Bellator MMA will begin its 2021 schedule in a new broadcast home.
The California-based promotion announced Tuesday that it will air exclusively on Showtime beginning with a trio of events in April. In conjunction with that partnership, Showtime is offering a 30-day free trial followed by a monthly rate of $4.99/month for six months.
“We’ve been interested in MMA for quite a while. We have a long history in the sport going back 15 years,” Showtime president Stephen Espinoza said. “We’ve been talking to Scott [Coker] off and on since 2014 when he took over as Bellator president. When you look at the trajectory of Bellator, the time just felt right for us to combine forces. Bellator has matured and elevated itself to a point where it now belongs on a premium television network.”
The schedule will kick off on April 2 with Bellator 255, which is headlined by a featherweight grand prix semifinal between reigning 145-pound champion Patricio Freire and Emmanuel Sanchez. Meanwhile, Bellator 256 on April 9 and Bellator 257 on April 16 will each feature a pair of quarterfinals from the newly-announced light heavyweight grand prix.
Finally, Bellator 258 will take place on May 7 and will be topped by a bantamweight title tilt between Juan Archuleta and Sergio Pettis. All of the aforementioned events are expected to be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
According to Coker, the plan is for Bellator to hold approximately two events per month for the rest of 2021 following the three-event Showtime launch in April. Bellator has struggled to find a consistent broadcast home in recent years, bouncing from Paramount Network to Dazn to most recently, CBS Sports Network.
Coker worked with Showtime in the past as president of the now-defunct Strikeforce organization, which also aired on the premium network before it was purchased by Zuffa and absorbed into the UFC.
“This is really a full circle opportunity,” Coker said. “When I look at the past, like Stephen said, with Strikeforce we created so many great champions, we created so many great fighters that really have led the way for the history books and the legends of mixed martial arts fighters moving into the future. But what I’m really excited about now is over the last five years we have really put together the pieces and this is the best roster in the history of Bellator. So I’m really excited, I’m really excited to put it on Showtime, we have some exciting things to announce. It’s going to be amazing.”
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