It was announced yesterday that Bellator Fighting Championship founder and CEO, Bjorn Rebney as well as President and COO Tim Danaher have stepped down effective immediately from their roles with the company. This is huge news for the MMA world.
While Bellator has never been friendly with the UFC, the ‘beef’ was mainly between UFC President Dana White and Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. These two had Twitter quarrels, spoke negatively about each other to the media and Dana White went as far as calling Bjorn Rebney; “Bjork”. The two spirited promoters never backed down from controversy with each other and created a new rivalry in the MMA world. Now it appears that rivalry will be dead as Bjorn Rebney is no longer part of Bellator.
Fighters and managers took to Twitter yesterday to voice their opinion of Rebney’s departure.
Eddie Alvarez who had one of the most publicized contract disputes with Bjorn and Bellator tweeted this yesterday, “Regardless of what went on ,it was Fun building this company w You @BjornRebney Good luck in Your future endeavors brother !”
Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima tweeted this yesterday, “Best of luck @BjornRebney! Was great working with you!”
Bellator fighter Paul Bradley had this to say, “@BjornRebney couldn’t believe what I seeing this morning. It’s was a pleasure working for you boss. Best of luck in whatever you do.”
Bellator released an official announcement that Rebney’s replacement would be former Strikeforce President Scott Coker.
Coker launched Strikeforce in 1985 as a kickboxing promotion. Once California legalized the sport in 2005, Coker began promoting MMA in 2006
Strikeforce signed with Showtime in February of 2009 and became the No. 2 MMA promotion behind the UFC. However, in 2011, Zuffa purchased the promotion from its parent company, Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment. Stirkeforce seized operations in 2013 with a majority of its fighters joining the UFC. Once that happened, Coker was no longer in the spotlight and was unheard for quit some time. However, Coker’s non-compete with the UFC expired approximately three months ago and he is now poised to take over Bellator and guide the organization in the right way.
This means a few things for fighters and managers. First, this could lead to Zuffa eventually purchasing Bellator similar to how they purchased Strikeforce. Scott Coker is an excellent promoter and has over 25 years experience promoting combat sports. With the money that the Viacom owned promotion has many believe Coker can turn Bellator around and into a top-tier organization. It should be noted that Coker and Dana White have an excellent relationship and that should have a positive impact on fighters.
Secondly, Bellator may be able to compete with the UFC in terms of attracting fighters with Coker at the helm. Many fighters and managers were turned off by Bellator due in large part to Bjorn Rebney. With him out of the picture, Bellator seems poised to attract more fighters.
The departure of Rebney only means good things for the MMA world and with Coker taking over for Bellator, the organization is moving forward with a President who has lot’s of experience and great relationships with fighters and managers. This is a great move for Bellator and it will be exciting to see what changes Scott Coker makes to Bellator.