Now only did Bellator wrap up the 2014 Summer Series this past Friday night in Southern California, the organization also finished up the final fight card put together by the previous leadership of Bjorn Rebney.
Jason Floyd – The MMA Report
The Bellator 122 fight card was a card that was put together by Rebney and his talent development team, not Coker.
I noted this on Twitter last week as the Bellator 122 card was announced on June 16th and Coker was named President of Bellator on the following day.
This past Friday night’s card was headline by two tournament finals, along with the semifinals of the Summer Series light heavyweight tournament. It’s likely that the winner of the light heavyweight tournament final between Liam McGeary and Kelly Anundson will be the last tournament final to take place in the new Bellator under the leadership of Coker. He has already gone on record that the promotion is heading to a more traditional format of putting on fights, instead of the tournament based format that the promotion has been producing since the first Bellator show in 2009.
In the introduction of Coker as Bellator President on June 17th, Coker made the statement that this will be Bellator 2.0. However, I feel that it’s more like Bellator 3.0. From my perspective, Bellator 1.0 was the start of the promotion until Viacom bought a majority interest, Bellator 2.0 was from when Viacom purchased a majority interest in the company until the day that the media company decided to part ways with Rebney and the promotion President Tim Danaher.
Tomorrow will mark the sixth week that Coker has been on the job at Bellator and there is definitely more interest in the promotion now then when Rebney was the leader. As someone that probably covers Bellator more than any other reporter, I can tell you that I get more questions about Bellator now than I ever did when Rebney was running the company.
One of the most popular questions I received from the fans is what will the new Bellator look like? At this time, Coker is not doing interviews so it’s hard to give a good answer on how the promotion will look six months from now. They made two signings last week as they brought back Paul Daley and signed Melvin Manhoef. If Daley can get a visa to enter the United States, it should be a good signing and the Manhoef signing will likely lead to what some people may consider “fun” fights. It would not surprise me if Manhoef’s first fight in Bellator is against Doug Marshall and I think most people would consider that a “fun” fight and would likely end up in someone walking away with a knockout victory.
In the past, Bellator had to use the tournament format to make the fights they wanted. For instance, they had to use the tournament format to make Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. In the new Bellator, they will just make the fight instead of making the fighters go through a four or eight man tournament.
I believe that by the end of the year, we will have a good feeling for the direction of Bellator under Coker. Maybe we end up seeing more former UFC fighters enter the promotion. They could get back to their roots and sign unknown prospects and hope they turn into the next Pat Curran or Michael Chandler. It’s likely it will be a combination of those two things and as I had said repeatedly over the last couple of weeks, interesting times lay ahead for the promotion.
The first true Coker fight card in Bellator will take place on September 5th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The complete fight card was announced last week and I will be attending this show in person. From a media point of view, I am interested to see if the Bellator 123 card on September 5th has the feeling of every other Bellator show I have attended or if it will have a different feel, like Bellator 120 did in May.