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Scott Coker believes Bellator roster will ‘really blossom’ in 2019

MMA Press Conference Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Bellator MMA is always jockeying for position alongside fellow mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions like Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), ONE Championship, World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and so forth.

Not only does Bellator have to manage to sign high-profile free agents like Fedor Emelianenko, Rory MacDonald, Chael Sonnen, Ryan Bader, Gegard Mousasi, and Jon Fitch (just to name a few), but the growing MMA outlet must evolve its own home-grown talent. Considering the success of prospects on the rise like Aaron Pico, James Gallagher, A.J. McKee, Joey Davis, and even Adam Borics, it’s safe to say Bellator is managing its future well.

Add to the mix top-flight champions and former titleholders like Rory MacDonald, Michael Chandler, Patricio Freire, Darrion Caldwell, and Rafael Carvalho, and you have a pretty damn good roster.

It’s one that Bellator president Scott Coker believes will really come into its own in the coming years.

“We’ve had just had so many great fights, I think in the last 18 months, and it’s just gonna continue on,” Coker told MMAjunkie last week.

“If you look at the roster now, it’s something I’m very proud of,” Coker continued. “But, give us another 18 months – not 18 months. Maybe another year, that’s when you’ll see Aaron Pico really flourish out. AJ McKee, James Gallagher, the Fortunes… These are the future of the company, and I think you’re gonna see them really blossom in the next year.”

With arguably the most firepower in company history, Bellator is finally able to piece together complete fight cards that rival the top heavy television events that UFC keeps dishing out. The Viacom-led company has done pretty well for itself and will continue to sink its teeth deep into the combat market.

“Ratings are tricky, because you’re going to go through peaks and valleys,” Coker said. “The Fedor fight obviously did amazing; the (Quinton) ‘Rampage’ (Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen) fight did amazing. But it’s no different than pro wrestling was for the last 15 years. It’s going to go (up and down). This is the type of business that has that type of fluctuation. We’re not going to be immune to that. We’re just going to be part of that process.

“When you talk about combat sports in the middle of NBA Finals and hockey and all this sports clutter, we’re doing well.”

Bellator is clearly on the rise with all of the acquisitions they’ve made over the past two years. The current Heavyweight World Grand Prix tournament wasn’t a bad idea either, especially considering the promotion was able to finally give fight fans a fun-filled clash between heavyweight legends Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir.

There’s no arguing that Bellator’s stock continues to rise. But by being in direct competition with UFC, the company may never get its fair shake.

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