Coker Addresses Bellator 192 Main Event
Bellator boss, Scott Coker appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour to discuss some of the controversy regarding the change in main event at Saturday’s Bellator 192 event.
FIGHT SPORTS reported last week that a World Heavyweight Grand Prix opening round bout between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Chael Sonnen has been granted the main event slot over a welterweight title clash between champion Douglas Lima and former UFC star Rory MacDonald.
This is the second straight fight featuring Sonnen will go on last over a championship fight. Last June at Bellator NYC, Sonnen’s grudge match with Wanderlei Silva headlined the show, instead of any of a trio of title fights on the Pay-Per-View card.
In defending the decision, Coker laid the blame on the Paramount Network.
“I think that you guys assumed that (the Lima-MacDonald) fight was going to be last and it could have went either way, but there’s a lot of people that do a lot of, I want to say analytics and things like that up at Viacom and it came down to me that (‘Rampage’-Sonnen) should be the last fight, so when TV says this is what they want, then that’s what they get,” Coker explained.
Another decision that claims that came from the network and not his hands, was the departure of Jimmy Smith. The longtime Bellator color commentator parted ways with the promotion in December and is set to join the UFC broadcasting team this year.
“It was a network decision,” Coker said.
“When we were (running the Strikeforce promotion) with Showtime, I didn’t ask, ‘Could so-and-so be a commentator or a play-by-play guy?’ It was like hey, here’s the team. TV traditionally handles the broadcast part of that and I’m happy that they do. It’s something that they’re very good at and they felt that they wanted to move forward in another direction and that’s what they did.”
At the moment, Coker is looking to make a splash when Bellator debuts on the newly branded Paramount Network, and dismissed rumors that putting the Sonnen-Jackson fight on last was an attempt to push ticket sales. Coker claims that Bellator 192 has sold more tickets than Bellator 170 from January 2017, which featured Sonnen facing Tito Ortiz.
Another issue Coker addressed was the scheduling of Bellator 192 on the same night as UFC 220.
“I think if you look at our past history, we have traditionally done I want to say 80 percent of our shows on Friday night and we’re happy to do shows on Friday night, it’s just that we have a business to run, they have a business to run and this is a fight that just happens to conflict,” Coker said.
“We didn’t know when we booked the date that they had a pay-per-view date. We just said, ‘Hey, this is the date that’s only available that’s open for Paramount and it’s the launch of the network, it has to be on this weekend, and the venue was available and the venue happens to be in California, which we’re not going to go on a Friday night in California, which would be a terrible mistake (due to traffic).”
“So we said let’s go on Saturday night and then it ended up going head-to-head, but that wasn’t something that was planned. We’re not that company where we’re going to be targeting different events. We’re just going to go do our own thing, run our own business, and this one just happened to have a conflict.”