With MMA's big 2013 television-schedule shuffle rapidly approaching, Bellator Fighting Championships has apparently played its first card.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has confirmed with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board that Bellator has reserved Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall for Thursday, Jan. 10.
Bellator officials were not immediately available for comment, but sources close to the promotion suggested that event will serve as Bellator 85 and mark the company's debut on Spike TV.
"The Jan. 10 has already been formally requested and officially reserved for Bellator in Atlantic City," NJSACB Counsel Nick Lembo told MMAjunkie.com.
Officials have already been assigned for the evening, and as an interesting side note, recently retired UFC veteran Tom DeBlass is expected to serve as a shadow judge.
Spike TV officials would not confirm the plans and would only suggest that the network is "exploring many different options right now." However, additional sources indicated the network is leaning toward a 10 p.m. ET slot, which would allow Spike TV to use TNA Impact Wrestling (which also employs Bellator light heavyweight contender Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal) as lead-in programming for the MMA promotion's weekly events.
Bellator is currently in the middle of its seventh season, the final one on MTV2 before the organization moves to the higher-rated Spike TV, the former home of the UFC, next year. The promotion is currently earning an average of 168,700 viewers per Season 7 event, but that figure is expected to rise when the promotion moved to Spike TV, which has been a primary destination for MMA fans since the 2006 debut of "The Ultimate FighterLINK