Bellator Announces CBS Sports Partnership, ‘Cyborg’-Blencowe, Mousasi-Lima

By Jason Burgos and Jay Pettry Sep 11, 2020

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A new era in Bellator MMA will begin very soon.

Bellator President Scott Coker revealed at a press conference on Friday that the promotion will be ending its arrangement with Paramount Network following Bellator 246 on Saturday. Due to the merger of Viacom and CBS, Bellator will be relocated to the CBS Sports Network starting with a pair of European shows beginning on Oct. 1. Bellator will head to Milan, Italy, for Bellator 247 on the first of October, and then Paris on Oct. 10.

“I am thrilled that Bellator live events will be coming to CBS Sports Network beginning on Oct. 1, as well as the unique opportunities the partnership creates across all CBS Sports platforms,” Coker explained. “CBS Sports is synonymous with iconic sports broadcasting and it is incredible to now have Bellator MMA included in that family. I would like to thank Paramount Network, formerly Spike TV, for the years of support that helped build Bellator into the organization that it is today, and this news marks yet another exciting relationship between two ViacomCBS properties. I look forward to bringing the biggest fights, featuring the top athletes in the world, live to CBS Sports Network and introducing Bellator to an entirely new audience this fall.”

There have been some changes to the European schedule compared to what the promotion advertised previously, as Bellator will no longer be holding a card in Dublin nor will it put four shows in Milan, Italy. Instead, only one in Milan and one in Paris are on the books, although Coker did mention that other event announcements would follow in the coming days. The two previously announced bouts of Michael Page vs. Ross Houston at welterweight and Cheick Kongo vs. Timothy Johnson at heavyweight will be on the Paris show, and a headliner may still be in the works.

The first domestic CBS Sports Bellator card will be Bellator 249, where it will be headlined by a women’s featherweight championship bout between Cristiane Justino (22-2, 1 NC) and Arlene Blencowe (13-7). The event on Oct. 15 will be airing live across the country, and the promotion will no longer tape delay cards shown on the west coast. It will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, which will also play host to another blockbuster card at the end of the month.

Bellator will return to the Mohegan Sun Arena on Oct. 29, in an event topped by a middleweight title fight pitting Gegard Mousasi (46-7-2) against current welterweight king Douglas Lima (32-7). In this event that will also take place on CBS Sports, Lima will attempt to become the third fighter in promotional history to serve as a simultaneous two-division champion, following the path set by Ryan Bader and Patricio Freire. Both this card and the one headlined by “Cyborg” will be held on Thursdays. All preliminary bouts for these shows can be seen on Bellator’s YouTube channel as well as CBSSports.com going forward. The company is still working with Dazn for the time being, and there are ongoing negotiations pertaining to the future of Bellator and the streaming service.

The featherweight grand prix that was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic will also resume likely in November, according to Coker. “We’re gonna start picking up speed on the tournament,” he explained, while stating that the lineup will remain as it was before pausing. Two quarterfinal bouts of Freire-Pedro Carvalho and Emmanuel Sanchez-Daniel Weichel remain, and one semifinal of A.J. McKee vs. Darion Caldwell is also on the slate for future Bellator offerings.

Coker wrapped by admitting that there is a plan in the works to hold a “Dynamite” type event with multiple combat sports in a single card, including kickboxing, MMA and possibly boxing. Working with Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza, Coker felt the parent company supported the plan to revive the tentpole events Bellator put on in 2015 and 2016 with Bellators 142 and 157, respectively.

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