Scott Coker’s presence since taking over the reigns as President of Bellator MMA earlier this year has quickly left its mark on the organization. With the promotion now moving away from weekly broadcasts of its tournaments into a monthly card designed to showcase stronger talent, the company is now moving forward as it continues its climb toward global popularity. New initiatives include: a live show on Spike TV once every month on Friday nights with three or four additional shows on the network that will feature its top matchups in a super card.
Ahead of its big Nov. 15 show in San Diego, which will feature the likes of Tito Ortiz/Stephan Bonnar and Will Brooks/Michael Chandler, Cynopsis Sports spoke with Coker about his vision for the organization, the new setup and whether he would ever work with another promotion on a co-branded event.
Coker on taking the job: Spike TV and I started talking right after my non-compete expired with the UFC. We had a couple of meetings and I felt like where they wanted to go was where I wanted to go. There’s a lot of synergy between how Spike TV President Kevin Kay and I see this working. I was heading in another direction with a different media company but Kevin swayed me over.
On initial goals: To evaluate the talent, evaluate the staff and the whole operation as well as evaluate what we can do to make this promotion better. The first thing was the tournament format, which as attractive as it may seem in the beginning, can be eliminated because you aren’t going to put on the fights that the fans want to see all the time. You are stuck with the bracket system. The fighters who I wanted to see face each other ended up not fighting each other. So, although I think there is a space and time for tournaments in martial arts, I just felt like this was our time to put on big super fights.
On super fight cards: I always felt like cards should be an event. When you start doing fights every week, you are kind of watering down the product and becoming like a Friday Night Fights. I wanted to take a step back, start growing the roster and put on big, monthly shows instead of smaller weekly shows. When you think about next year, we are going to do a monthly series and we are going to do four big, tentpole events with all of our superstars. You’ll see some big differences on what Bellator has done in the past on Nov. 15 in San Diego.
On the biggest lesson learned at Strikeforce: Be careful who your partners are. When you have a partner that wants to go one way and you want to do something else, it can become difficult.
On working with another promotion: My philosophy has always been, ‘Let’s keep the door open.’ If it is something where someone wants to work with us and it makes sense, than let’s do it. One of my proudest moments was when I was at Strikeforce and we worked with a company called Pride in Japan. We had a nice relationship with them and I am very proud of that.