At the Bellator 131 press conference, we had a chance to sit down with Bellator MMA president Scott Coker. He was generous enough to take the time to talk with us about the future of the promotion as well as the idea of cross-promotion fights after the initial media panel questioning.
Scifighting: What, if any, plans have been made to cross-promote with a promotion like Glory?
Coker: My philosophy has always been if we can make fights that we all want to see happen, let’s do it. I think that’s really what the philosophy is behind doing fights with other promotions. That started for me in 2006-7 when we sent Gilbert Melendez to Pride. We said “Hey Gilbert, want to go Fight in Japan?” He said yes, so we sent him there and they sent us Aoki. We had a reciprocal going back and forth. We got to see some great fights. Aoki went there, Josh Thomson went there, Gilbert Melendez went there and it was really a fun experience for the fighters. It goes back to what do the fans want to see? And sometimes they say what if this guy fought that guy? We said so what? Let’s put it togther.
We found a way to make it happen and we’ll continue. It’s just right now, I feel like I’ve been here four and a half months and I’m still getting my feet wet. Give us another 6-10 months and we’ll be doing some deals. It’s so much fun. We have good relationships with Glory, good relationships with One FC, good relationships in Japan with all the leagues there. Good relationships with our Polish Friends in KSW so, you’ll see fighters go back and forth.
SF: It seems like taking the cooperative and cross-promotional approach makes an overall better product for MMA.
Coker: Sometimes it almost becomes like an intramural type of a fight. Whereas, if the champion of One FC wanted to fight our champion, we would do it. Let’s do it. Let’s let Bibiano fight Joe Warren. We would definitely do that. Or let Aoki come fight the winner of Will Brooks and Michael Chandler. It took me two months just to learn everybody’s names and it took me two months to promote this fight. I think the future looks bright though.
SF: Bellator 131 is a big event to put together in just 3 1/2 months as president.
Coker: We’ve got some really cool fighters here. Melvin vs. Schilling might be the fight of the night. Brooks vs. Chandler might be the fight of the night. You know what, when I know that they [Bonnar vs. Ortiz] have that kind of animosity toward each other, that could be the fight of the night too. You just never know and that’s the beauty of MMA is that you never know what’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen.
SF: The rematch between Will Brooks and Michael Chandler will be exciting. Will Brooks put on a very impressive performance in Bellator 120 coming in for Eddie Alvarez.
Coker: I said it was the Rocky story. He was Rocky. He got a call a couple weeks out. We said “Can you fight?” He said, “Yeah I’ll do it.” Then he goes on to beat Chandler. To me it was like watching Rocky live. And at that time I was still just a retired martial arts fan. I gave my $59 to the pay-per-view company and watched that fight and I’m looking forward to seeing it live.
Catch Bellator 131 on Spike TV at 9/8C on Spike TV.