Hello, Mr. Coker? I have Vadim Finkelchtein on line one...
Former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was named president of Bellator MMA earlier this week, after the Viacom-owned promotion ousted longtime head cheese Bjorn Rebney over creative differences, among other things, as part of a restructuring of its Spike TV-televised mixed martial arts (MMA) brand.
Also known as Bellator 2.0.
Coker was a part of the organization's media conference call on Wednesday (June 18, 2014) to map out his vision of the future (listen to the replay here), one that starts with scrapping the existing tournament format which not only requires a weekly output, but a recurring season.
Not for long (via MMA Fighting).
"My plan is to go from a tournament format to a more traditional format, to more of a super fight format. We will do tournaments when the situation makes sense. I think a tournament can make sense, but it has to be the right time and the fighters have to be right. The mission is to showcase the best and most exciting MMA fighters in the world and a have a place where advertisers will be proud to be along with us."
Strikeforce was known for its "super fights" and was also no stranger to the grand prix model.
In addition to scrapping the tournament format, Coker was also open to the idea of co-promoting, something he's familiar with, thanks to relationships with other promotions under his old umbrella that included DREAM and M-1 Global, often borrowing international stars like Shinya Aoki and Fedor Emelianenko.
Something he's not ruling out for the future.
"If we can put a fight together that makes sense and that can move the needle on Spike TV, we're going to do it. Some of the fighters we had in the past we didn't have ownership of. The job is very clear, it is to put the big fights on Spike TV and move the needle as best as we can."
That starts at home.
Coker does have a couple of top names already at his disposal, including former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson. "Rampage," however, was not exactly overjoyed at the news of Rebney's departure.
The sooner Coker can make that call, the better.
"I did read the comments. I know we'll be reaching out to his management and having conversations in the very near future. Quinton has been a legend in the sport and we'd like to work out the kinks in that deal and whatever the issues are, and I'm sure we'll be able to do that."
This guy might need a call, as well.
Until all the pieces start falling into place, Bellator is moving forward with its July 25 show on Spike TV (more on that here), and for now, is expected to pick up again on Sept. 5 with its Friday night fights. How long that schedule lasts under the "reboot" remains to be seen.
Probably because the promotion is entering a rebuilding phase.
"I look at the MMA industry now, and there's a lot of fights out there. I'll tell you what, when we were starting Strikeforce, you had Pride, the IFL, Affliction, Elite XC, there was a lot of product out there. I don't think that's a bad thing. It comes down to the fighters, and that's what we're going to develop, world class fighters and put those fights on TV. We had a great platform with Showtime. The platform here is in three or four times as many homes. This is a star building business. It's not just about the league, it's about building stars and making fights that you want to see, building fights that move the needle. Not all fighters move the needle, and we'll do the best to move the needle for the network."
Welcome to Bellator 2.0 ... you ready?