According to an article Friday on ProMMAInsider.com, just a week before Bellator was to hold its first ever pay-per-view event, Tito Ortiz, one of the main event participants, had to pull out of his fight with a neck injury.
Bellator held a conference call on Friday afternoon to address the injury, and to give fans some positive news. Although the pay-per-view has been canceled, the rest of the card has been moved over to Spike TV, where it will air for free on Saturday night.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and Spike TV's Kevin Kay took part in the call, and made the move to Spike TV official.
"I've got bad news, and I've got great news," said Rebney. "The bad news is that I can confirm that Tito has fractured his neck and will be unable to fight next Saturday. His doctors confirm that fighting with Tito right now could have dire consequences, so Tito is off the card and our thoughts and prayers are with him and what we hope will be a great and full recovery.
"The great is that I've got, because I've got the greatest partners on earth at Spike and Viacom like Kevin Kay and people like Wade Davis, we're going to give Chandler-Alvarez II for the lightweight title, [Muhammad] Lawal versus [Emanuel] Newton II for the light heavyweight interim world title, [Pat] Curran versus [Daniel] Strauss II for the featherweight world title, and a bevy of other really great fights, all to the best MMA fans on earth, for free on Spike TV, Saturday night at 9 o'clock Eastern time."
Additionally, Bjorn Rebney stated that the "Fight Master" finale between Mike Bronzoulis and Joe Riggs would be moved to the main card, and also take place on a televised portion of the event along with the Cheick Kongo and Vinicius Queiroz heavyweight tilt.
Rebney said that Bellator had considered the potential of an Ortiz-Jackson cancellation, and had spoken with light heavyweight champion Attila Vegh about being a possible alternate. That was several weeks ago, but instead they decided to give the card to the fans for free on Spike TV.
"We will do pay-per-views--there will be pay-per-views under the Bellator banner, but sitting down literally for the last 24 hours and talking to Kevin and the entire team over at Spike and my whole team, it just made sense to keep this literally where is right now, to give fans these great fights for free."
Rebney indicated he was not sure how long Ortiz would be sidelined for, and that it would be at least six months before they can even discuss the return. He also said that they would look to get Rampage another fight as quickly as possible.
"On the rampage front, literally as quickly as possible," he said. "Obviously there have been a lot of moving parts with Kevin and I and the team and Spike and Bellator and everybody working together to put this magical show on Spike TV for free, but don't think that we're not thinking about Rampage and we are hopefully going to be in a position in the next week to make some great announcements on that as well."
It was also noted that those literary purchase the pay-per-view would receive a complete refund. The card was already under fire in some quarters for a main event that pitted two fighters seemingly no longer at the top of their games. Additionally, it has been reported that ticket sales are sluggish at best.