LOS ANGELES (AP) -- While the UFC makes its network television debut on Fox this week, a smaller mixed martial arts promotion is also getting millions of new viewers.
Bellator Fighting Championships has agreed to a five-year deal with FremantleMedia Enterprises to sell its MMA programming around the world, adding a global reach to its domestic niche on networks owned by Viacom, which also owns a majority stake in the promotion.
Bellator has been in business for less than three years, but its rapid growth underlines MMA's burgeoning worldwide popularity. The Chicago-based promotion airs its weekly fight cards on MTV2, and it will replace the UFC on Spike TV in 2013.
The UFC agreed this summer to a comprehensive seven-year deal with Fox Sports, including four annual prime-time network shows beginning Saturday night.