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Saturday, June 05, 2010
For the next three Thursdays, Bellator will be running their season 2 tournament finals. On Thursday, June 10, Toby Imada faces Pat Curran in the lightweight (155 lbs.) finals in Hollywood, Florida. On Thursday, June 17, Ben Askren fights Dan Hornbuckle in the welterweight (170 lbs.) finals in Kansas City, Missouri. And on Thursday, June 24, there are two finals, as Joe Warren fights Patricio "Pitbull" Freire in the featherweight (145 lbs.) finals and Bryan Baker takes on Alexander Shlemenko in the middleweight (185 lbs.) finals, in Louisville, Kentucky.
All three cards will be televised live in the U.S. on Fox Sports Net and their affiliates, which will also air replays of these shows. In addition, highlight shows of these cards will air on NBC, Telemundo, and mun2. In Canada, The Score will telecast these shows on tape-delay. As always, check your local listings.
The winners of these four tournaments will face the Bellator champions in their respective weight classes in season 3, which starts Thursday, August 12.
We spoke with Bjorn Rebney Friday afternoon by phone about these tournament finals. Our lengthy discussion not only previewed these fights, but also focused on the business side of Bellator. We discussed the results thus far of their multi-network television deal, and the problems associated with running live shows for Fox Sports Net, where they have been preempted in many markets in various weeks over the course of season 2. We discussed the average number of viewers Bellator has been getting in season 2, the possibility of a new television deal in the future where there will be no preemptions, and how their national tour has been going for their live events.
We also discussed a number of other issues, including the possibility of Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez fighting Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez in what would be a co-promotion, and the future of Roger Huerta, who lost in the semifinals of the season 2 lightweight tournament.
We got a glimpse of season 3, which will feature these four championship fights as well as at least three new tournaments. There will be a heavyweight tournament, including two-time NCAA Div. I wrestling champion Cole Konrad. There will be a bantamweight (135 lbs.) tournament. And there will be the first women's tournament for Bellator, in the 115-pound weight class, scheduled to include such top fighters as Megumi Fujii, Rosi Sexton, Lisa Ward, and Jessica Pene.
Overall, Bjorn Rebney painted a positive and optimistic picture. "Projections that were in our business model are projections that we are currently exceeding," he said during this interview.
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