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Bonjour, Bellator: MMA promotion set for major French debut

/ 06:37 AM September 12, 2020

FILE – In this May 12, 2018, file photo, Cheick Kongo celebrates after defeating Javy Ayala in a mixed martial arts fight at Bellator 199 in San Jose, Calif. Bellator is set to hold the first major MMA card in France and it will air on its new programming home, the CBS Sports Network. The Viacom-owned promotion will run the Bellator Paris card on Oct. 10 at Accor Arena in Paris. The fight will feature French native Cheick Kongo against Tim Johnson in a heavyweight clash as the main event. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Bonjour, Bellator!

Bellator is set to hold the first major MMA card in France and the event stacked with 10 French fighters will air on its new programming home, the CBS Sports Network.

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The Viacom-owned promotion will run the Bellator Paris card on Oct. 10 at Accor Arena in Paris. French native Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC) fights Tim Johnson (14-6) in a heavyweight fight in the main event of a show that will allow a limited number of fans in attendance.

France’s Ministry of Sports lifted an MMA ban earlier this year, paving the way for Bellator to make the jump to France.

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“This is a monumental moment in the history of the sport, as well as our organization, and I am honored that Bellator will promote the very first MMA event in France by a major promotion,” Bellator President Scott Coker said.

“Many people have worked tirelessly to bring this to fruition, and it would not have been possible without the support of the Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, as well as the French Kickboxing Federation sanctioning body.”

The show will air on the CBS Sports Network, which will now televise domestic and international Bellator events. Preliminary matchups will stream on CBSSports.com and Bellator MMA’s YouTube channel.

“I look forward to bringing the biggest fights, featuring the top athletes in the world, live to CBS Sports Network and introducing Bellator to an entirely new audience this fall,” Coker said.

Bellator had been a staple on the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) since 2013. Bellator 247 on Oct. 1 from Milan, Italy will kick off the new partnership.

The early highlight of the schedule comes Oct. 15 when champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino (22-2, 1 NC) takes on Australia’s Arlene Blencowe (13-7) at Bellator 249 from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Justino won her first fight for the company in January. Coker, the former Strikeforce boss who aided Justino’s early rise, eagerly added her to his roster of famous fighters who have separated from the UFC for various reasons.

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Bellator is hoping for a long run of lucrative fights from Cyborg, who immediately became one of the most famous fighters and biggest draws on its roster.

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TAGS: Bellator, France, mixed martial art, MMA, pandemic
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