UFC Vs Bellator: 5 Key Differences Explained!

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You’ve been aware of the UFC for as long as it’s been a popular sport. Still, as you become further invested in the MMA world, you’ll begin to notice mentions of other fight promotions, like Bellator, and are probably wondering what the difference is and which is better than the other.

Both UFC and Bellator are fight promotions for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). They both share similar rule sets for competition but have fighters unique to their roster. Fighters can usually only sign with one promotion at a time, and the UFC is considered the best quality of fighters.

If you want to learn more about the differences between these two promotions in more detail, keep reading this article as I answer all of your questions.

You might also want to know the key differences between UFC vs MMA, which is covered in another article.

What Is The Difference Between UFC And Bellator?

UFC and Bellator are MMA promotions based in the USA. However, both can travel internationally for shows across Europe and the Middle East. In terms of people watching during an event, the UFC often reaches over 3 million viewers, whereas Bellator usually reaches 1 million viewers.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was one of the pioneers of modern MMA as it originated with its first event in 1993. At that time, there were only a handful of mixed martial arts promotions and mainly in Asia.

The UFC was founded by several people, all of whom had a stake or passion in the business and progression of mixed martial arts:

  • Art Davie
  • Bob Meyrowitz
  • Campbell McLaren
  • David Isaacs
  • John Milius
  • Rorion Gracie

In 2001, the current president of the UFC, Dana White, encouraged his friend Lorenzo Fertitta to buy the company when he heard of an impending sale. He’s been the president ever since and even when the company ownership has swapped hands once again.

The rules for MMA were still lacking much structure or safety concerns at the time. In the early UFC events, fighters were punching the groin of their opponents or kicking them while grounded. The minimum rule set changed drastically over the years, especially with the long-awaited introduction of The Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts in 2009.

Bellator MMA began much later than the UFC. It was founded in 2008 by Bjorn Rebney and held its first event in 2009. In 2014, Scott Coker took the role of president of Bellator.

Overall, Bellator is thought of as the second-best MMA competition in the USA. Perhaps even in the world, depending on your perspective.

Many fighters that work their way up the ranks in Bellator can get noticed by the UFC and end up signing for them instead.

The opposite is common, whereby fighters who might have lost interest from the fanbase or have a less-than-perfect record might be let go by the UFC and sign with Bellator.

Fans have even said that “Bellator gives us the fights we wanted to see 10 years ago.”

A bit harsh, but it is often true because you can see once-huge-name fighters who are past their prime go head-to-head with another in the same boat. The kinds of fighters that were once in the UFC simultaneously, but a fight never came to be for whatever reason. Usually, scheduling, injuries, rankings, and title fights can change the matchups we get to see.

While some consider Bellator to be the younger brother of the UFC, it did initially offer some unique differences to spice up the fight game.

Bellator ran its fights in a tournament-style from its beginning in 2009 up until 2014. After eleven seasons of eight-man and four-man tournaments, they hung up the gloves on this format when its founder, Bjorn Rebney, stepped down as CEO.

Nowadays, Bellator follows the same formats of other MMA promotions like the UFC with single matchups between two fighters and scheduled in advance. Tournaments remain something used in sole-martial art competitions like Kickboxing.

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Does UFC Own Bellator?

The UFC does not own Bellator and has never been connected. They exist as two different fight promotions in the USA. 

Does Bellator Pay More Than The UFC?

Bellator doesn’t pay more than the UFC, but it can depend on each fighter’s status to how much they can earn. Bellator can pay as low as $1,500 for a preliminary fighter on a card. The UFC has a minimum $12,000 payout for any fighter on their card.

For example, Yoel Romero was paid $150,000 by Bellator for his appearance at Bellator 266. On that same card, Jonathan Adams was paid just $1,500.

I’ve already analyzed how much UFC fighters make. The median (more accurate than an average for most fighters) that fighters make is $52,000, including base pay, win and performance bonuses, and sponsorships.

A lot of journalists have continued to push the UFC about the amount they pay their fighters, a lawsuit against them showed that they only paid the fighters, on average, 19.6% of event revenue.

Bellator isn’t more popular than the UFC, as the UFC is much broader known in the world of sports (thanks to fighters like Conor McGregor) and typically secures double, or more, viewership than Bellator can on any MMA event.

Most people who have any fundamental interest in sports will know what the UFC is as it’s reported on in sports media often and talked about almost anywhere on Earth.

The UFC is so popular that people often get confused between UFC and MMA, thinking they are the same thing or meaning.

Is UFC The Best MMA Promotion?

UFC is globally recognized as the best MMA promotion because of the high level of its fighters. Only the very best in the world are given contracts with the UFC. It is unlikely for fighters of a similar skill to be fighting in a different competition.

The UFC has an incredibly large roster of fighters, with the active fighters constantly changing every week.

Some fighters have come into the UFC from Bellator and had moderate-to-good success and its usually previous Bellator champions, like Michael Chandler, a three-time Lightweight Champion at Bellator.

On the flip side, some fighters have also left the UFC at specific career points and moved to Bellator, like Yoel Romero.

Some fighters, like Romero, have enough brand to carry them into other promotions to continue earning good paychecks until they want to retire.

You should now have a good idea about the main differences between UFC Vs Bellator. You’ll understand why UFC is typically considered the highest level of mixed martial arts in the USA and the world.

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