MMA promotion Bellator is seeking to strengthen its footprint in the UK, announcing a partnership with broadcaster Channel 5.
The deal, which will see its European fight series televised live on free-to-air terrestrial TV in 2019, means the broadcaster will hold exclusive rights to a minimum of at least six UK and European-based Bellator events.
With such an exciting roster of talent currently signed to Bellator, only Channel 5 viewers will be able to see the home-grown talent compete on UK and Irish soil over the coming months, including the likes of Fabian Edwards, Terry Brazier, Chris Bungard and James Gallagher.
The first televised instalment of Bellator’s exclusive European fight series will air live on Channel 5 at 10 p.m, this Saturday with Bellator Newcastle: Pitbull vs. Scope.
Former U.K. lightweight champion Ryan Scope makes his Bellator debut in a highly-anticipated main event against perennial title contender Patricky “Pitbull,” while former Geordie Shore reality TV star-turned-mixed martial artist Aaron Chalmers looks to remain undefeated against Corey Browning in a lightweight co-main event.
The addition of live MMA action builds on Channel 5’s sports portfolio, which now includes Boxing, England Cricket, World Rally Championship and Premiership Rugby.
Paul Dunthorne, COO, EVP, UK, Northern & Eastern Europe, Channel 5 Viacom International Media Networks said: “Mixed Martial Arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and Bellator are leading the way in the UK with their European Fight Series in 2019.
“We are partnering with an exciting brand and it is great news for our viewers who will be able to watch some of the biggest names in the sport compete live on free to air TV. Bellator brings the very best fight cards to Europe and we are excited to be able to bring our viewers closer to all of the drama and excitement that we know it will deliver.
Dunthorne added: “It’s great news that MMA fans in the UK will be able to watch all of the action live from the European Fight Series, starting with Bellator Newcastle next weekend.”
David Green, Head of Bellator Europe said: “We are delighted to bring UK fight fans the very best MMA action live on free-to-air terrestrial TV, where it will be seen by the biggest TV audience, bringing viewers closer to the action than ever before.
“Channel 5 is the perfect platform for us to expand the popularity and customer reach of MMA in the UK and I believe they are a great match for our brand. They already have an engaged audience who are committed to the sport and that dedicated fanbase will help us grow here in the UK as we continue to create household names.
“Bellator athletes are among the most talented and exciting in the world and we look forward to seeing the partnership with Channel 5 develop over the next 12 months.”
He added: “Bellator Newcastle is stacked with great fights and our relationship with Channel 5 will give even more fans a taste of the excitement and incredible skills on display on fight night. One thing I can promise fight fans tuning in on the night, is fireworks from start to finish.”