September 14, 2018

Joe Rogan Is Right To Hope For Competition In the Form of Bellator MMA

By Raphael Garcia

Competition is the basis for any sport. In MMA, men and women step into a cage with the goal of walking out as the better competitor, be it in that fight or over the course of their respective careers. Competition in the business world is a little different -- it allows consumers to reap the benefits of better products, and workers to leverage the competition between employers into better compensation or benefits. With those principles in mind, UFC commentator Joe Rogan is spot on in his desire to see Bellator MMA to be a real competitor to the UFC.

Speaking on his prominent podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,,” the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt spoke openly about the idea of Bellator becoming a competitor to the UFC in the future:

“I like [the resurgence of Bellator]. I like that the fighters are having a good time over there. They get paid well. I want it to grow. I want it to be right up there with the UFC. I would love it if it was a full rival like PRIDE was.”

These statements come on the heels of the news that Bellator has booked an event in Hawaii, beating the UFC to perhaps the last untapped bastion of MMA within the United States. While many regional shows have been held on the island, neither of the big promotions have run a show there -– until now. Bellator women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, a Hawaii native, will be defending her title against Valerie Letourneau. Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida will also make his promotional debut, against former Bellator middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho.

The fact that the two fights announced for this show feature two names associated with Octagon competition speaks to the point that Rogan highlights. In recent years, many fighters have jumped from the UFC to Bellator, for a variety of reasons. Those names include Benson Henderson, Josh Thomson, Lorenz Larkin, Ryan Bader, Roy Nelson, and Rory MacDonald, just to name a handful. Bader and MacDonald have made the most out of their time in Bellator, earning championships and opportunities that eluded them in the UFC.

Even though he’s been with the biggest promotion in the sport since 1997, Rogan understands the value of the UFC having a real rival in the sports world:

“I love that Rory MacDonald’s over there. He’s the champ. If he’s not the best welterweight in the world, it’s him and Tyron [Woodley]. He’s most certainly one of the best. [Gegard] Mousasi is one of the best 185ers in the world, if not the best. They have legit claim to world-class fighters now in at least two weight classes.”

While many hate to compare MMA and professional wrestling, there is a parallel that can be drawn between the competition between UFC and Bellator and what happened during the height of the "Monday Night Wars" between the then-WWF and WCW. This was a "boom" period in professional wrestling that led to some of the most well-liked shows, storylines, and characters in the history of sports entertainment, many of which are still loved today. Along with that, the wrestlers themselves were able to leverage the battle between those two companies into massive contracts that helped build their earning power. The relative lack of financial strength and power that fighters wield have been a major talking point in MMA discourse, but if Bellator emerged as a real challenger to the UFC, there’s a strong chance that fighters may see some slow, but positive, benefits in both areas.

Competition often brings out the best in both people and companies. Joe Rogan is a respected analyst in the world of MMA, and seeing him come out on the side of competition for the UFC shows exactly how important it is. While it’s too soon to say whether or not Bellator MMA can become a true competitor, the organization is currently the best bet for fighters and fans who are invested in seeing the emergence of real competition for the UFC.



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