What is Bellator? All you need to know
For thousands of years, people have enjoyed the thrill of watching men tackle it in the arena, from ancient sports like wrestling and boxing to the infamous and bloody gladiatorial games of Imperial Rome. Combat entertainment has gotten a bit more civilized in the modern age, but if you want to see blood, then mixed martial arts – which have exploded in popularity over the past two decades – is the sport for you, and if You’re already familiar with the UFC but not really fueling it up, then Bellator is another league you need to check out.
The name Bellator, derived from the Latin word for “warrior,” recalls the days of the Roman gladiators (albeit with a little less death). Nonetheless, MMA is arguably the bloodiest sport you can legally watch today and the Bellator is the second biggest league in the United States after the UFC, so it’s definitely the one that fight fans should. have on their radars. If you’ve been following MMA for awhile, that’s not news to you, as many UFC stars past and present have earned their stripes by cracking their heads in Bellator.
Events and how to watch
Bellator was founded in 2008, so it’s more of a newcomer to the MMA scene than the UFC which was established almost three decades ago in 1993. Bellator held its inaugural event in 2009 and hosted over 250 numbered shows since. The league’s very first pay-per-view event, the Bellator 120, took place in 2014 and featured talents like Quinton Jackson, Tito Ortiz, Alexander Volkov and Michael Chandler.
Despite competing with the UFC, Bellator has proven to be a great success and has become the second largest MMA league in the United States since its inception over ten years ago. The promotion is a subsidiary of ViacomCBS, and after 2011, its fights were broadcast on Viacom-owned networks such as Spike TV. Following Viacom’s merger with CBS in 2019 to form ViacomCBS, it was announced that the Bellator events would air on Showtime and the CBS Sports Network. Bellator also signed a five-year deal with DAZN in 2018 for online broadcast rights.
Bellator has regular events – usually at least two or three a month, although often weekly – but the schedule is not as regulated as that of the UFC. The vast majority of Bellator’s shows are numbered, including free fights as well as large pay-per-view exhibits. The COVID-19 2020 pandemic has disrupted Bellator’s schedule (six events were canceled that year), but from now on, fans can expect two to four shows per month as the league has shrunk. largely upgraded.
Fighters to know
The Bellator roster boasts some of the best MMA talent in the world and more than a few famous UFC fighters have cut their teeth fighting in these esteemed ranks. Some notable Bellator alumni who have also fought with the UFC include Michael Chandler, Alexander Volkov, Ben Askren and Edward Alvarez.
Bellator recently rolled out its new official leaderboard, which you can check out here. The league also frequently picks up fighters who, for various reasons, quit or are abandoned by the UFC. Don’t assume that means the Bellator lineup is second-rate, however; here are some of the best fighters the promotion currently has to offer:
As the world’s third-ranked light heavyweight MMA fighter, Russian fighter Vadim Nemkov, 28, is one of the Bellator’s brightest rising stars. With a record of 14 wins (11 by KO) and two losses, he is currently the league’s light heavyweight champion – a title he won from Ryan Bader last August at Bellator 244 – and sits in second place of the men’s pound-for-pound ranking. behind Patricio Freire. Nemkov made his Bellator debut in 2017 after battling with Japanese league MMA Rizin, where he suffered his only two professional losses (one to the current UFC fighter and former light heavyweight champion Rizin Jiri Prochazka).
Cristiane Venancio (23-2, 18 KOs), better known by her ring name Cris Cyborg, holds both the Bellator Women’s Featherweight Championship belt and first place in the league’s pound-for-pound women’s standings. The 35-year-old Brazilian-American martial artist battled with several notable promotions including Invicta FC, Strikeforce and the UFC before signing with Bellator in 2020, where she immediately won the featherweight title with a TKO in her first match at Bellator 238. She had her first successful title defense later that year at Bellator 249, and is the only MMA fighter – male or female – to hold world championships in four major MMA leagues .
Yoel Romero (13-5, 11 KOs) is a timeless marvel: Despite being 44 years old, the Cuban fighter’s statue-like physique, explosive power, and incredible athleticism grab everyone’s attention every time. once it enters the octagon. Nonetheless, several unsuccessful offers for the UFC middleweight championship and a three-game losing streak led to Romero’s departure from the league in 2020, but not even two weeks had passed before he did. announces that he had signed a multiple combat agreement with Bellator. His first fight was sadly called off after failing to get medical clearance to fight due to an eye injury, but Romero is set to make his Bellator debut at light heavyweight soon.
Bellator has one of the best light heavyweight rosters in any MMA league and Anthony Johnson is one of the jewels in that crown. Like Romero, Johnson is a seasoned UFC veteran (he competed in the league for nearly a decade) who is set to make his Bellator debut, and would actually face Romero before the latter has to retire from the fight. for medical reasons. . Known for his punching power – 16 of Johnson’s 22 wins came by knockout – the American fighter was at the top of the UFC light heavyweight list, but unsuccessfully challenged Daniel Cormier twice for the title. Johnson will undoubtedly be a serious contender for the light heavyweight championship in what is arguably Bellator’s most competitive weight class.
Ryan “Darth” Bader (28-6, 12 KOs) currently reigns as the Bellator heavyweight champion, and previously held the light heavyweight belt. The former two-time champion lost the light heavyweight title to Vadim Nemkov in August 2020 during his move to that lower weight class, but then returned to heavyweight to win his last fight against Lyoto Machida at Bellator 256 in April. of this year. Nonetheless, Bader remains officially the number one ranked light heavyweight on Bellator’s roster – just below current champion Nemkov – and it’s not unlikely that he’ll try to reclaim his old belt sooner or later.
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire has the distinction of being Bellator’s number one pound-for-pound fighter while simultaneously holding the lightweight and featherweight titles, making him the only two-time champion in the league as of now. The Brazilian mixed martial artist, who has fought with Bellator since 2010, has 32 wins (11 by KO) with just four losses to his name. He won the featherweight championship in 2017 and defended it twice before climbing in weight to win the lightweight title two years later. Since then, Freire has defended the featherweight belt three times and is on a seven-game winning streak, having not lost a fight since 2016.