Viacom has purchased a majority stake in Bellator Fighting Championships, USA Today
reported Wednesday morning. The promotion's fights will begin airing on Spike in 2013.
The buy, said Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, provides a foundation for the promotion's future.
"It puts all of those cornerstones of ownership in place for us", Rebney told USA Today. He will stay onboard to head the fight promotion."We'll have a platform to promote the brand that reaches 99 million fans." said Rebney to Newsday. "The benefit of what we've done in terms of this partnership is going to be reflected in who we're able to sign, and where we're able to sign them from and what we're able to provide the fighters."
Spike carries rights to air the UFC library through 2012. For the time being, Spike will supplement MTV2's current Bellator programming with highlight shows and related content, online and on TV. Additionally, Spike.com will continue to stream preliminary card fights.
Spike network president Kevin Kay was bullish on the purchase. "(We) started to have conversations with MTV2 about getting invested in a mixed martial arts promotion and become owners as opposed to renters," Kay said to USA Today. "You're building value in something that you own, and you own it for the long term. You're not in a constant state of negotiation."
Bellator currently fields such talent as Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard, Welterweight Champion Ben Askren, Jay Hieron and Alexis Vila.