Bjorn Rebney is a leading worldwide authority on the creation and development of professional sports businesses, leagues, teams and athletes. In 2007, Rebney founded and launched Bellator Fighting Championships which he grew from the concept stage to a premier worldwide sports entertainment brand and ultimately into the 2nd most successful MMA promotion in the sports history. As Bellator Chairman and CEO, he directed worldwide brand development and marketing, domestic and global television distribution, operations, talent procurement, legal, event orchestration and sponsorship.
Bellator’s initial success in the highly competitive Mixed Martial Arts (“MMA”) industry stemmed from Rebney’s vision to develop a highly differentiated business model. A model that created for the first time, real sports competition in fighting sports, through tournament based competition, instead of the antiquated “matchmaking” model that had ruled combat sports (boxing and MMA) since their infancy. While procuring early round financing to launch the business, Rebney simultaneously negotiated and contracted domestic television distribution for the company’s first season with ESPN Desportes. He followed up the successful launch on ESPN by securing domestic distribution for seasons 2 and 3 through NBC, Fox Sports Network, Telemundo & Mun2. This large scale distribution alliance led to an alliance with MTV2 (a Viacom owned network) and the sale of a majority stake in his company to Viacom and then culminated in Rebney structuring a long-term partnership with Spike TV.
Rebney developed and oversaw an elite team of close to 100 employees (including seasonal event employees) who worked hand-in-hand with him to build the business. Rebney negotiated and secured exclusive long-term promotional agreements with hundreds of fighters throughout the world; solicited, secured and then orchestrated large-scale sponsorship alliances with Miller Brewing, Dave & Busters, Victory Motorcycles, Monster Energy, The Army National Guard, Everlast and many others; developed and contracted tens of millions of dollars in international television distribution alliances to over 140 countries worldwide, including Fox Sports Latin America, Russia 2, OSN in the Mena region; and, procured multi-year live event venue alliances with many of the world’s top casinos, including Mohegan Sun, Caesars, Winstar and over 40 additional casinos and venues.
From 2009 to 2014, in addition to serving as Bellator’s Chairman and CEO, Rebney also executive produced every televised Bellator event. Rebney executive produced over 120 nationally and internationally televised Bellator events, establishing him in an elite group of accomplished and experienced executive producers in sports television during that period. His events on Spike TV in 2013 – 2014 generated ratings breakthroughs every season, and set records for MMA televised event audiences on cable television in 2013.
In May 2014, Rebney created, developed and executive produced Bellator’s first Pay-Per-View event. The event generated a six figure buy rate with US consumers and was the most successful non-UFC MMA Pay-Per-View event in Pay-Per-View history.
Rebney initiated, structured and contracted the sale of a majority stake in his company to Viacom in 2011, coupled with securing a long-term domestic television distribution alliance with Viacom’s Spike TV. In June 2014, with Bellator established as the second largest Mixed Martial Arts brand in the history of the sport and with substantially differing views with Bellator’s majority owner (Viacom) of what direction the company should follow, Rebney sold his remaining shares in Bellator to Viacom and exited the company.
A California native, Rebney is a volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation generating financial contributions for the charity. He was a full scholarship athlete (football) at Ohio University, where he received several scholar athlete awards throughout his collegiate career as well as his Sports Business Master’s degree. Rebney has his Juris Doctorate from McGeorge School of Law and is licensed to practice in California. Rebney, his wife and two children live in Southern California.