As the weeks turned to months, Bellator was waiting for the right time to strike. The promotion has been out of action since February when they were in Dublin. Now, they are looking to return with a bang, and then some.
Recently, Scott Coker and Bellator announced that the promotion would be returning on July 24 inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. This came after earlier reports of soundstage fights in the lots of Paramount or CBS. Given the green light, Coker was able to secure a location that has been considered home to them, one that has helped produce the best safety procedures.
“We’re governed by a group that’s a public company, and of course they will be extremely cautious, as they should, in going back to production not just for Bellator, but also for all their other productions,” Coker stated to MMA Junkie. “They’re going to have their own protocols and systems in place. We were actually talking to about four or five commissioners around the country and looking at hosting at different venues. But at the end of the day the Mike Mazzulli (president of the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation) scenario played out in a really nice bubble.
“Once we get there, you don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t have to leave the area. Once you’re there, you’re in the fightsphere. It’s a turnkey operation and Mazzulli and the Mohegan Sun have made it very good for us.”
During the week the coronavirus pandemic started to take a turn in the United States, Bellator had to postpone Bellator 241. Other fight nights leading up to June 6 ended up getting postponed. The “fightsphere” comes at a time when the UFC is using “Fight Island” to host events, while Top Rank is hosting events in the “Bubble” in Las Vegas.
Bellator’s return card will feature Sergio Pettis v. Ricky Bandejas in the main event of Bellator 242. Coker sees this time back as a return to planet earth and told The Telegraph’s Gareth A. Davies that the Mohegan Sun Arena could end up being a permanent (for now) home for Bellator. It would join Premier Boxing Champions, which is planning to host events in the arena as well.
“We’re going to go on the 24th July, August 7 and the 14 and September 11,” said Coker. “Showtime Boxing will do five dates in between our dates. It’ll be a combat sports center. Which is a good thing because no one has to leave.”
“To be honest we might be there for the next few months. I don’t see any place in this country or the planet allowing big gatherings. We might be at the Mohegan Sun at least until the end of the year. I don’t see it changing.”
Coker went on to say that besides the young talent that will be booked, like Aaron Pico, top fighters will also be at future events. That includes Bellator Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader and Bellator Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg.