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 411mania » MMA » Columns

Maybe Bjorn Rebney Should Worry About Bellator
Posted by Jack McGee on 04.14.2014

Following the Bellator 116 event, Bellator MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney was asked about Dana White's statement of Ronda Rousey being the biggest star in MMA. Rebney stated that there were many huge stars in MMA, and didn't want to be disrespectful. But then he stated that Rousey needed to prove herself. Here is what he had to say…

"In my own personal opinion, it seems like a very forced marketing position that someone's taking because she's attractive and she appears on a lot of magazine covers, and I think we saw that once before at Strikeforce, and (Gina Carano) fought ‘Cyborg' and lost handedly. No disrespect to Brock (Lesnar), but he was forced into a situation very quickly coming off very few fights to be positioned as a world champ because he could be sold on pay-per-view. Not because he beat the best fighters in the world, but because he could be sold. I think we're seeing the exact same thing in Ronda, and anyone who would tell you differently is not speaking the truth."

Let me break this down. Yes, the marketing is forced at times, but that is because there is something to market. Maybe you should talk to Viacom and find something within your promotion that you can promote instead of worrying about women's MMA, which you bailed on because your promotion was too inept to properly promote that part of the sport.

You compare Ronda to Gina Carano. That's all well and good, but Gina Carano fought in a time when women's MMA was in its infancy. She beat who was put in front of her, she is the main reason that women's MMA is still a thing and then lost to a fighter that was later busted for performance enhancing drugs. Don't get me wrong, Cyborg put the beat down on her, but that's some sketchy shit.

Ronda Rousey is not all good looks Bjorn. She has an Olympic background, she is 9-0 and has beaten everyone put in front of her. Eight of those ladies she beat with the arm bar. She talks like a sailor and makes no apologies for it. She's the perfect fighter for Dana White and the UFC. Women's MMA is still in its early stages, but Ronda Rousey is beating everyone that challenges her at this time, it's not her fault that she's good looking and drawing the attention of people outside the sport. Not everyone like Rousey, but she has enough buzz that people pay to see hr, pay to see her win and to see her lose. It's a win-win for the UFC. But hey, Michael Chandler has those Dave and Busters commercials.

I am sure that the real anger from that statement comes from the fact that Bjorn's "Pure Sport-Tournament Format" failed. He had to sell to Viacom to stay alive, and as you can see, they have bailed on the tournament format that they used to use. They still use elements of it, but now grant rematches and push back the all important tournament winners when they have something "marketable" to put on. They do four man tournaments to transparently get to the Rampage vs. Mo fight; they are going to the "most marketable fights," which is what works. We can talk about pure sport, rankings and "who deserves what" in MMA, but we need to remember that it is a business. And like it or not, the UFC knows the business aspect better than anyone. Hate on Brock Lesnar all you want, but the man brought in PPV buys, people talked about him, wrestling fans rooted for him to win while "MMA purists" wished he fail hard and fast. He eventually went away, but not after making bank, defeating Randy Couture and winning the UFC Title. "MMA purists" look back on horror to the Lesnar era, but the UFC laughed all the way to the bank.

Maybe your still upset about the failure of your debut PPV that never took place. The PPV that you foolishly booked Tito vs. Rampage for. And then Tito predictably backed out (even thought he was in the best shape of his life) and you cancelled the show. Why was that? Was it because you had no faith in Chandler vs. Alvarez II to draw. Because they weren't marketed as the real main event because Tito and Rampage were? You may not like how the UFC does business, but they DO business and they do it very well. Just because you haven't found your direction and stuck to it doesn't mean that the other company is doing it wrong.

And then there is Dana White, the man that Bjorn Rebney looks to want to emulate, even if he denies it. Bjorn gets pulled into pissing contests with Dana all the time and offers opinions on things he needs to avoid. I don't care if they asked you about Rousey, move the conversation along. For example… "Ronda's doing really good things in the UFC, and I am happy for her, but I am concentrating all of my efforts to prepare for Bellator 120 and the final fight in one of MMA's best series of fights, Chandler vs. Alvarez III."

It really is not all that hard. You are complimentary, you come off as professional and then it is all about your company. And that is the goal, always make it about your company, your fighters, your shows; essentially stop caring about the UFC. Don't get into a pissing battle with the UFC, because you'll lose. Don't get into arguments and back and forths with Dana White. Many people hate Dana White, they think that he is bad for the sport; so if you stoop to his level, then people will not appreciate you acting that way and or coming off as a second rate Dana White.

Bjorn, this isn't personal. I love MMA, I feel that Bellator is good for the sport and I enjoy watching the programming. I am sure that you put in hours that we as regular fans and media cannot understand. But when you seemingly focus so much time on your competition, instead of working to promote your newest debut PPV featuring Chandler vs. Alvarez, who you push as "the two greatest lightweights today" and you should because they are your fighters.

Personally I do not care what Bjorn Rebney thinks about Ronda Rousey, Dana White, WWE, chocolate milk, the Masters or anything else. Shut out the rest of the MMA world, because Bellator should be your universe. Nothing else should matter, and that is all I want to hear you talk about.

Until you do that, Bellator will stay exactly where it is.

Jack McGee in an aspiring investigative journalist with interests covering TV, Movies, Wrestling, MMA and Sports. When not hunting the Incredible Hulk, Jack works on his surfing, his Johnny Utah like throwing motion and origami.


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