In a bit of shocking news this morning, Viacom has removed Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney from his position with the company after eight years at the forefront of their strategy.
Bellator recently aired their first pay-per-view (PPV) event at Bellator 120 on May 17, with numbers that reportedly drew over 100,000 buys, a more-than-solid number given the fact that the event’s headliner, a trilogy match between lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and former champ Michael Chandler, was scrapped due to an Alvarez concussion.
But apparently that wasn’t enough for his employers. Rebney issued a statement today on his abrupt firing (via MMA Mania):
“It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I am leaving the company I founded. I have great pride in having turned my vision into reality, a thriving business with television distribution to over 140 countries around the world, a partnership with one of the world’s largest entertainment giants and wide array of sponsors, partners and strategic allies all over the globe.
This has been a wonderful eight plus years of creation, development and success. I will miss the courageous, strong and dedicated fighters I have had the pleasure of promoting, and equally, I will miss the incredibly hard working, remarkable team that has become a family for me over the years. Viacom and Tim and I differed in our views of the right strategic direction for Bellator, but Tim and I both wish them well.””
Spike TV President Kevin Kay was on hand to give his thanks to Rebney, who founded Bellator in 2007:
“I would like to thank Bjorn and Tim on behalf of Spike and Viacom for their dedication and hard work building Bellator from the ground up. They worked tirelessly in getting Bellator to where it is today. They were great partners to work with and we wish them all the best.”
Kay also confirmed that former Strikeforce head Scott Coker would be taking over for Rebney, adding that Bellator would now be switching from their original tournament model to a more traditional one:
“We are excited to have Scott Coker lead us in a new direction as we evolve the league format from a tournament-based organization to a more traditional model with big fights.”
So with Bellator gaining as much ground as they ever had on the UFC, the man who spearheaded that movement is gone, ironically replaced by a former Zuffa employee in Coker.
What do you think about Rebney’s ousting? Was it time for him to go, or did he have a lot left to accomplish in Bellator?