Uncasville, Conn.-- Bellator MMA and its president, Scott Coker, have come under heavy criticism recently after booking Kimbo Slice for their upcoming Bellator 158 card in London, England, which takes place at O2 Arena on July 16, 2016. Slice, real name Kevin Ferguson, is set to face James Thompson in a rematch from their Elite XC bout that took place in 2008, where Slice won the bout by technical knockout.
The issue that fans and media are having with the booking of Slice, is that he failed a post-fight drug test following his technical knockout victory over Dada 5000 at Bellator 149 this past February. Slice, 42, tested positive for Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. Since the fight took place in Houston, Texas, it falls under The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, which handed down a 90-day suspension to Slice. Three months is hardly a punishment in most eyes in comparison to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which would hand down a much harsher punishment, as would the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which now works in conjunction with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Several media members have suggested that Bellator MMA follow UFC's lead and dole out its own punishment since the TDLR is offering such a light punishment to Slice. Coker is of the mind that the promotion is best suited to let the commissions do the regulating, no matter that the difference in punishment varies from state to state.
"To me it is so simple," said Coker. "Greg [Alvarez], the commissioner there, said he [Slice] has 90 days. So, it's not longer than 90 days and that is it. In Texas, it is a really tricky rule. In fact, Mazzulli [Mike Mazzulli, the president of Association of Boxing Commission and Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulations Director] was saying to me and telling Rich [Chou] today he is going to work with Greg and they are going to change the rule because the rule is 90 days in Texas and one year outside of Texas. So guys, for 31 years that's what we've been following is athletic commission ruling. Listen, when Marc Ratner was in Nevada and I was doing K-1 in Nevada he said, 'Look, this referee is on suspension he can't do it for a year.' Well, hey guess what referee? You are out for a year. Or he said this guy is this you have to test this guy.' Whatever the commission says we abide by the rules. We don't make the rules we just follow by the rules."
Coker pointed out that when former Bellator MMA Middleweight champion, Alexander Shlemenko was suspended for three years by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) after a failed test last June, they accepted that, just like they accept Slice only getting 90 days.
"When Shlemenko was in California and he got three years, we didn't complain," Coker said. "We didn't say anything. We just said, 'hey this is what it is.' You look at the … I want to say inconsistencies in every state and we've had to deal with this for 31 years of my career we've had to deal with this. This is just how it is and when Greg says 90 days for Kimbo and he is good to fight, then he is good to fight. So he is going to fight."
Coker said he'd love to see rulings not be so inconsistent from state to state, but made it clear he does not think a promotion should get involved in regulation at all.
"I will say this, when you are self regulated I don't think it works because to me you are the judge, jury and the executioner?" he asked rhetorically. "To me that is never going to be a good situation. It's a conflict of interest. So, It's either go that way or to abide by the commissions and we've chosen to got with what the commissions say."
"They are the governing body that regulates the sport and we should let them regulate the sport," he continued. "And let me tell you, California is tough. We've been in states where they are tough and they are tough on our guys and you know what? We never complain. We never say anything. In 31 years that is just how it is. This one seems a little controversial because it's just the 90 days and then a one year. To me it makes it a little more controversial. We've been in touch with Greg and he said we are good to go so we are going to go."