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Scott Coker reacts to champion Will Brooks' recent criticism of Bellator

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E. Casey Leydon, MMA Fighting

BEVERLY HILLS -- Will Brooks and Bellator MMA seem to be perpetually at odds.

The promotion's lightweight champion criticized Bellator in the fall, because he felt like executives were pushing some of the new talent rather than the guys who have been there. Brooks tweeted last week that he plans on fighting out his contract, which is why he thinks Bellator is not utilizing him properly.

On Thursday, Bellator MMA president Scott Coker told MMA Fighting that he had not seen the tweets. But he's not bothered by the shots.

"This is how it works," Coker said. "Fighters are happy until they're not happy. Right now, he's not happy. That could change. I don't take it personally. It's just part of the business. If he's gonna yap, he's gonna yap. That's just how it is."

Brooks (17-1) is a fantastic talent with eight straight wins. He's held the Bellator title since beating Michael Chandler by split decision in May 2014. But he's been openly critical of management since Coker took over two years ago and has not produced the most exciting fights. Chandler blasted Brooks following the latest slams on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.

"He's the epitome of a bad employee, just constantly trashing the promotion, constantly questioning the decisions people make in it, and constantly, quite frankly, whining," Chandler said. "You know, ‘I'm this, I'm that -- why's he getting this, why's he getting that?'"

Coker was far more diplomatic than Chandler. He said if Brooks wants to fight out his contract and hit the open market, that's his prerogative.

"I think he's a good fighter," Coker said. "I think we'll offer him some more fights and we'll fight him out. Then, we'll see. Free agency is gonna work both ways. Is he a fighter that we would go way out of our way to re-sign? I can't answer that."

Brooks was the co-headliner against Marcin Held at Bellator 145 in November, the promotion's final big, tentpole event of the year. He does not yet have his first fight in 2016 booked. Both Chandler and Josh Thomson, the two most well-known lightweights on the roster, have said publicly that they'd rather fight each other than fight Brooks for the title, because they feel that wouldn't be as big of a fight.

The situation with the 155-pound belt is probably something Coker will have to deal with in the near future, but first he has to worry about Bellator 149 on Feb. 19 in Houston. That card is headlined by MMA legends Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock. Coker said he has not spoken to Brooks recently.

"The only thing on my mind right now is Gracie vs. Shamrock," Coker said.