The recent talk of a Gilbert Melendez vs. Eddie Alvarez “strikeforce Champion vs. Bellator Champion” dream-fight got me thinking: how would cross-promotion benefit these two drastically different companies? Bellator is home to some of the most promising newcomers in the sport although they lack a lot of big-name talent, Strikeforce has a large roster of big-name talent but don’t have a lot of low-to-mid-level fighters to fill their ranks. I think both promotions would only profit from a co-promotional agreement, so here are my top five reasons why I think a Bellator/Strikeforce partnership would work.
5. Increased exposure across several television networks.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker recently stated that TV issues were the main reason holding back Melendez/Alvarez. I actually think this is a blessing in disguise. No matter who ends up with which fighter, promoters get their fighters on another network representing their brand. It’s a great way to drive up brand interest, and everyone benefits from increased TV exposure.
4. Strikeforce goes viral.
If any MMA company currently operating can be said to truly “get” viral marketing, it’s Bellator. The upstart promotion has started several successful viral marketing campaigns, the highlight of which was a video showcasing an insane Reverse Triangle Choke by Toby Imada on Jorge Rivera that earned numerous “Submission of the Year” awards. For a promotion that’s still trying to enter into the mainstream, that video alone has close to a million views. Strikeforce could only benefit from Bellator’s knowledge of how to crank out online videos that are viewed by hundreds of thousands of potential fans and customers.
3. Both promotions compliment each other’s rosters so well.
That was basically my point in the introduction to this piece, so of course this one registers high on my list. Both promotions benefit from each other’s rosters because both rosters fill each other’s gaps. Bellator would get some big names that would really drive the push to mainstream acceptance, Strikeforce would move out of the shadow of having big-name stars and, for the most part, only big-name stars. Aside from Eddie Alvarez and Roger Huerta, name a Bellator star that everyone really talks about with regularity. Aside from the champions and big-name stars, name a good low-level or mid-level talent in Strikeforce that performs with regularity and has an actual fanbase. There are examples in both cases, some of them quite obvious, but for the most part they’re few and far between. By mixing rosters, both promotions get the “best of both worlds” treatment.
2. The chance for epic dream-matches.
Alvarez vs. Melendez is the most obvious example, but why stop there? Why not Roger Huerta vs. Nick Diaz if Nick ever does make good on his promise to one day go back down to Lightweight? Bellator has a lot of weight divisions, they’ve even got a female MMA division. Moving forward, as more fighters begin to gain steam and get noticed, there’s going to be a lot of potential big-money fights available if both companies pool their resources. I wholeheartedly believe that Alvarez/Melendez would be just the tip of the iceberg.
But above all else, my #1 reason why this partnership would work is…
1. Everyone loves a rivalry.
Back in the day, do you know what would happen if you started a “UFC vs. PRIDE” argument? You’d get people laughing at you, laughing with you, siding with you, and criticizing you. You’d get arguments, debates, flame wars, trolls, and fantasy matches. Everyone would come out of the woodwork, everyone had an opinion, everyone wanted to get their words in. And do you know why that is? It’s because everyone loves a rivalry. It’s one of the most basic reasons to look forward to a fight, but it’s also one of the most enduring and most profitable. If Alvarez/Melendez kick-starts a promotional rivalry, both promotions will benefit hugely. Sides will be picked, battle lines will be drawn, and the war will rage. Strikeforce and Bellator fans will do whatever they can to support their promotion of choice, while those interested in why so many people get riled up over the rivalry end up checking out both promotions to see what the fuss is about. Everyone benefits.
And that’s what I think fans and friends. Now it’s your turn: what did you think of my list, and what would you add/subtract from it?