DAZN inked a five-year deal with Bellator in June 2018. However, it appears according to sources with knowledge of the situation, the streaming service isn’t likely to continue its relationship with the mixed martial arts organization.
*- the initially reported contract length said two years when the deal is actually for 5 years between Bellator and DAZN.
I reached out to Bellator, but no official comment was offered. However, the Bellator rep did say, the promotion and DAZN have a great relationship.
Still, a separation wouldn’t be a major surprise as it has seemingly been difficult for Bellator to positively impact DAZN’s bottom line which is rooted in securing subscriptions to its monthly streaming service.
At the moment, DAZN’s primary draw is Matchroom Boxing, led by exclusive rights to WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, and Golden Boy Promotions’ Canelo Alvarez. Matchroom has recently added more value with its YouTuber celebrity fights featuring the likes of Jake Paul, Logan Paul, and KSI.
DAZN and Combate Americas, another MMA organization, had a distribution deal, but the latter signed with AXS TV in 2019.
Combat sports remain the biggest benefit of a subscription to the service.
However, if and when DAZN’s relationship with Bellator ends, the streaming service is said to be interested in filling the void with another brand of combat sports. There aren’t a lot of MMA products that would be looking for another distribution partner, but there are other options.
DAZN could be interested in a deal with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. BKFC has been growing rapidly since it was founded in April 2018, just two months before DAZN and Bellator.
In a little over two years, led by President David Feldman, BKFC has established a noteworthy footprint in the combat sports world. On YouTube, BKFC has already accumulated 376,000 subscribers and has regularly trended on social media during the weekends of its biggest events.
The promotion has produced promising numbers despite its youth in the pay-per-view. Might it be even more attractive as part of a subscription service?
BKFC was recently at the center of a news story related to Mike Tyson. The company offered Tyson $20 million to come out of retirement and to compete against someone of his choosing who is currently on the BKFC roster. Speculation circulated that Shannon Briggs, Hector Lombard, and Bobby Gunn as possible opponents for Tyson under the BKFC label. If Tyson, was unwilling to fight, Feldman left the door open for the two sides to work together in another capacity.
Without Tyson in the fold, BKFC is an interesting option for DAZN. If Feldman and Co. were able to lock in the all-time great, it would seemingly make a deal between DAZN and BKFC all the more interesting–even if Tyson’s commitment was a short one.
Currently, BKFC has big names like Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, and Briggs under contract. There’s also bare-knuckle favorites like Jason Knight, Artem Lobov and others. The potential link between BKFC and DAZN is mostly speculation, but it makes sense. However, expect other networks to potentially be interested in BKFC if its growth continues.
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