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Posted by Sergio Non

The live TV home for Bellator Fighting Championships will be a network that aims right at the heartof mixed martial arts’ core demographic.

MTV2 and Bellator signed a three-year deal, the companies announced Tuesday. The companion network to MTV will carry live broadcasts of two Bellator seasons annually, starting in March with the promotion’s Season 4.

Moving to MTV2 puts Bellator in almost 80 million homes, about 82% of the reach for Spike TV, which carries the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“You’re not talking about a substantially different number of homes that can be reached,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney told USA TODAY. “This is a major, major cable network, reaching the vast majority of homes across the entire country. It’s not as though there’s anything niche about it.”

The move also means Bellator’s events will air live nationwide for the first time. Affiliates of its previous network, FSN, occasionally pre-empted Bellator programming in certain markets.

Rebney pointed to MTV2’s audience composition as a a key factor in signing with the network.

“If you’re a horse, you go where the hay is,” Rebney said. “This is a partnership for the next three years that is perfectly targeted at those people who are already watching our programming.”

Mixed martial arts typically scores its highest ratings among men 18 to 34 and 18 to 49. Describing itself as “man’s best friend,” MTV2 says its audience features higher proportion of males aged 12 to 24 and 12 to 34 than any other network.

The network’s primetime programming includes re-runs of shows such as Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory and Rob and Big.

MTV2’s understanding of mixed martial arts’ business and marketing needs made signing with the network an easy decision, Rebney said.

“You can’t just throw the programming up and hope that it sticks,” Rebney said. “You have to have a dedicated advertising sales team that understands the sales of fighting sports. … Mixed martial arts programming hits a spectacularly desirable demo for advertisers dead center, but if you don’t know how to reach them; if you don’t know how to package it correctly, it doesn’t matter who you’re reaching.”

Bellator plans to run two 12-episode seasons, each with tournaments in four weight classes. Season 4 will feature featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and light-heavyweight tournaments, Rebney said. It will also feature a long-delayed title fight between champion Eddie Alvarez and Pat Curran, winner of Bellator’s Season 2 lightweight tournament.

The promotion will also have three “special events,” one each in June, July and August, featuring title fights and superfights. There might be one tournament across the special-event shows, Rebney said.

FSN’s Bellator seasons featured shows on Thursdays. The live broadcast day under the new contract will be announced later.

Bellator these days is on “extremely stable footing” financially because of the “magical new deal” with MTV2, along with wider international distribution and new alliances that bring in guaranteed annual revenue, Rebney said.

“I’m extremely proud of how quickly we’ve reached the position of cash-flow even and cash-flow positive balances,” Rebney said. “I couldn’t be more happy with where we are as a company.”