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Morning Report: Scott Coker calls Bellator NYC ‘the best MMA offering this year’

Scott Coker Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Two years ago, Scott Coker ascended to the top spot of the second-largest MMA promotion, Bellator MMA, and in his two years at the helm, Coker believes the Bellator product is only moving up.

Unlike the UFC, who traffics primarily in pay-per-view sales, Bellator’s product is built around their television deal with Spike TV. But Coker has plans to change all that. Later this year, Bellator will hold their second PPV event, Bellator NYC, headlined by a grudge match between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva. The card is so big that Coker believes it’s the best PPV that’s been offered to MMA fans this year, regardless of sport or promotion.

"This is not something we're going to go in and out of,” Coker told ESPN recently. “This is something we're committed to. The company is committed to doing PPV fights. . .

"The PPV business is tough and there's a lot of competition in the marketplace. There's boxing fights around us, wrestling events, other MMA shows. But honestly, I think this is the best MMA PPV that's been offered in 2017. I'm a fight fan and always buy the big fights; I haven't bought one of them this year. But this PPV, the way we've stacked it from top to bottom, is the best offering this year."

Aside from the main event, Bellator NYC features a plethora of other marquee names and matchups. In the co-main event, MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko takes on former UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione. The main card also features Michael Chandler defending his lightweight title as well as Douglas Lima defending his welterweight title against new free-agent acquisition Lorenz Larkin. The MMA debut of freestyle wrestling wunderkind Aaron Pico rounds out the main card and the undercard features several other notable bouts including a light heavyweight title fight between Phil Davis and Ryan Bader. All-in-all, Bellator is putting a lot into this one basket, and though they’re hoping to reap the rewards, Coker wants to temper expectations.

"When you say expectations, it's something I think we're going to feel. To me, any [buy rate] in the mid-200,000’s would be respectable. And anything in the 300,000’s would be considered a big hit.”

Based on previous performance, it certainly would be. Bellator’s only other PPV offering, before Coker joined the company, only drew 100,000 buys. That card was similar positioned, headlined by a light heavyweight grudge match between Quinton Jackson and Mo Lawal with supporting fights including an interim lightweight title fight between Chandler and Will Brooks, as well as a feature bout with Tito Ortiz in his first fight after leaving the UFC, facing Alexander Shlemenko. But Coker says this card will do better because the rivalry between Sonnen and Silva is still a fight that fans want closure on.

"We've been waiting in the wings for Wanderlei. Had he been available to fight in January, Chael would have fought him instead of Tito Ortiz, and that's because that's the fight that's been built up for the last four years. That fight was supposed to happen three years ago, and it never did. I feel people are still interested in this and that's what it comes down to: the matchup."

Bellator NYC takes place on June 24th at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It’s Bellator’s first trip to New York which legalized MMA last year and has become a magnet for big events from various MMA promotions.


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Coker ain’t wrong. On paper, Bellator NYC is one of the most interesting cards of the year to me because, realistically, the UFC hasn’t put out a truly great offering this year. I was talking about this the other day but seriously, what is the FOTY for 2017? Skelly-Knight? I mean honestly there just hasn’t been any great, back and forth fight. Poirier-Alvarez would probably be the frontrunner had the whole no-contest thing not happened but otherwise, I have no idea. It’s definitely been a down year for the UFC (and thus, MMA) and Bellator NYC looks awesome.

Also, I’d really appreciate it if you gave The Naked Truth a listen this week. Brandon Gibson talked with us despite him being way too important to deal with hooligans like me and The Naked Gambler and it was incredibly fun. Check it out and let us know what you think.

That’s all for today y’all. Take it easy and Conor bless.

If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy it.

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