. I really had problems with this piece of instrumentation and it took me some time but I got it after a while and then I stepped up BIG TIME. My managers and advisors (also known as my parents) thought that I was ready for the “league” and what they did was move me to a mobile instrument called, THE BIG WHEEL!
Now, at the age of 4, I was certifiably, THE MAN, because I had this new instrument which allowed me to sit back and pedal and the wheel in the front was even bigger than before on that tricycle. I rode this for a while until I was ready to step up. Upon stepping up, I was super embarrassed. I was moved to a bike and these people, my managers and advisors, should have been FIRED on the spot!!!!!
Let me tell you what these people did to me. Ugh!!!! I was so embarrassed!!!! They have the gall — the audacity — the NERVE — to buy me a bike and then STICK TWO WHEELS ON THE SIDE OF IT AS IF I NEEDED SOME HELP!!!! They called them “training wheels” if that was any better. I mean, here I was trying to still hide the fact that I was peeing in the bed at night and now this. It was just more than I could handle. Therapy was the next step for me. I mean really!!!
But I rode on my training wheels at the ridicule of all of the older kids in the neighborhood who would laugh at me and make fun of my “training wheels.” Unbeknownst to me, they were doing this to influence me to pull them off as soon as possible so that they could laugh some more. None of them came up to me and said, “You know what? I had training wheels on at one time too. Just keep them on and keep riding and you will be okay. When you take them off, you will fall more than a few times but they are made so that you can get the hang of what it feels like to ride a bike.”
Nobody told me this. Nobody.
Riding my bike everyday with my training wheels on was embarrassing and I couldn’t wait to take them off.
The first day that I took them off, my father held the back of the seat while I started to pedal and get my balance and then he let the seat go and VOILA!!!! I fell right on my side and damn near broke my arm and took the skin off the right side of my leg.
It was tough. And my dad told me, “Rhadi, you did a GREAT JOB!! Son, everybody falls when they first start riding a bike and even when you ride for a long time you still fall every once in a while too. So don’t worry about falling, that’s all part of learning how to ride. If you don’t fall, you can’t get better. As you get better, you’ll fall less.”
I remember that lesson and with that I will say this to you.
Bellator had their time when they were riding the tricycle. They’ve done their time where they rode the BIG WHEEL. The Bellator Fighting Championships company put on their training wheels and got the hang and feel of riding. And on May 17th they took the training wheels off. And as cruel as it would be for anyone to look at a 5-year-old fall off of a bike and point their finger and laugh at the attempt to do something great — such behavior is in the same class.
There are not many companies which have such a platform for fighters to succeed, compete and have an opportunity for exposure, competition, positioning and branding. Bellator provides this. They have done 120 shows and in their 120th, made an attempt to put on a great card with some great talent and some of the biggest and well-known names in the business. Now, I am no expert when it comes to business if you compare me to Mr. Bjorn Rebney, Mr. Floyd Mayweather or Mr. De La Hoya, but I do know this. I know that I have succeeded and failed in business several times but I never got anything accomplished if I did not try.
The Bellator 120 card was a HUGE success because there are very few companies that can put on a pay-per-view show and now the Bellator company can reassess if such a venture is good for the company, or how they need to change their model, or if it needs to be changed. But the last thing you want to do as a Mixed Martial Arts fan is not support the fighters, the companies that put on great fights and the families which truly have sacrificed for you so their family member can entertain you and risk their life on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night.
Was there some controversy? Yes, of course. Which MMA show doesn’t have some from time to time, or boxing for that matter.
Was there a circus act? Kind of. The Alexander Shlemenko versus Tito Ortiz fight was an opportunity to put some great talent on the card for the draw. We’ve seen plenty of “circus acts” put on by the UFC. PLENTY!
Were there some exciting fights? Yes, plenty. Say what you want, there were some great fights on that card.
Did the Mo Lawal vs. Rampage fight deliver as we expected? Who knows? Some like it. Some did not. Some thought Mo won and some thought Rampage got away with a home-cooked victory. Either way, it was a great night.
Sometimes you have to put down the beer, the wings, the fries, the drinks, the pizza and the soda and look at the whole picture within the landscape of the sport.
This weekend was HUGE for Mixed Martial Arts. Huge! And people with the last names Warren, Askren, Masvidal, Lombard, Good, Sanchez, Brown, Sexton, Hawn, Eye, Aguilar, Gurgel and many others not only helped get MMA and Bellator to where it is right now, they have also helped shape many other organizations such as the UFC and the World Series of Fighting (WSOF).
So, when you ask yourself, “Was Bellator 120 a success?” the answer should be, “It most certainly was.”
Bjorn Rebney took the training wheels off. He rode a little. He fell down and scraped his knee. He will get back up and keep riding. It was not a bad show. The shows, as they have been, will continue to get better and better. It was a first PPV show! Comparing Bellator’s first PPV show to a UFC PPV show is not only ridiculous, it’s cantankerous. It was a great show, great production and I hope to watch my man Rick Hawn headline on a pay-per-view show some time next year.
Remember, the last thing that you want to as a Mixed Martial Arts fan is not support the fighters, the companies that put on great fights and the families which truly have sacrificed for you so their family member can entertain you and risk their life on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. So support, M1, Bellator, UFC, One FC, the other companies out there and the local shows in your area. Why? Because we all love MMA and in order for our sport to grow we have to continue to support our sport.
Job well done Mr. Rebney. Job well done.