Bellator MMA; A New Order A New Level

By Patrick Courtois
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Photo courtesy of Bellator MMA

With the advent of Scott Coker to BellatorMMA as president, a new spirit of forward thinking, rejuvenation and adventurist optimism has evolved.

Formerly owner, founder and CEO of Strikeforce, the mixed martial arts promotion he founded in 1985, Scott Coker was able to build an exciting competitive brand, showcasing some of the world’s best talent. Along the way he developed a knack for discovering and nurturing future talent, that would go on to mesmerize and turn the world of combat sports on its head. The names Cyborg, Rousey, Cormier, Tate and Carano should come to mind.

However, the highly competitive world of MMA would soon come knocking on Coker’s door. It came in the form of an offer to sell. The buyer? None other than the big dog, the UFC.

Having previously bought Japan’s Pride promotion, World Extreme Cage Fighting (WEC) and Elite XC, the UFC decided to make Coker “an offer he couldn’t refuse”. By January 1, 2013, the deed was done.

With the absorption of all those promotions complete, the UFC promptly dissolved them. Simple business 101. “Hold your friends close, hold your enemies closer.” Eliminate your competition and create your own “blue ocean”.

2011, founder and CEO of Bellator MMA Bjorn Rebney, sells a majority controlling interest of his promotion to media giant, VIACOM. Three years later on June 18, 2014, Bellator MMA brass would prompt the exit of Bjorn Rebney and promulgate a new era with Scott Coker as president.

Bellator MMA’s foray into WMMA commenced with a Strawweight 115 pound division on October 28, 2010. Fights were routinely introduced as part of the roster to great fan appeal and zeal. But for reasons not fully known and to the dismay of many, the promotion decided to pass on further developing the division. Later, it would take a pass on the women’s side of the sport as a whole.

On August 2013, Bjorn Rebney announced the complete dissolution of a women’s division from the promotion. As such, the remaining fighters on the roster which included such notables as Felice Herrig, Jessica Aguilar, Jessica Eye, Megumi Fujii and others, were released from their contracts. Bellator MMA was now only a men’s promotion.

Fast forward to 2014. With a new directive to build a strong, viable women’s division, Coker strategically opts to push forward with a powerhouse 145 pound featherweight class. This division will feature amongst others, former Strikeforce alumnae, Marloes Coenen, Julia Budd and possibly Cyborg if she decides to make the jump from Invicta FC. Carano features highly in this grand design if speculation about her negotiations with Bellator MMA prove true and a deal is struck.

So as not to obfuscate his intent, Coker espouses further.

“We’re incredibly excited to bring in two of the best athletes competing in our sport today—Coenen and Budd. We are making a commitment to bring back the female division to Bellator MMA and feature some of the world’s best in the Bellator cage.”

With the history that exists between these fighters, the new more lucrative and ever expanding and promising opportunities. We can expect some exciting fights in the next few years from Bellator MMA.

Cyborg is on a collision course with Rousey. This is an inevitability which cannot be derailed. Asking when it will happen is akin to trying to forecast the “big one”. The tectonic quake which will send half of California into the Atlantic. It’s not a matter of if it will happen but when. Currently the plan for Cyborg seems to be continued decimation of the competition at Invitca FC. Then eventually attempting that elusive drop to Bantamweight and making a play for RRR in the UFC.

Coenen (21-6), is ranked #2 Featherweight in the world. Her resume includes an impressive 12 submissions in the first round.

In her words.

“After fighting professionally for over 15 years, I am honored to be invited into the Bellator cage,” Coenen said. “Fighting for Bellator brings my spirit back for fighting! It is great to be working together with Scott Coker again as we both have the same vision on fighting. My style is fighting with the objective to knock my opponent out or to submit her. That is exactly what I am planning to do the very first second I step into the Bellator cage.”

Budd (6-2) is the #3 Featherweight in the world and comes to MMA via Muay Thai. Business is handled without shying away from vicious knees and kicks to the body. She crossed paths early on with Carano on the kickboxing circuit. She duly handed Carano her first loss at that discipline. For Budd that victory would later be tempered by a little known up and coming athlete of the time. One Ronda Rousey, who while working her way up the ranks destroyed Budd in 2011 via, what else? Arm bar, in under 40 seconds. Vegas was the scene of the devastation. Budd did go on to distinguish herself with conviction fighting at Invicta FC. She now stands at 4-0.

“I’m ecstatic about the opportunity that Bellator is giving the 145 female division and I’m especially excited to be one of the first females to fight for Scott Coker under the Bellator banner,” Budd said. “This gives me the opportunity to showcase my skills as one of the best fighters in the world on one of the biggest stages in the world.”

Watch for these two warriors on an upcoming Bellator MMA fight card, by year’s end.

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