Former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney was shown the door this past June (2014) by Viacom Inc., BMMA’s owner, and replaced with former Strikeforce founder and CEO, Scott Coker.
Since joining the brand, Coker has been relatively quiet, and aside from an open letter to “Bellator Nation” stating that he wants to take BMMA to “new heights” and become the “first-choice destination for the best fighters in the world,” the new promotion’s head has been absent from the MMA stage.
Recently, the question was put to UFC President Dana White as to whether or not he was concerned about Coker joining BMMA and whether or not he felt betrayed by his former Zuffa employee working for his (White’s) competition.
In responding, White stated that he was unconcerned with Coker’s presence at Bellator, and principally because he doesn’t see BMMA as a threat to his business. Beyond that, White stated that he had “nothing negative” to say about Coker.
However, in considering Coker’s stated plans, and assuming that he has Viacom’s backing to move forward with them, White might be ill advised to consider BMMA a non-threat.
Coker has been brought in by Viacom to do a job and that job isn’t to sit around and play second fiddle to the UFC. And where BMMA might not be a threat to the senior circuit now, they might prove so further down the road.
Already, some evidence of that is apparent, first and foremost of which would be BMMA lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez’s manager stating that his fighter would now be considering his options with the promotion, as opposed to simply jumping ship for the UFC when his contract runs out.
As it stands, the UFC doesn’t have much to worry about from Bellator or any other MMA promotion for that matter. However, if Coker can convince fighters like Eddie Alvarez and welterweight champion Douglas Lima to stay with the organization, and can bolster their ranks with fresh upcoming talent, as opposed to constantly pushing UFC cast-offs, that, in combination with their new non-tournament format, could well put BMMA on the road to challenging the UFC in the years to come.
Video courtesy of MMA Weekly