Bellator 180 is slated for June 24th and it'll mark sixty live events since the promotion's last, and only, PPV event. Bellator 120 was headlined by Rampage Jackson's promotional debut against "King Mo" Lawal, and also featured Will Brooks' amazing upset victory of Michael Chandler. It should've been considered a glorious night for Bellator, but instead, it only drew 100,000 buys and the promotion shied away from the pressures of PPV.
That leads us back to Bellator 180, where new President Scott Coker will attempt to once again build Bellator into a PPV company.
"We're putting it together, and our roster is robust enough that we feel like it's time to get into the pay-per-view business, so here we go," said Coker.
The attempt at promoting a PPV shouldn't come as a surprise. Coker has been recently rebuilding the roster with spurned UFC talent and slightly over-the-hill veterans. The recipe has worked several times for their Spike programs; with main events headlined by Kimbo Slice, Royce Gracie, Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock, and more.
Having that success translate to PPV buys is a huge step up, but it's well within logic if we look back into the history of another sport, pro wrestling.
In the mid-90s, WCW was looking for a way to truly compete with the #WWE and their model closely resembles what we see from Bellator. Their game plan eventually led to the infamous "Monday Night Wars," almost bankrupting the WWE. It started with WCW using the big-buck backing of Ted Turner by signing veterans that the WWE felt were past their prime and using their notoriety to garner eyes for other talented competitors.
WCW signed stars such as Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, the Steiner Brothers, and more, to bring casual fans to their weekly broadcast. Bellator 180 headliners Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva and Fedor Emelianenko are at the top of the card to get casual fans interested in the pay-per-view.
They have now begun filling the remainder of the card with intriguing technical title fights and exciting match ups. Douglas Lima (28-6) will defend his welterweight title against recent signee, and ex-UFC contender, #LorenzLarkin (18-5, 1 NC), who has also contributed to Champions' #FighterBlogs section.
Bellator stalwart Michael Chandler (16-3) is also booked against undefeated prospect Brent Primus (7-0). Those fights are the equivalent of WCW's cruiserweight division during the "Monday Night Wars." Fans come for the name recognition at the top, but they are instantly captivated by the exciting matchups leading to those fights.
The formula led to WCW catching, and briefly surpassing the WWE in the ratings war. It took the arrival of huge stars such as Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to complete the turnaround, but Bellator is well within striking distance of landing a financially disgrunteled UFC superstar. For a second, it appeared Georges St-Pierre could've been that star, given the jump made by Tristar teammate #RoryMacDonald, but the UFC was able to make the contract work for #GSP.
For now, Bellator has to focus on making this first PPV a success and building themselves to a level where they can be ready to take the next step when/if that superstar arrives.