Bjorn Rebney talks King Mo blow-up after PPV, Future PPVs and UFC business

Bjorn Rebney was a guest on the latest episode of Submission Radio. Bjorn talked about The situation with King Mo and pulling him aside backstage, If Rampage really wants the title or just wants tro make movies, Bellator Champions vs UFC Champions, Alvarez/Chandler 3, If the UFC will continue to be on FOX, Improving future Bellator PPV's and never being like the UFC in terms of volume, if Shlemenko's loss damaged his aura, the future of the tournament format and never taking a cut from fighter's sponsors

Full interview-

Interview highlights:

Thoughts on the King Mo fight and his reaction post fight

"He and I spoke post event, because first I wanted to get it right from the horse's mouth. I wanted to find out what was going on, because I didn't expect it, because Mo and I have had pretty good communication over the last few years since I signed him and I got him the deal with TNA, and we've done a lot of things, and we were doing a lot of things in terms of promotion of the event, so I confronted him backstage. It was like, 'hey, let's pull away from everybody else, get the microphone away from you and tell me what the hell is going on."

"There's no shame in having lost twice to Emanuel Newton and Rampage, but I think (King) Mo was under a lot of pressure. Legacy pressure, position in the space pressure, money pressure etc, and so that loss was not a good one for him. And I think you saw some of that reaction emotionally post fight, is that he was very upset. Now look, I said it, and often times I step away from saying 'here's how I think a fight should've been scored', or 'I agree or disagree', but a lot of the judges have been interviewed and I agree with the judges that have been interviewed. I think that look, I think that Mo clearly won the first round with takedowns. I think Rampage clearly won the second round, controlling the fight in the stand-up game and landing more solid punches, and the third was very close. But as I reviewed the third round and as I've looked at it, now I've watched it multiple times, Mo landed a takedown and Rampage controlled  the fight standing, landed more effective punches and pressed the action. So I don't have any hesitation in saying the same that I said post fight, which was, as I watched the fight, and I've been around a lot of fights, I think Rampage win the fight."

If Rampage really want the title or if he prefers to make movies and fight occasionally

"The Pinnacle, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for fighters is that strap, is the world title strap, and I know it's something he and I have talked about many times. So I think he wants it."

"There are some issues and hurdles in the way of that because of the fact that he (Rampage) and (Emanuel) Newton share a trainer, and I think we saw that with Rashad and Jon, and we've seen it before at the top level in MMA. It just so happens we've also seen it at 205."

"The advantage that we've got with 'Page is that those TV opportunities, and the film opportunities, the reality show projects that we're working on with our partners at spike, the film opportunities, are all things that we're doing together. So what's not happening is like what happened when he was with the UFC, when he was fighting and then got an incredible opportunity from an outside source to do a film project called "The A-Team", which did a hundred and twenty million dollars worldwide, and then step away from the fight game."

"I think what happened in the past with him is he got an incredible opportunity to do an incredible movie that was wildly successful, and he went and did it, which is what he should've done because it helps build up the Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson brand and the Q score, but it wasn't coordinated with the promotional company, so they got very upset by it. Well we've got everything under one umbrella.

On when will we see Will Brooks vs Eddie Alvarez

"That's the question. I said it post-fight, per Ed's (Eddie Alvarez) agreement, per all the settlement agreement that we had with Ed to make all these fights happen, the next fight in Ed's contract is Michael Chandler. And that's per his agreement with us. So we're gonna have to sit down and we're gonna have to talk with Ed and talk with all the relative participants. You know, but it could be Chandler/Alvarez three in the trilogy and it could be Will Brooks defending the interim belt against one of our tournament winners. That could be the scenario that ends up unfolding, because contractually Ed is contracted per his settlement to fight Mike in this second fight. So that may end up being the route that we have to go."

If Shlemenko's loss damages him and aura in Bellator

"When a HUGE man fights a smaller man, does that take away from what Shlemenko has done at 185, does it take away from how dominant he's been as a middleweight champion and from the amazing performances he's put on? I don't know. That's a tough question. We're gonna have to see how people respond as he gets back into the cage to defend that 185 belt, but don't lose track of the fact that he was THIRTY FIVE POUNDS smaller. THIRTY FIVE pounds smaller than Tito when they went into that cage, and you could see it when they stepped in and after Tito made that glorious entrance."

"The question now is not 'Oh Tito's washed up', the question now is what did that fight on Saturday prove, and is Tito really back?"

Thoughts on the UFC's ppv's and if there are too many of them

"There was a time when they had great pay per views and the pay per views were big events. And now what it feels like to me is, it feels like just a repetition. It's like whether it's a big event, or a small event, whether it's got great fights or mediocre fights, it's always there. And the expectation is that people should always pay for it. and I think that when you're asking people to dig into their pockets for hard earned dollars, whether it's thirty five, or forty, or fifty five dollars, you should be providing  entertainment to them that really warrants that kind of a premium purchase."

"I think part of the reason that the UFC has experienced a real down-turn in their average pay per view buy rate is that, that's not happening the way that it used to."

The UFC's deal with FOX and if it will continue

"They have articulated an expectation of success numbers wise, that they have not yet achieved."

"There is an awful lot of UFC content out there. Some of it is good, some of it is not so good, and they're having a more difficult time now maintaining higher levels of pay per view buy rates on average. They're pay per view buy rates have dipped down."

"It's interesting that the conversation comes up and it's interesting when I get asked about it because you don't know."

On future Bellator PPV's and how many we can expect in the future

" We'll gonna do more pay per view, but we're not gonna ever be the UFC. We're never gonna do a pay per view every two and a half, three weeks, whether it's good or not good. We're never gonna force feed premium content and ask for you know, thirty nine or forty nine or forty five dollars from them, unless I feel when I look at the card that it's got huge value to it, and it's got big fights, and it's warranted to be a premium event"

"This one was, and we probably will be doing another one sometime over the next six or nine months, but they'll be few and far between. They're gonna be the best of the best, and we're gonna continue to work with Spike, you know literally the worldwide leader in MMA content production, promotion and distribution. We're gonna keep working with Spike doing twenty five shows a year that build those stars out, that fuel those two or maybe three big pay per views per year. But we're not gonna turn into the animal that consistently relies on pay per view, because it's just not, you want 'em to be big, you want 'em to be special, you want them to have big storylines, and that's the key to the success in that market."

What to improve on in future Bellator Pay Per Views

"In terms of improvement and things that I might do differently, pacing wise, looking at the show now six or seven times; we're always trying to force as much water through the fire hose as we can when we're doing our shows on a weekly basis on spike. We're trying to put as many fights on TV as possible, so we're always rushing, we're always running really fast, trying to make the show have more fights, and more fights, and more fights. We took a little bit of a brake off of that and we gave more time between fights, told more stories, spent more time doing interviews. I think we may have gone a little too far."

"I would probably do it a little bit quicker next time we do it."

Bellator Champions vs UFC Champions

"Given that GSP is not in the space right now and given that there are  a lot of different 170 pounders out there, but if you look across the expansive MMA at 170 they're mostly  strikers. They're reliant upon their striking, they rely on their striking, that's where you see the strength in the welterweight division right now across the full expansive MMA, I think doug Lima beats anybody on earth. If you're standing up inside of a cage and you're 170 pounds, I'll put my money on Doug Lima putting you to sleep.

The future of the Tournament format

"When I started this company, when I started building it in 2008 and launched it in 2009, the essence in our point of difference was that we were a real sports competition. We weren't guys in a shiny suit deciding who was gonna fight for what and when. We weren't gonna hand pick guys that we thought we could sell to consumers, we were gonna let fighters earn it through a tournament. So that's not going anywhere."

"Will we make adjustments, will we make small tweaks, will we change things ever so slightly to give us a little bit more flexibility? Yeah. We did that with the championship rematch clause. There are some other small changes we're looking at, but at its core, those four and eight man tournament are gonna stay, because that's what's allowed us to develop you know, a collection of the greatest fighters in all of MMA."

Sponsor and uniforms

"I've never employed a sponsor tax, nor will I ever employ a sponsor tax. No sponsor on earth is ever gonna have to pay us money to pay a fighter money. You pay a fighter money directly, we don't expect to get any part of that vig. We don't expect to get a percentage, we don't expect to get a take on that. We don't charge you to pay our fighters a sponsorship to be in our cage, nor will we exclude you from being on one of our fighters in the cage. And I think the uniform comes into that. Let the fighters wear what the fighters wanna wear, let them get their own apparel deals, let them benefit one hundred percent from that apparel deal."

"I think that uniforms work great in baseball, uniforms work in Australian rules football, and in American football, and in basketball, and in hockey. Mixed Martial Arts combat is a completely different thing. It's an individual sport. Express yourself individually, you don't need to all walk in, in a specific uniform. Wear what you wanna wear, dress how you wanna dress, represent who you wanna represent and keep the money from that to yourself."

"There is no conceivable option right now I see, for us implementing a uniform policy the way that the UFC's talked about it."

First thoughts when Alvarez was off the card

"I had always promoted this and from a promotional and advertising marketing perspective, I had always promoted it as having two main events. Because I thought that Rampage versus (King) Mo had a HUGE amount of buzz behind it, as did Alvarez/Chandler 3, the trilogy fight. So we had an incredible Main event to step into that sole position. And then of course we had (Michael) Chandler stay on the card versus Will Brooks. We had all the different pieces in place, Tito in a really interesting, whacko kind of fight against Alexander Shlemenko etc."

"You never like getting those calls, but to have as many big fights as we had on that card, and to only get one call, honestly is not the end of the world. I mean, you expect that you're gonna lose somebody. Ed was the only person we lost. And we'll get to see that trilogy fight at some point coming up in the future"

Did he think about making it a free card like the first Bellator PPV

"Never gave a consideration to it. I mean look, November 2nd was a much different show. That had a lot of Spike-worthy fights on it, but without that, with having happen what happened with 'Page and Tito, it gave me the context to pause to wait, to think, and I think the Spike move was the right move back then in November. This card was just too packed."

"I just knew we had a Pay Per View card and I knew that it should remain on Pay Per View and set the table, so it never crossed my mind."

If he could sign any fighter past or present to fight in Bellator, who would it be?

"Rickson Gracie"

Best regards,
Denis Shkuratov
Submission Radio Australia

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