Bellator MMA President Scott Coker appeared on Tuesday’s edition of the MMA Hour and this interview had some gems in it. Down below are highlights from the interview.
“We had talked about it, honestly, but we never reached out to him or made that call. We were not in dialogue with him by any means. It was just like, ‘He’s never had a fight before. You think he really wants to fight?’ I didn’t even know if he really, really wanted to fight, so let’s see. Let’s see how he does in his debut.”
…and Alberto del Rio:
“I’m not sure. From everything I understand, he’s still pro wrestling and he’s very busy pro wrestling. Even though he’s had some great MMA fights – he fought a couple of big names – at the end of the day, it’s a different sport completely.”
“To me, I know that they’re still in dialogue, but is he going to become a MMA fighter? That I cannot answer.”
Currently, Punk is signed to a multi-fight deal with the UFC and will debut sometime this year.
When asked his thoughts on today’s free agent market in MMA today, Coker said:
“There’s going to be free agent who come up time to time. It’s going to be our job to build these fighters from the ground up that we have, and keep building them and keep building them. What a great platform we have with Spike TV to keep building these new stars.”
“It kinda reminds me of Strikeforce, really. We bought a few free agents. It’s not just us going after them. Believe me, they’re calling us. This is not a one-way street where we’re just going after fighters. We’re going to win some. We’re going to lose some. That’s just how the nature of this beast is going to be.”
“If you’re a free agent out there or you’re going to become a free agent, you’re going to talk to everybody. You’re going to want to use your leverage to get the best deal you can. We’re in a position now with the Viacom ownership group, there’s not going to be any fighter that’s out of the price range.”
“If we feel the deal’s right and the fighter’s right, we’re going to do it.”
Coker recently visited Japan to scout talent and possible deals for Bellator MMA.
“To see K-1 in its heyday, to see PRIDE in its heyday, I think the new fans today are really missing out because it was something special, something spectacular. They just had that ‘wow’ factor.”
“I think anyone who can promote a fight on New Year’s Eve and sell tickets and actually have people show up and then throw a fight the night before and then a boxing match the night before and then a kickboxing fight – a new show called Blade – the night before that…I mean, here’s a country that’s, the word I would use is sleeping. They’re waiting for the next resurgence of a Japanese MMA promotion.”
While Coker did wonders for Strikeforce and most likely to do the same with Bellator, the idea of Bellator ever being on or near the same level of the UFC is just not realistic. The UFC has and will be the top promotion in the world when it comes to MMA.