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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ford Signs Exclusive Marketing Program With Bellator Fighting Championships And ESPN Deportes

-- Bellator Fighting Championships

Mixed Martial Arts Series on ESPN Deportes Marks Ford's First-Ever MMA Alliance

LOS ANGELES, Mar 11, 2009 -- Bellator Fighting Championships and ESPN Deportes announced today a sponsorship agreement with Ford Motor Company. The agreement names Ford as the exclusive sponsor in the automotive category for Bellator Fighting Championships, a 12-episode mixed martial arts (MMA) series set to premiere on ESPN Deportes April 4th. Bellator is the first nationally televised mixed martial arts league focusing on the United States’ prolific Latino market.

Ford’s long-standing position as an automotive leader, coupled with consistently serving the Latino market, has provided it with well-established roots in this powerful market. Ford’s sponsorship of Bellator Fighting Championships will further enforce the company’s commitment to reaching this consumer base, through the fastest growing sport in the United States today - mixed martial arts. The deal marks Ford’s first foray into this exciting, consumer-friendly sport.

Mixed martial arts is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. with a very strong Latino fan base. In fact, Nielsen research shows that Latino’s over-index on viewership of MMA programming. Bellator is the only company tailoring their promotion for this audience at the national level and we are thrilled to be the first and exclusive automotive partner. “Bellator’s unprecedented access to Latino MMA fans makes them an invaluable partner for Ford, since the innovativeness of our products mirrors each other,” said Dave Rodriguez, Manager of Multicultural Marketing at Ford. “We are also thrilled to be working with ESPN Deportes to reach Hispanic sports fans via the brand’s multimedia touch points.”

Ford’s sponsorship represents a fully integrated alliance across multiple platforms. As part of the agreement, Ford ads will get prominent placement on ESPN Deportes’ coverage of the Bellator Fighting Championships. Ford will also air a SportsCenter segment dedicated to Bellator titled “Serie de Campeones Highlight” to update viewers on the results of each night and congratulating each winner and “El Camino a la Victoria” vignettes which will chronicle the path that each world-class fighter must take in route to the championship. In addition to extensive on-air coverage through prominent cage signage, the multi-faceted, season-long sponsorship includes an online and mobile component that will bring Bellator Fighting Championships to life on ESPNdeportes.com on a microsite that will be fully dedicated to covering the championship, and on ESPN Deportes Movil’s Mixed Martial Arts section. In addition to the exposure on ESPN Deportes platforms, the deal includes athlete appearances at Ford dealerships in key markets to be determined by Ford, automotive display and consumer interactive sweepstakes.

“Ford’s position of quality and strength as well as their commitment to exceeding consumer expectations make them the ideal partner for Bellator,” said Bjorn Rebney, Bellator Fighting Championships CEO. “Ford clearly understands the importance of the Latino market and the significance of delivering for their consumer base, a philosophy which we at Bellator intend to mirror for years to come.”

“We’re thrilled that a premier brand such as Ford has joined us for the debut of mixed martial arts on ESPN Deportes,” said Lino Garcia, general manager, ESPN Deportes. “Mixed Martial Arts is becoming increasingly popular among Hispanics. Our coverage of Bellator Fighting Championships is an extremely valuable marketing vehicle for Ford to target the fastest growing segment of the population.”

Bellator’s strong commitment to the Latino market is demonstrated by a substantial percentage of its star fighters speaking Spanish and coming from Latino heritage. Bellator’s nationally televised events will feature a combination of tournament and non-tournament special feature bouts. There will be four simultaneous tournaments taking place in season #1 over a three month period: one in each of the Featherweight (145 lb.), Lightweight (155 lb.), Welterweight (170 lb.) and Middleweight (185 lb.) divisions. Bellator’s debut event will be held in Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida on April 3, 2009. The event will air during prime time on April 4 on ESPN Deportes, and then every Saturday night thereafter for 12 weeks.

For more information about Bellator Fighting Championships, visit www.bellator.com. A Spanish version of the website, www.Espanol.Bellator.com, will be launching in March 2009.