GLORY's next move could end up being one of the most important and pivotal decisions in its short history. That would be collaborating with Bellator for this weekend's Bellator MMA: "Dynamite 1" card on Sat. night (Sept. 19, 2015).
Rumors of Spike TV not renewing its television contract past GLORY 24 on Oct. 9 have been running rampant for quite some time. Numbers have been declining and GLORY 22-23 were the two lowest-rated fight cards in the kickboxing promotion's tenure on Spike.
Both of those cards haven't received much help either, with GLORY 22 being shown live at 4 p.m. ET from France without a replay, and GLORY 23 being given an 11 p.m. ET start time.
GLORY CEO Jon J. Franklin's ability to collaborate with Bellator President Scott Coker and secure a GLORY ring next to the Bellator cage inside SAP Center for this historical event featuring both kickboxing and MMA in San Jose, Calif., is vastly important in terms of what lies ahead for the promotion.
Bellator's last two tentpole events drew well over two million viewers, which guarantees there will be a dramatic increase in eyeballs for GLORY, perhaps more than ever before. Yes, there are only two true GLORY fights on the bill: the light heavyweight title fight between Zack Mwekassa and Saulo Cavalari and the featherweight contender bout between Serhiy Adamchuk and Anvar Boynazarov.
But Paul Daley vs. Fernando Gonzalez and Kerri Anne Taylor-Melendez vs. Hadley Griffith are fighting in kickboxing matches and that will put the emphasis on GLORY for the casual fan.
If the kickboxing portion of the card translates well with fans and creates a buzz, Spike may very well decide to re-sign GLORY, which would perhaps lead to more "Dynamite" cards on top of its regular events. If Spike does not renew -- which is a strong feeling behind the scenes from several insiders -- then Franklin was able to hand out his business card to a couple of million viewers at Bellator MMA: "Dynamite," as well as introduce GLORY to several potential landing spots.
The fast-paced action of GLORY could translate into some highlight-reel knockouts, and could very well end up stealing the thunder from the Bellator light heavyweight four-man tournament, as well as the 205-pound title fight between Liam McGeary and the aging Tito Ortiz.
Mwekassa is a knockout artist, as is Daley, and we know fans love themselves some knockouts.
Should that be the case, and the introduction of GLORY to the already solid and established Bellator fan base is a stellar one, then Franklin will come out looking like a genius after this event. Especially if news follows that GLORY and Spike will continue working with one another and that GLORY will part of the next "Dynamite" card.
The world's leading kickboxing promotion will have delivered at precisely the right time it really needed to.
I would imagine it's going to take not only a good showing at Bellator MMA: "Dynamite 1," but also a big return at GLORY 24 for Spike to continue its relationship with the kickboxing promotion. However, a strong showing at Bellator MMA: "Dynamite 1" and fans may be inclined to tune in on Oct. 9 to watch GLORY 24 and the main event between Joe Schilling -- who also fights for Bellator -- and Jason Wilnis, as well as a heavyweight contender tournament.
If a new deal with Spike doesn't come to fruition, Franklin -- a career-long sports producer, sports-media executive, and former vice president at IMG Media Group -- seems to already be a step ahead, as it was recently reported he had a meeting with Showtime executives.
"Operating in the best interests of all GLORY stakeholders, it behooves us to discuss broadcast opportunities with all networks that reach out to us," Franklin told Bloody Elbow. Showtime is under the CBS umbrella, as is CBS Sports, which broadcasts the GLORY Superfight Series.
Franklin did not indicate the meeting with Showtime was due to the Spike deal coming to an end, saying "the model of major sports leagues is not one of exclusivity." He added that Spike is a "great partner" and the goal is to "maximize exposure" for the GLORY fan base.
Whatever happens, Franklin will have succeeded in getting GLORY in front of its biggest audience at Bellator MMA: "Dynamite 1" before the conclusion of its current Spike deal. It's a move that could very well end up keeping GLORY on Spike.
And if Spike moves on from GLORY and starts its own kickboxing league -- which has also been rumored -- then you get the feeling he is the right man for the job to steer the ship and navigate GLORY to a new television home and keep its plans for American success on course.
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