Scott Coker aiming for the return of MMA to CBS

The first event on CBS for Scott Coker’s Strikeforce took place on November 7, 2009; headlined by Fedor Emelianenko knocking out Brett Rogers, it was a notable success, doing a 2.5 rating, and was particularly strong with the younger male demographic that television was, and still is, finding so hard to reach.

Expectations were high for the second show on CBS, and Strikeforce stepped up with three title fights: 
Dan Henderson vs. Jake Shields for the middleweight belt; 
Gegard Mousasi vs. King Mo Lawal for the light heavyweight belt; and,
Gil Melendez vs. Shinya Aoki for the lightweight belt. 

Unfortunately, none of the fights were casual-fan-friendly, at all. It was 15 rounds of Aoki doing nothing, King Mo taking down Mousasi, and a gassed Hendo being taken down by Shields at will. Oh, and by the way, it took place in Nashville … where a brawl broke out between Jason Miller and prominent members of Team Cesar Gracie, including Nick and Nate Diaz, and Melendez.

Commentator Gus Johnson then infamously blurted out, “Sometimes these things happen in MMA.”

MMA on CBS had enormous, game-changing potential. And it was over. Legendary media magnate 
Sumner Redstone personally determined there would be no more MMA on CBS.

“For that to happen with our champions, it gave the sport a black eye,” said Coker now many years ago.”… that was one of my biggest regrets.”

However, Coker, now the president of Bellator MMA, spoke recently with the great Damon Martin for MMA Fighting and said he was in talks with executives at parent company ViacomCBS about expanding onto different networks, including the return of MMA to CBS.

“Listen you know what, that would all be music to my ears,” said Coker. “We’re talking to the networks everyday. We’ll hit them back up at the beginning of the year. This is a very big company and now that it’s back merged together, it’s my job to go back there and keep trying to gain more real estate. That’s probably the best word. Keep growing this brand.

“Eventually getting on CBS is definitely a goal of ours and having events on Showtime would be amazing. That’s definitely a goal of ours. Everything is up in the air right now but I think we’ll have some clarity in the next probably two weeks to four weeks we’ll probably have some clarity on exactly what direction we’re going to head.”

“When we were on the entertainment side of Viacom the options were very limited. We were on Spike and we were on Paramount and I’m not sure there was a fit on the other side of the fence.

“But now that the companies have merged, now I see Paramount Plus as definitely an option for us. Showtime, that was my original home when I was with Strikeforce. I have a great relationship with those guys. A lot of good things ahead. A lot of options.”

“I do feel like streaming, when you talk about streaming and Paramount Plus, I do think what you’ve seen in the success and the growth on say the Pluto channel or the YouTube channel, I think there’s a really big audience for MMA online. I think that’s where our fans like to hang out and watch their content.

“It’s a changing world, it’s evolving. I think there’s got to be when you talk about linear television and the streaming services, there has to be a balance moving into the future for us. Because there’s going to be fans on both sides of that fence but we definitely want to make sure we take care of our whole audience.”

So huge things hopefully lie ahead. Coker also spoke recently with Mike Bohn for MMA Junkie and talked about the promotion’s return in 2021.

“We’ll probably still produce our 22 to 26 events,” said Coker. “That’s what we’re thinking in the ballpark, then some fights in Europe as things open up. That’s kind of the thought process.”

“As far as starting, we’re probably thinking sometime in February. We haven’t locked a date down yet, but that’s probably what we’re thinking in February to launch with our first fight of 2021.”

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