twitter google

Bjorn Rebney on King Mo’s loss, pursuing Rampage and Barnett, Dana White’s trash talk and more

There was a quick break in the Bellator schedule last week, the first during their premiere season on Spike. There was no rest for company CEO Bjorn Rebney, who flew to Louisiana to check in on the tapings of the soon-to-be-launched Bellator reality show. In between criss-crossing the country, scouting the world for talent and preparing for the next wave of weekly shows, which begins Thursday with Bellator 93 in Lewiston, Maine, Rebney spoke to MMA Fighting about a whole host of topics, including the move to Spike, King Mo‘s loss, pursuing Josh Barnett, Dana White‘s trash talk and more.Chiappetta: The season started off with two exciting title fights and the ratings were strong with an average of 938,000 viewers and a peak of 1.2 million. Would you classify that night as a home run?Rebney: It‘s not really my nature to classify stuff as a home run. I don‘t know. I think it was a solid start. I‘m hesitant. My goals and what I‘m looking for is far off in the distance. I‘m always kind of hesitant to say it was a home run. It was a solid event, good fights, sold-out arena, good numbers. But it was just a start on Spike. I thought it was a good start but still an awful lot of work to be done. There were problems with the show, issues with the format, things that I could see that needed improvement.Chiappetta: I‘m sure you‘re more critical than most about that. How has the season progressed as you‘ve continued the transition to Spike?Rebney: I think the most important thing is that the fights have been remarkably good. You can create amazing feature pieces and perfect the show from a production standpoint, you can tweak and change things and promote it. But If the fights aren‘t spectacular? The fights and fighters are the fuel for the entire machine. If there‘s one thing I‘m most happy, there‘s been amazing fights and performances. The tournament format has rung true, with competition being the driving force of Bellator, not how well you speak and talking your way into the things. It‘s all about the competition, and the competition‘s been amazing. That‘s the driving force of what‘s been great. The rest of the elements that flow from that, that‘s just a ton of work that we work on week in and week out.Chiappetta: A couple of weeks ago, you unveiled an app that complements the viewing experience. How has the reception been?Rebney: Jon Slusser and his team at Spike worked so hard and long to create an app that wasn‘t just the best in MMA, but competitive with the best apps in all of sports. They did an amazing job. It was never about being the best in MMA, but competing with the best on the face of the earth in the sports arena. That‘s the kind of stuff that working with the team with Viacom and Spike, we‘re able to do. I‘m very happy with the way it works and functions, and I‘m most happy with the way consumers and fans have responded to it. A lot of people are utilizing it to be our fourth judge, to learn about our fighters, to vote, to chime in, and to get much more substantive information about what‘s going on in our fights. Chiappetta: Ultimately, what grade would you give yourself for the first half of the season on Spike?Rebney: Boy, that‘s a tough one. I‘m always my harshest critic and our harshest critic. I always temper that with trying to motivate the people who work with me. They work incredibly hard. Our ops team, production, PR. I‘m probably the worst guy to give a grade. It would be lower than you probably anticipate based on how driven I am to make it better. I don’t know. I‘d leave the grading to others. I‘d say the fights have been amazing. When a show gets over, I review the DVD minute by minute, second by second. I have 7-8 other senior executives who do the same thing. We exchange notes and have several meetings and review all facets of the event. I think production‘s getting tighter. We‘ve made intentional changes to get to fights quicker. It seems to have generated positive fan response. We‘re evolving and growing. There are still a lot of things that we can still change and make better. Chiappetta: Is Michael Chandler becoming the face of Bellator?Rebney: I think what Michael Chandler has accomplished is representative of all that Bellator is. I think that what Pat Curran has accomplished is representative of all that Bellator is, too. I think that unknown fighters that 2-3 years ago, guys with no recognition in the space, if they have the talent and ability to be the very best in the world, can utilize the format and structure and partnership with Spike to become recognized as not only the best in the world, but expand their brand and become well-known faces.What Michael has done with Bellator and working in partnership with us, going from a guy nobody knew two years ago to a guy widely recognized as one of the greatest lightweights in the world and becoming a crossover personality, I think those are the kind of growth opportu…

View the entire story here

Follow MMALinker