Big news coming out of the “City of Angels” as Bellator and Spike TV announced that they will be partnering Monster Energy and NASCAR to promote MMA fights that will take place at four select races during the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
It what is surely one of the shrewdest business moves in MMA history, the fights will be a pre-race activity available for the just under one hundred thousand people that NASCAR routinely averages for their live gate at these races.
The following was released via an official press release from the promotion:
“I’m excited to announce Bellator’s partnership with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “Bellator and NASCAR fans are some of the most passionate in sports and we couldn’t be happier to bring MMA and motorsports together. Monster Energy has been a great partner of ours over the years and we’re excited about the opportunity to integrate our brand into another great sports property within the Monster Energy family. I want to thank Cody Dresser and Hans Molenkamp from Monster Energy for helping put this great partnership together, and I’m looking forward to introducing Bellator to a whole new fan base.”
“MMA is an exciting sport that appeals to a wide demographic,” said Mitch Covington Vice President of Sports Marketing. By partnering with Bellator to bring mixed martial arts to NASCAR we are able to bring a fresh dynamic to the racetrack and a taste of what Monster Energy is into, allowing us all to connect with a new fan base in relevant and meaningful ways to further elevate the series.”
Bellator is currently scheduled to host events at four races throughout the current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, including both NASCAR’s championship and all-star race weekends.
Bellator MMA will be featured at the following 2017 NASCAR races:
- Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 20
- Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 19
- Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, October 15
- Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, November 19″
This announcement continues to reinforce that the promotion owned by massive media conglomerate VIACOM has a willingness to “think outside the box” and are not afraid to use other sports as a platform to promote their own brand. Something the UFC has failed to do in the past. Although the rabidness and loyalty of NASCAR fans may not be truly appreciated by many MMA fans around the world, there is no denying that stock car racing’s biggest company has a huge market. Despite being seen by some as a fringe sport, NASCAR races draw bigger crowds than any other sport in the world both in terms of live attendance and television viewership. NASCAR fans also happen to be the exact demographic upon which MMA was marketed towards in the early years of the sport almost 25 years ago.
2016 saw Bellator bring their brand to the international landscape as they promoted bouts in three countries that the UFC has yet to visit, Italy, Israel and Hungary. In 2017 they have continued to grow that presence as they have already scheduled 4 international shows, one of which has already taken place in Belfast and the second of which, an MMA and Kick Boxing Card, is to be held this Saturday, April 8th in Torino, Italy. It will be their second event in that city and will be headlined by a consensus top 10 ranked lightweight, Bellator Champion Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas versus former RFA and LFA title holder Leandro Higo. In the past, champions from these promotions have traditionally been signed to the UFC.
The company has also continued to solidify their role as being a power player in terms of fighter pay as they have landed a number of high-profile free agent signings of homegrown UFC fighters in recent years such as Rory McDonald and Benson Henderson, just to name a few. The biggest coup perhaps being the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, who chose to sign with Bellator over the UFC in November of 2016. “The Last Emperor” will make his Bellator debut against former UFC fighter Matt Mitrione at Bellator 180 on June 24th. That show will be the promotion’s second pay-per-view and their first show in New York City at the Mecca of fight venues, Madison Square Garden.
Gokhan Saki vs Khalil Rountree JR Added to UFC 219
Kickboxing superstar Gokhan Saki will make his return to the octagon just three months after his UFC debut, as he faces Khalil Rountree at UFC 219.
Saki (1-1 ) made a big statement at UFC Japan in September, knocking out Henrique de Silva with a devastating, statement making left hook.
Rountree (6-2) is a TUF-23 alumni. His UFC run started unsuccessfully losing two in a row including his TUF 23 contract fight. However, Rountree is now on a two-fight winning streak after picking up consecutive first round knockout victories against Paul Craig and Daniel Jolly.
After making his MMA debut in 2004, Saki signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC in May and was succesful in his return to the cage. Saki’s first round KO of de Silva earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) September 23, 2017
Neither Saki or Rountree are currently ranked in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, so a win at UFC 219 could most certainly push either of the two in the top fifteen at 205-pounds.
With the addition of Saki vs. Rountree, your current line-up for the UFC 219 card on December 30th is as follows:
Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera – Bantamweight bout
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza – Women’s strawweight bout
Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny – Welterweight bout
Louis Smolka vs. Matheus Nicolau – Flyweight bout
* Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree – Light heavyweight bout
Holloway vs Edgar set to headline UFC 218
UFC 218 is set to take place on Saturday, December 2nd, in Detroit, Michigan at the Little Caesars Arena and will be available on pay-per-view.
The event is now set to be headlined by Max Holloway’s first featherweight title defense since he won the belt at UFC 212 against the legendary Jose Aldo. In his first title defense, he will take in another MMA legend in New Jersey’s Frankie Edgar.
UFC 218 will mark Frankie Edgar’s third attempt at winning the featherweight crown, with his first two attempts coming against Jose Aldo at UFC 156 and UFC 200. Edgar will be looking to become a two-weight world champion, having previously been the UFC lightweight champion. He will once again attempt to join an elite group which includes Conor McGregor, B.J. Penn, and Randy Couture as the only fighters to have been champions in two weight divisions.
Edgar is a worthy contender but you have to feel that if Aldo had won at UFC 212 then Edgar may have waited a lot longer for his return to fight for a championship. But with a new champ and McGregor firmly out the picture, the featherweight division can thrive with some new match ups.
And what a matchup this is, as we get to see two incredible fighters with two different styles take each other on, in what could turn out to be one of the fights of the year.
The UFC 218 card is now shaping up nicely as the main event joins Francis Ngannou vs Alistair Overeem on the card. As well as several other bouts such as Alvarez vs Gaethje, Cejudo vs Pettis and Herrig vs Casey.
Will Holloway extend his unbeaten run to 12 fights or will Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar cement his legacy with his second UFC world title? The world will find out on December 2nd.
BREAKING: Carlos Condit Returns to Face Neil Magny at UFC 219
Carlos Condit is back. After almost two years away from the octagon, ‘The Natural Born Killer’ will fight Neil Magny at UFC 219 on December 30th.
Whilst Condit has been amid rumors of retirement ever since his first round submission loss to Demian Maia back in August of 2016, he will be returning to action after all.
Condit’s return was in question, but his recent action on Twitter sparked some noise, when he hinted at a possible return.
what's up big guy…? I'm wanting to fight in December or January… what say you!?
— Carlos Condit (@CarlosCondit) September 19, 2017
‘The Natural Born Killer’ is currently ranked 7th in the welterweight division, he will be facing Neil Magny on December 30th, 2017, which is on the weekend of New Year’s Eve.
This fight adds onto an already-stacked card that is UFC 219, which also includes the return of the former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, a rising contender in the strawweight division in Cynthia Calvillo, and Condit’s addition to the card only makes it better.
Both Condit and Magny will be looking to get back on the winning track in this fight. This fight delivers some mix-up in the division, and with Thompson and Masvidal matched up already in the top 5, this fight will give both fighters a great opportunity to jump right back into the title fight. Magny’s last fight was against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 215, where he lost in the first round via arm-triangle choke.
Now with the addition of Condit vs. Magny, here is the line-up so far for UFC 219.
- Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera – Bantamweight bout
- Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza – Women’s strawweight bout
- Louis Smolka vs. Matheus Nicolau – Flyweight bout
- Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny – Welterweight bout
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