What We Learned About Bellator 120 – On Tito’s Upset, Will Brooks’ Title Win, Rampage’s Hometown Decision and More

Bellator’s PPV production was plagued with a lot of the same problems that its television shows have been: pacing and shenanigans. Bellator’s debut on PPV wasn’t all that rancid, as it had a fairly solid buildup and tons of finishes up and down the card. But it was also poorly paced and ran over the allotted three hour slot with three finishes on the main card leading up to the co-main and main events.

It was a wild, bizarre night that has introduced a whole bunch of new MMA memes at a bare minimum. Bjorn Rebney was the object of some ire, two of the biggest upsets of 2014 actually happened and this somehow managed to be a thrilling and engrossing card while also being insanely long, boring and full of moments that make me question my fandom.

Now it’s time to figure out What We Learned.

PPV pacing and TV pacing are two different beasts – The UFC rightfully gets crapped all over for poorly pacing events regularly but Bellator’s show was so profoundly poor paced that it stood out. The fact that it went over, time wise, despite having three early finishes on the main card was something you’d never see in a UFC event. At a minimum they always have 10-15 minutes or so once the main event is concluded to show highlights, etc. Bellator’s pacing and a lot of the time fillers combined with their overage of time showed that they were prepping for a TV event, where going over is ok, as opposed to PPV where you have to get it in that 180 minute window.

King Mo earns a gold star for the week – King Mo’s hilarious pair of interviews on Spike TV before the PPV broadcast was about as illuminating as he gets. Every time Frank Shamrock interviewed him on the PPV it was nothing but shots at Bellator, Rampage Jackson and Bjorn Rebney. And he won that fight as Quinton Jackson got a hometown decision … but boy oh boy did he lose his mind afterwards. His rant at Bjorn Rebney, with Quinton just wanting a rematch for some unknown reason instead of a title fight with Emmanuel Newton, made for a bizarre end to a bizarre night.

Tito Ortiz with the upset of the year … for about an hour – No one bet on Tito to win or even to make it close and he got the submission win. There’s something special when Tito Ortiz does a gravedigger to celebrate a finish win and the MMA world is better off for it. Ortiz’s win was profoundly unexpected and would’ve been upset of the year, month, whatever, on any other night. And then Will Brooks pulled off a split decision win that nearly everyone who mattered scored a draw (47-47) or to Michael Chandler.

Tito pulled off something that’s kind of hard to describe. Yeah Shlemenko is a small middleweight and looked frightened as soon as the fight went to the ground, of course, but Tito’s win was something no one expected or predicted. Well, outside of Phil Baroni.

Eddie Alvarez could potentially leave Bellator completely screwed – What’s the worst possible scenario for Bellator right now? Eddie Alvarez defeats Will Brooks in his final contractually guaranteed fight and walks into the UFC with the Bellator title and wins over Brooks & Chandler upon his exit. Two guys who’ll be fighting for the title upon his exit to greener pastures could essentially be fighting for the “Eddie Alvarez Memorial Title” if he exits with victories over them both.

Alvarez is now in the ultimate pole position in MMA. He can walk from Bellator with one more fight under his belt, with a title, and leave Bellator looking second rate after his exit.

Bellator just destroyed any brand power they’ll have Alexander Shlemenko – One downside of Tito’s upset is that now Alexander Shlemenko can’t be promoted as heavy as they had before. Beforehand Rebney has spoken of his Russian champion as a Top Five middleweight, et al, and the response now from anyone when that’s mentioned is that an old, washed up light heavyweight who hadn’t won a relevant fight in nearly three years and hadn’t won more than one in a row since 2006. And Shlemenko looked awful, too, so this was perhaps the worst possible situation for Bellator. One of their young, signature champions was made to look terrible by someone who was 0-3 in his prior three fights (and finished badly in two of them).

Tito may be surgically healed, et al, but right now he’s at the dusk of his career. Not the dawn. Anytime Bjorn promotes him as being an elite middleweight the natural response is that he lost to Tito. That’s a bell that can’t be unrung unless he lights up a legit top five fighter in the division.

Michael Chandler’s future is up in the air as the trilogy fight is done – Eddie’s probably leaving after his fight with Brooks to unify the titles. So right now we, as fans, are going to be robbed of a trilogy fight unless Chandler winds up in the UFC in the future. Right now Chandler is the golden boy, the one whom they’re hyping en masse, and just lost what was supposed to be a gimme fight for him. The trilogy fight was the sole reason they wanted it on PPV and a Chandler win here makes it feel bigger. The trilogy fight is one that could’ve been a game changer on PPV. Now … now Brooks vs. Alvarez is a good fight but the conclusion to the greatest in cage rivalry in MMA history is now near guaranteed to not happen unless it’s in a UFC cage.

Chandler now is in a position that even if he manages to win the Bellator title again he’ll always be second fiddle to Eddie Alvarez. They were 1-1 in fights and a third fight would’ve been definitive and lucrative for the two. Now … now Chandler’s next shot at a Bellator title is going to come on Spike TV on a Friday night in a much less heralded manner.

The buyrate on this event is going to be worse than we think – One of the perks of being in charge of this website is that I get all sorts of access to analytics, et al. Usually I can figure out what the buyrate for any card will be based off of things like analytics, keywords and traffic. And traffic for Bellator, which is never massive in the first place (hence why we don’t cover it en masse like most other web sites), was low even by their standards.

My guess is that it hits somewhere around 35k or so. Web traffic for a fight we didn’t cover, Alvarado/Marquez, did nearly as much as one we actively covered.

Frank Shamrock is a worse interviewer than announcer – Frank Shamrock is a genuine legend of MMA and a trailblazer of the sport. But because you were a great fighter doesn’t mean it translates to the booth. And Shamrock’s generic awfulness in the three man Strikeforce booth can only be reinforced by how awful his backstage interviews were. I understand why he’s there, as having a fighter in the back usually means you get better questions, but Shamrock made most people yearn for the nuanced and intellectual styling of Heidi Androl.

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