Spike TV Teams With Bellator for Planned MMA Reality Series

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney (Matt Erickson/HeavyMMA)

New show planned for 2013 debut

Bellator Fighting Championships will move to the Spike TV cable network in 2013, and along with that move a new mixed martial arts-based reality series is being planned.

Spike and Bellator announced Tuesday in a press release that a one-hour original series is in the works for next year featuring Bellator fighters. According to the release, just what the show’s premise might be “will be kept closely under wraps until later this year.”

But one detail that brings some promise is that Bertram van Muster is on board to produce the show. His resume features eight Emmy Awards for “The Amazing Race,” arguably the most critically acclaimed reality show in television history.

“Some of the most physically-gifted and fascinating athletes in the world fight in Bellator, and I believe they make ideal subjects for an innovative new non-scripted series,” van Munster said in a statement. He and Elise Doganieri, his co-creator on “The Amazing Race,” will executive produce the new series.

Spike TV was the cable home for Bellator’s main competition, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, from 2005 through last year. After that deal expired, the UFC moved its programming to the Fox family with a seven-year network deal on Fox, plus its FX and Fuel TV cable networks. Spike still retains rights to UFC programming that originally aired on the channel through the end of this year, after which time Bellator is expected to shift from MTV 2 to Spike. Both channels are owned by Viacom.

Spike, of course, was the longtime home of the UFC’s groundbreaking reality series “The Ultimate Fighter” for 14 seasons. That show moved to FX for its current season in a new partially live format.

Bellator CEO and founder Bjorn Rebney said having van Muster on board is big for the promotion.

“We are thrilled to partner with an industry legend such as van Munster, whose creativity and ingenuity will help expose Bellator to an expanded new audience next year on Spike,” Rebney said.

And Sharon Levy, Spike TV’s executive vice president of original programming, teased to an attempt to pick up not just MMA viewers, but general reality show viewers, too.

“The concept of this groundbreaking new series will broadly appeal to not only mixed martial arts fans, but to reality show enthusiasts, as well,” Levy said.

Spike TV is available in nearly 100 million homes, but is in a holding pattern with Bellator for now while the promotion airs cards in its weekly format on MTV 2. Spike.com does air some preliminary card fights through a live stream. Bellator last month started its sixth season with a featherweight title fight not far from its Chicago home base in Hammond, Ind. On that show, Pat Curran took the 145-pound title from then-champion Joe Warren with a third-round knockout.

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