Bellator MMA has announced a television deal with Sky Sports that will see the satellite pay-tv broadcaster become the home of US and international Bellator MMA events in the UK and Ireland in 2019.
The news described as a “ground-breaking partnership for MMA in the UK and Ireland,” follows confirmation last week that free-to-air Channel 5 will televise a minimum of six UK and European Bellator events for British and Irish MMA fans.
The further agreement means Sky Sports will screen a minimum of 20 US and international Bellator events live to a UK and Ireland audience, beginning with Bellator 216: MVP vs Daley on Saturday 16th February.
Sky Sports will provide mixed martial arts fans with the only place in the UK and Ireland to watch the Viacom-owned Bellator MMA fight league, as live broadcast airs in the early hours of Sunday morning.
From a British perspective, the main event has been billed as the biggest bout in UK MMA history, as Michael “Venom” Page (MVP) comes up against Paul Daley.
The agreement will also see Sky Sports broadcast Bellator 217 live from Dublin’s 3Arena on Saturday 23rd February.
Both US and international events will air exclusively live on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event.
Commenting on the deal, Scott Croker, Bellator President, said: "This is a ground-breaking partnership for MMA in the UK and Ireland, and we are thrilled to finally bring live Bellator events to our passionate fanbase there.
“We have worked diligently to find the right network in the UK and Sky Sports will undoubtedly deliver for our viewers.
“I'm excited that our fans overseas will now be able to be part of our events that take place around the globe and witness some of the best athletes in the sport today."
Georgie Faulkner, Head of Multi-Sports at Sky Sports, added: “We are delighted to be able to partner with Bellator to give our customers the chance to see some of the best high-octane fighters in the world via their MMA 2019 tour.”
David Green, Head of Bellator Europe, said: "This is a landmark moment and we are extremely excited to be working with Sky Sports to continue introducing the sport, and it's incredibly skilled athletes, to new audiences.”
The news follows confirmation that rival MMA property UFC will continue to be broadcast on BT Sport in the UK and Ireland. The IMG-owned series had looked to set to move to Eleven Sports from the start of the year. But the newcomer platform lost the rights it won by outbidding the incumbent broadcaster when it failed to secure an additional TV carriage deal.
Bellator's 2019 European series got underway at the weekend with Bellator Newcastle: Pitbull vs. Scope, at the city’s Utilita Arena.