Bellator CEO Scott Coker is a man on a mission as he looks to take the Bellator promotion to new heights in 2015 and he’s boldly claimed that no free agent, no matter how big of a star they are, is out of their reach if it comes down to a bidding war.
“There’s not going to be a fighter on the planet we can’t afford and have access to,” Coker tells MMAFighting.com, and with media giant Viacom holding a controlling interest the promotion that’s no idle boast.
Coker’s already found some success moving the needle with well known fighters in the Bellator cage on Spike TV since taking the reigns from Bjorn Rebney in the summer, with the heavily promoted Tito Ortiz Vs Stephan Bonnar clash at Bellator 131 averaging 1.2 million viewers and peaking with an impressive audience of 2 million.
So who does he have in mind now as he looks to further bolster the promotion’s star power?
Well, Coker says Bellator have already reached out to Brock Lesnar and while he admits there hasn’t been any serious discussions so far, “when the time comes to have serious dialogue, we’ll be right there.”
Meanwhile, Coker says he’s ready to put out the feelers regarding the possibility of Fedor Emelianenko coming out of retirement, a fighter who he knows well from his time at Strikeforce.
“I’m going to the New Year’s Eve show in Japan, so I’ll be over there and I’ll be talking to him and seeing if there’s any interest,” Coker said, though he admits that he’s heard “mixed signals” about the heavyweight legends interest in getting back in the cage.
Another former Strikeforce star, Gina Carano, is also mentioned, though it appears that Coker has came up against the same difficulties in securing her signature as the UFC did, with her current movie schedule (which includes four films in 2015) making it difficult to find time for fighting.
There’s a sense that Coker is playing the game here – keeping Bellator’s name in the news with talk by name-dropping fighters that undoubtedly move the needle – but his track record with Strikeforce, where at one point he also had the likes of Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson under contract, shows that it’s not all just hot air.
With Viacom behind him and Spike TV still able to punch above it’s weight in the TV ratings at times, he’s never been in a better position to give the UFC a run for their money – if not internationally, then at least in the domestic market.
If nothing else Bellator has the potential to be a thorn in the UFC’s flesh if they continue to offer serious bids for the open markets top talents.