This season, you can watch Bellator fights on Spike.com. In 2013, you can watch them on Spike TV.
Bellator currently streams its live undercard via the Internet and airs its main card offerings on MTV2. Apparently Viacom, the parent company of MTV, likes what they see.
So much so that it started writing checks -- big enough to get what will now be seen as the world's second most prominent mixed martial arts promotion on Spike TV airwaves starting in 2013.
Viacom, parent of MTV Networks, bought a majority stake in Bellator Fighting Championships and will start airing the promotion's bouts on Spike in 2013, the companies told USA TODAY this week. They've had ongoing talks for about a year as they finished up various deals, and over the past month finally reached the point where they could announce the news, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said.Although Spike's agreement to carry new material from UFC ends in December, the channel still has rights to the promotion's library through 2012. As a result, fights from Bellator won't air on Spike until 2013, said Kevin Kay, Spike TV president. In addition to continuing Bellator's current practice of having two seasons annually, Spike expects to run additional programs such as highlight shows and related content, both on TV and online.
Spike TV is no stranger to combat sports, thanks largely in part to its previous relationship with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), who used the cable television network as a proving ground for up-and-coming fighters on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality show.
One door closes, another door opens.
The UFC is headed for greener pastures on the FOX network after Spike balked at Zuffa's increased licensing fees during contract negotiations earlier this year.
With the end of the Spike TV "Prelims" specials and various other MMA-related programming, the network has a pretty sizable gap to fill if it hopes to retain the 18-34 demographic that tuned in for televised fisticuffs.
Looks like Bellator will be the one to fill that void.
But will you tune in? How about it Maniacs, is more MMA action on free TV a good thing, or too much of a good thing? Any Bellator fans out there want to weigh in?