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Bellator MMA made changes Friday after learning Tito Ortiz is unfit to fight Quinton Jackson on Nov. 2 in the main event of what was expected to be the promotion's first pay-per-view offering.
During a conference call Friday afternoon, Bellator MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney announced the promotion will feature the card from Long Beach, Calif., at no cost on Spike TV.
The Bellator lightweight title fight rematch between Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez was moved to the headlining spot. The pair previously clashed in 2011, producing an epic encounter that is regarded as being among the best bouts in recent years. Also on the bill are a featherweight title fight between champion Pat Curran and Daniel Straus, and an interim light heavyweight contest pitting Emanuel Newton against Mo Lawal.
"We hope that Tito is OK and we look forward to seeing that in the future," Spike TV president Kevin Kay said. "But in the meantime, this is an opportunity for all the fans to get a tremendous night of fights. We're excited to have it."
The broadcast commences at 9 p.m. ET, following two hours of preliminary action on Spike.com.
Rebney said Ortiz suffered a fractured neck in the past 48 hours that caused him "intense" pain. The former UFC light heavyweight champion was less than two weeks from making his Bellator debut when his brittle neck, which has required surgery in the past, failed on him. Rebney did not have details of the cause of the injury but said it was unrelated to Ortiz's previous issues.
"The doctor went as far as to say given the fracture and where it's located, if [Ortiz] were slammed on his head in the wrong way, that conceivably the fracture could cause paralysis," Rebney said. "Tito was still interested in trying to find a way to move forward, which I wasn't in favor of and his doctor wasn't in favor of."
There was no timetable announced for Ortiz's return.
Bellator removed Jackson from the card, and he is expected to fight on a Spike TV card before Thanksgiving, Rebney said.
The decision to shift off pay-per-view and onto Spike TV was made by Rebney and Kay within the past 24 hours. The card had been rumored to suffer from weak ticket sales at the Long Beach Arena, but Rebney said reports of only 2,000 seats sold were "absolutely, completely, untrue. We're far, far above that."
The audience watching at home surely will grow as a result of the move. MMA organizations other than the UFC have struggled to establish any foothold in the pay-per-view space.
"It's great to have partners like Spike and [majority owner] Viacom where if something falls out, we have the right kind of model and right kind of financial dynamic where we can turn and say let's give this amazing card to fans for free," Rebney said. "We don't take that tremendous type of hit that someone completely reliant on pay-per-view would take. We'll get into it when we have amazing fights to give and we've got spectacular, premium-level events. That will come."