Bellator officially parts ways with Bjorn Rebney, Tim Danaher; Scott Coker announcement expected soon

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Bjorn Rebney and Bellator have officially parted ways.

Viacom, the parent company of the organization, announced Wednesday morning that Rebney, the founder, chairman and CEO of Bellator, as well as Tim Danaher, president and COO, are leaving the organization effective immediately.

Both Rebney and Danaher were relieved of their duties Tuesday in New York City. Naturally, there was resistance, but there was nothing they could do.

"It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I am leaving the company I founded," Rebney stated in a press release issued by Viacom. "I have great pride in having turned my vision into reality, a thriving business with television distribution to over 140 countries around the world, a partnership with one of the world’s largest entertainment giants and wide array of sponsors, partners and strategic allies all over the globe. This has been a wonderful eight plus years of creation, development and success.  I will miss the courageous, strong and dedicated fighters I have had the pleasure of promoting, and equally, I will miss the incredibly hard working, remarkable team that has become a family for me over the years.

"Viacom and Tim and I differed in our views of the right strategic direction for Bellator, but Tim and I both wish them well."

While not mentioned in the release, former Strikeforce founder and CEO Scott Coker will replace Rebney as the head of the organization. An official announcement on Coker's hiring is expected to be made very soon.

"I would like to thank Bjorn and Tim on behalf of Spike and Viacom for their dedication and hard work building Bellator from the ground up," Spike TV president Kevin Kay stated. "They worked tirelessly in getting Bellator to where it is today.  They were great partners to work with and we wish them all the best," said Kevin Kay, Spike TV.

Viacom purchased a majority stake of Bellator in late 2011 after the UFC signed a new seven-year broadcast deal with the FOX Broadcasting Company. Bellator debuted on Spike TV, which is owned by Viacom, in early Jan. 2013.

According to a Bellator press kit, Rebney, a former boxing promoter, "spent all his savings and put a second, then a third mortgage on his house" to launch the fight promotion seven years ago, however, it was only when Connecticut-based hedge fund Plainfield Asset Management decided to invest in "the mid-tens of millions" that the promotion was officially born in 2008. The organization's first event was held on April 3, 2009.

With Rebney leading the way as the face of the promotion, Bellator's first season aired on ESPN Deportes. The promotion later moved to FOX Sports Net, MTV2 and finally Spike TV. When the media giant Viacom purchased a majority stake of the company in Oct. 2011, Rebney was part of the deal. Danaher, the former VP of Plainfield Asset Management, who spearheaded the initial move to invest in the company six years ago, left to become Bellator president in 2010.

Bellator's next event -- its 122nd -- is scheduled for July 25.

For more on this story, click here.

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