A History of Bellator MMA

There’s no doubt that the UFC is the biggest and most popular MMA promotion in the world. However, there is another promotion that is quickly on the rise, and that’s Bellator MMA. Bellator was established in 2008 by Bjorn Rebney and has since become one of the top promotions in the sport. The promotion is known for its strong roster of fighters, which includes some of the biggest names in MMA.

What Is Bellator MMA?

Bellator MMA is an American mixed martial arts promotion company based in Santa Monica, California, that is owned and operated by Viacom. It is one of the largest combat sports promotions in the world and features many of the sport’s top athletes.

Bellator was founded in 2008 by Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. In its early years, Bellator was promoted as a tournament-based organization similar to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Pride.

Bellator held its first event in 2009 and has since gone on to hold hundreds of events. The company’s signature series is Bellator MMA Live, which airs live on Spike TV and Paramount Network.

Bellator MMA has partnered with some of the biggest names in the combat sports world, including boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture. The promotion has also partnered with global brands such as Reebok, Bud Light, and Harley-Davidson.

How Did Bellator MMA Begin?

Bellator MMA was founded in 2008 by Bjorn Rebney. Rebney, a former sports agent and promoter, had previously worked with the UFC and helped launch the careers of many of the sport’s biggest stars, including Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and Randy Couture.

Bellator held its first event in 2009, which featured a single-winner elimination tournament for multiple weight divisions. The winners of the first tournament were Hector Lombard in the middleweight tournament, Lyman Good in the welterweight tournament, Eddie Alvarez in the Lightweight tournament, and finally Joe Soto in the featherweight tournament.

In 2011, Viacom acquired a majority stake in Bellator MMA, making it one of the largest combat sports promotions in the world. In May 2014. Bellator had its first pay-per-view event, which took place in the Landers Center in Mississippi.

In 2014. under the new management of Strikeforce founder Scott Coker, who replaced Bjorn Rebney, decided that Bellator would no longer base its promotion around the season-long tournaments but rather adopt a more traditional single-fight event schedule.

In 2018. Bellator signed a five-year streaming contract with DAZN; however, this contract was consensually terminated in 2020. due to the pandemic.

In 2021. Bellator announced that all their events would be broadcasted exclusively on Showtime, with Bellator 255 being the first to air on April 2nd, 2021. Only a day later, it was also announced that the BBC would air Bellator events for the United Kingdom.

In 2021. Bellator started incorporating official rankings, starting with Bellator 255.

Biggest Bellator MMA Events

Bellator MMA has held some of the biggest events in mixed martial arts (MMA) history. In 2016, the promotion staged one of the biggest shows, Bellator NYC: Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva, which featured a main event between two of the sport’s biggest stars, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva. The event was a huge success, drawing over 1 million pay-per-view buys. This fight card was stacked, featuring legends such as Fedor Emelianenko, who lost to Matt Mitrione. This card was also notable since Ryan Bader captured the light heavyweight title from Phil Davis.

In 2016, Bellator MMA had another massive event, Bellator 149: Shamrock vs. Gracie III. The event was once again a huge success, drawing over 2 million viewers.

Another successful event happened on November 19th, 2016. at Bellator 165. The main event bout featured the “Iron” Mike Chandler and former World Extreme Cagefighting and UFC champion Benson Henderson. In the end, Michael Chandler came out victorious.

In 2018, Bellator MMA staged its biggest event in company history, Bellator 198: Fedor vs. Mir, which featured a main event between two of the sport’s legends, Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir. The event was a massive success, drawing over 2 million pay-per-view buys. The victor of the fight was the legend Fedor Emelianenko via first-round KO.

Bellator MMA has also held several successful events all around the globe, with one of the most-watched ones being Bellator London.

Some of the best fights during Bellator history were: Alvarez vs. Chandler, Alvarez vs. Pitbull, Curran vs. Pitbull, and Lima vs. Saunders II, just to mention a few.

Best Fighters In Bellator MMA

Bellator MMA is home to some of the best fighters in the world. The promotion’s roster includes many of the sport’s top athletes and veterans of the sport, such as Douglas Lima, Patricio Pitbull, Ryan Bader, Yoel Romero, Lyoto Machida, and Anthony Johnson.

Gegard Mousasi is another top fighter in Bellator MMA. Mousasi is a former UFC middleweight champion and has also fought for PRIDE, Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1.

In addition to its roster of world-class fighters, Bellator MMA also features many up-and-coming talents.

The Bellator roster included some of the best fighters in the world such as champion Michael Chandler, former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, former UFC welterweight champion Benson Henderson, and former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko.

Current Bellator Champions

HeavyweightRyan Bader
Light HeavyweightVadim Nemkov
MiddleweightGegard Mousasi
WelterweightYaroslav Amosov
LightweightPatricio Pitbull
FeatherweightPatricio Pitbull
BantamweightSergio Pettis

Does the UFC own Bellator MMA?

Bellator MMA is not owned by the UFC. It has been owned, since 2011, by ViacomCBS and puts on its own events, and has its own roster of fighters. The UFC is a competing but similar organization. Many fighters have crossed over between the two promotions.


Bellator is one of the most-watched mixed martial arts promotions in the world and continues to grow its fan base with each passing year. To date, Bellator has hosted over 260 live events in eight countries and 34 states.

The company is always looking for new ways to improve the sport of mixed martial arts and provide its fans with the best possible experience. Bellator MMA is here to stay and is poised to take the sport of mixed martial arts to new heights in the years to come.

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