Scott Coker was hired as Bellator MMA’s new Chief Executive Officer last week (June 18, 2014) and with his arrival, Viacom Inc. – BMMA’s owner – swept aside former CEO Bjorn Rebney and his tournament style format, with the intent of replacing it with a more fluid, non-tournament, structure. As Coker noted during a media conference call, tournaments – while good for BMMA’s initial growth – are ill suited to MMA’s year round, no season or schedule, nature.
By way of outreach to Bellator’s fans – “Bellator Nation” as Coker refers to them – and an explanation of his “long term vision” for the franchise, Coker released on Monday (June 27, 2014), as posted on Bellator.com, his "vision" of what BMMA’s fans can expect in the near future.
As Coker lays it out, his plan is to make every event feel “big and special,” to put on “the most entertaining events possible,” and to become the “first-choice destination for the best fighters in the world.” Coker also stated that he wants BMMA events to “showcase the fun side of the sport.”
As Coker tells it, he has spoken to many of the fighters under the promotion’s banner and they all appear to be excited for BMMA’s new change in direction.
However, all of Coker’s changes – particularly becoming the “first-choice destination” of the world’s best fighters – are going to be expensive. And as BMMA Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima noted last week – and he would be one of the world’s best fighters that the promotion isn’t looking to attract, but keep – all of us (the fighters and fans alike) will have to take a “wait and see” approach to Coker’s “long term vision.”
In a nutshell, Coker’s BMMA dreams are predicated on Viacom giving their new CEO the budget to retain fighters such as Douglas Lima and BMMA Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, to mention only two of the fighters the promotion needs to keep, as well as the money to sign a multitude of fighters that are of enough quality to credibly fill out BMMA’s ranks, providing the brand’s champions with serious courts to rule over.
All of these things are possible if Vicom gives Coker the money to accomplish the stated task. However, if they don’t, then the brand will lose star fighters like Lima and Alvarez to the UFC and continue to remain a spawning ground for up-and-coming talent. If this proves to be the case, then in an ironic twist of Coker’s words, Bellator might become the “first-choice” of fighters, however, it won’t be their last.
Scott Coker’s letter:
“Dear Bellator Nation,
I wanted to take a moment and tell you all how excited I am to be a part of the Bellator family. I've been working closely with the incredible team here, along with our partners at Spike to see how we are going to bring this great company to new heights.
My first order of business is to take a look at the Bellator roster and determine all the exciting possibilities that are in store for the future. Our goal is to make every Bellator event feel BIG and special which is a huge win for fighters, advertisers, and of course- and most importantly -- you, the fans. I've been on the phone with dozens of fighters and to hear the excitement in their voices has been incredibly encouraging.
I know there are so many questions about what changes may be in store for Bellator. While we are still very early in the process of executing on our long term vision, the plan is simple. We want to put on the most entertaining events possible for YOU. We want Bellator to be a first-choice destination for the best fighters in the world and we want our events to showcase the fun side of the sport -- the personality and showmanship that makes MMA so entertaining. This is the best sport in the world and we want our events to demonstrate that for all to see.
We've got a ton of work to do, and July 25th is right around the corner. We'll have more updates in the coming weeks, and I can't wait to see all of you on Spike TV and at Pechanga in July.