A timeline in the history of Bellator

Bellator was recently sold to the Professional Fighters League.

Bellator belt
Bellator belt / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

2023 is the last year we saw Bellator as it was. Now that it's been sold to the Professional Fighters League, it will be something different ... though it remains to be seen exactly how the promotion will be run.

“This totally changes the MMA landscape overnight,” founder Donn Davis told the Financial Times when the story broke. “You essentially put two number two companies to create a co-leader. The combined PFL Bellator roster now has 30 per cent of its fighters who are ranked top 25 in the world by Fight Matrix. That’s the same as UFC has in their roster.”

Bellator MMA timeline

2008: Bellator MMA is founded by Bjorn Rebney and was structured as single-elimination tournaments.

Dec. 2011: Paramount Global (formerly Viacom) purchases Bellator from Rebney.

Jan. 2013: Bellator telecasts were moved from MTV2 to Spike

May 17, 2014: Bellator hosts it's first PPV event. Bellator 120 took place at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi and was headlined by Quinton Jackson and "King Mo" Muhammed Lawal The co-main event was Will Brooks vs. Michael Chandler for the Bellator interim lightweight title.

June 2014: Rebney and president Tim Danaher were "relieved" of their positions. Strikeforce founder Scott Coker takes over

Early 2015: Tournaments end, traditional fight cards begin.

April 16, 2016: Bellator Kickboxing 1 held, the first event for the kickboxing wing of Bellator.

2018: Bellator Grand Prix events begin.

June 26, 2018: Bellator starts five-year streaming deal with DAZN.

2020: Deal with DAZN ends due to COVID-19, cards begin airing on CBS Sports.

Feb. 9, 2021: Bellator announces Showtime broadcast deal.

Feb. 2021: Bellator announces officail ranking system

Oct. 2023: Showtime Sports announced it would no longer be airing boxing or MMA as of the end of the year.

Nov. 17, 2023: Final Bellator event airs on Showtime

Nov. 2023: Professional Fighters League announced it's purchased Bellator. Davis announced a "mega event" which will pit Bellator and PFL champions against each other. Location and date to be determined.

At the time of the PFL sale, these were the reigning Bellator champions:

Bellator champions 2023

Heavyweight - Ryan Bader
Light Heavyweight - Vadim Nemkov
Middleweight - Johnny Eblen
Welterweight - Jason Jackson
Lightweight - Usman Nurmagomedov
Featherweight - Patricio Pitbull
Bantamweight - Patchy Mix

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