Founded in 2008 by Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney, Bellator MMA is the largest tournament-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in the world. Based in Newport Beach, California and partnered with industry-leader Viacom, Bellator hosts "The Toughest Tournament in Sports" live and free on the home for MMA, Spike TV on Thursday nights.
Bellator includes weight classes from Bantamweight (135 pounds) all the way up to Heavyweight (265 pounds). And, each Bellator tournament in each weight class is conducted over a three month period. Each tournament begins with the quarter final round featuring eight fighters in that respective weight class, moving onto the semi-finals and then the finals. Each Tournament is single elimination and there is a one month break between quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals.
Each season of Bellator hosts a minimum of five (5) weight class tournaments. The winner of each tournament earns the right to fight for the Bellator world title against the current World champion. Without winning a Bellator tournament, a fighter cannot fight for the Bellator world title. Unlike other combat sports organizations that rely on a "matchmaking" system, Bellator is based on a real sports format where winning is the only way to earn a shot at the world title.
In October 2011, Bellator announced that it had formed a large-scale partnership with Viacom, wherein Viacom purchased a majority stake in Bellator. The news prompted front-page coverage in USA Today's sports section, marking the first and to date only time an MMA promotion held the lead sports story in the history of USA Today.
In each calendar year of 2011 and 2012, Bellator produced and promoted 25 live and free events on MTV2 & in commercial-free HD on EPIX on Saturday nights.
In 2013, Bellator began broadcasting all its events on the largest and most successful broadcaster in MMA history, Spike TV, with live events airing every Thursday at 10/9pm CT. The television alliance also includes a reality show featuring Bellator talent, Bellator 360 highlight shows and other shoulder programing.