• Bellator lends its broadcasting rights to Showtime
  • The MMA promotion will begin airing events exclusively on Showtime beginning April 2
  • Showtime has been broadcasting boxing cards since 1986

Bellator, one of the top-tier mixed martial arts promotions in the United States, took a major step in getting widespread television coverage after partnering with Showtime Sports.

The organization will air live events exclusively on Showtime on Friday nights, and the partnership kicks off with a three-week launch featuring action-packed fights for three consecutive weeks, starting April 2. Moreover, it will continue on April 9 and April 16.

April 2nd will feature the semifinals of the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix, with reigning champion Patricio "Pitbull" Freire facing Emmanuel Sanchez.

On April 9, the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix commences, with Ryan Bader facing Lyoto Machida while Corey Anderson squaring off with Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.

On April 16, the 205-pound tournament continues, with reigning champion Vadim Nemkov battling Phil Davis and Anthony "Rumble" Johnson taking on Yoel Romero

"Everyone in this industry knows the history that I have with Showtime. We have done things together that have shaped the sport of mixed martial arts that you see today," Bellator MMA President Scott Coker said via the official press release. “But what's really exciting about this news is that everything we have already accomplished is just the beginning. Today marks a new era for Bellator MMA.”

Fedor Emelianenko celebrates the victory during the Bellator Japan - Fedor v Rampage at Saitama Super Arena
Fedor Emelianenko celebrates the victory during the Bellator Japan - Fedor v Rampage at Saitama Super Arena Getty Images | Masashi Hara

Bellator was founded in 2008, and the Los Angeles-based MMA outfit has put on a total of 262 cards over the course of its 13-year existence.

In addition, it has been home to a number of the biggest names in the sport, including Cris Cyborg, Ilima Lei-MacFarlane and Douglas Lima.

Showtime, meanwhile, has been one of the leaders in the world of combat sports broadcasting.

Since 1986, the network has been broadcasting world championship boxing fights featuring some of the prominent ring icons, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and many others.

Showtime is also no stranger to MMA, having been home to fan-favorite promotions such as Elite XC, Strikeforce and ShoMMA.