The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Scott Coker, who created and promoted fights under the Strikeforce banner from 1985 to 2013, was officially introduced as the new President of Bellator Fighting Championship during a Wednesday conference call. Coker, Spike TV president Kevin Kay and Spike senior vice president of communications David Schwarz all participated in the call.
Coker assumed the Bellator position on Wednesday after Bellator founder Bjorn Rebney left the company. Coker had been under contract with Zuffa since selling Strikeforce to the UFC owners in 2011, but his deal expired in recent months. Coker said multiple times on the call that Spike TV only recently approached him about taking over the position from Rebney.
Outside of his opening comments, Kay would not comment in-depth on Rebney's departure. He said Bellator would be moving away from the tournament format and toward a more traditional fight league format and hinted that Rebney's vision for the future differed from Viacom's. He said that Coker would be running the day-to-day operations of the company beginning on Wednesday.
"Scott is an incredibly forward-thinking, well-regarded sports executive," Kay said.
Coker said he'd enjoyed seeing parts of the world he always wanted to see during his time off and that his golf game improved, but he ultimately decided that retirement was overrated.
He ultimately revealed no important information about how the company will be structured going forward or if he will bring in team members from his Strikeforce days, but he did say he was pleased with the opportunity to get back into mixed martial arts.
"It's good to team up with Spike and Viacom. I see a lot of potential," he said. "I am thrilled to have opportunity to build a brand and take it to the level we think we can."
Coker and Kay both declined to discuss Bellator's future potential as a pay-per-view company, and Coker noted that his job is to create the best fights possible for Spike TV. Kay did confirm that Bellator pulled around 100,000 pay-per-view buys for their inaugural pay-per-view effort in May.
Coker said he had no idea what will happen with the lightweight triangle between Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler and Will Brooks. "Today is my first day on the job," he said with a laugh. While presenting no real answers during Wednesday's conference call, he did say he would be going in-depth on all the issues presented to him and would have answers soon.
For now, Coker said he hopes to help change some of the opinion swirling around Bellator, both from its fighters and fans watching at home.
"We will be a league that fighters are proud to call home. We'll be a league fans can proudly support."
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