Coker: Give us a year, new talent will blossom
Bellator MMA has come under criticism for holding fights between talent without legs – Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, Kimbo Slice. However, however true that was in the past, they have now signed world-class fighters in their prime like Rory MacDonald, Ryan Bader, and Gegard Mousasi. And they have older fighters who still have mighty legs, like Fedor Emelianenko and Chael Sonnen. And they have Bellator bred talent like Michael Chandler, Patricio Freire, and Rafael Carvalho who would do fine in the UFC.
And then there’s the future.
“We’ve had just had so many great fights, I think in the last 18 months, and it’s just gonna continue on,” said Coker to MMAjunkie recently, as transcribed by Dan Hiergesell for MMA Mania. “If you look at the roster now, it’s something I’m very proud of. 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.”
Television ratings are down across the industry, and Bellator is no exception.
“Ratings are tricky, because you’re going to go through peaks and valleys,” said Coker to Steven Marrocco and Simon Samano. “The Fedor fight obviously did amazing; the ‘Rampage’ [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.”