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Scott Coker still enthusiastic about working with Paul Daley

MMA: Bellator 199-Daley vs Fitch
Paul Daley in action against Jon Fitch at Bellator 199
Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Even though Paul Daley has said that his contract with Bellator was up and he ended up talking up a storm in the third round of his loss to Jon Fitch on Saturday night in San Jose, Calif., Bellator MMA President Scott Coker remained positive about his future with the company.

”My feelings have not changed,” he said about Daley after the show. “That is one of the most dynamic fighters I’ve ever been associated with. He had a tough matchup with Fitch. Fitch is a world-class athlete. I love that guy. He’s welcome to be here at Bellator and we may have more fights (on his contract) than he thinks he has. I’ll sit down with him when we get to London (in two weeks for Bellator 200). I hope he’s here for a long time. Win or lose, Paul Daley always brings it.”

Coker said he didn’t hear what Daley was saying in the cage in the third round as Fitch was mauling him on the ground en route to a lopsided decision win. Much of it was bleeped out, but Daley was complaining about Fitch’s style and that style costing them television viewers. Fitch said that he talked back to Daley and felt Daley wasn’t even trying to make a fight of it and take risks to get to his feet, and was just hoping a stand up would be called.

”You know at the end of the day, it’s an emotional time for a fighter,” Coker said. “Let him calm down for a couple of days. When we get to London, we’ll have a conversation. I don’t know what he said, but it’s an emotional time.”

Coker indicated that when he goes to London for Bellator 200 on May 25 at SSE Wembley, that the two would work out their issues, and even mentioned wanting to put together a Daley vs. Michael “Venom” Page fight before the end of the year in London, or somewhere in the U.K.

Coker also talked about the company’s international expansion, indicating Bellator may be opening new offices in other parts of the world. Coker said that an announcement would be made regarding the business expansion after the London show.

”Brazil is a little bit tricky,” he said. “You need the infrastructure and we’re working on that. It’s not going to happen in the next couple of months. The international plans that we started last year, or the year before, Viacom is an international company, and their mandate is to expand internationally. We’ll have some exciting announcements at the end of the show in London as far as where we’re going and the expansion of the business. We’ll make those announcements at the post-fight press conference in London.”

Coker also indicated that 50 Cent may be headed to London for Bellator 200. While there has been talk of 50 Cent as a fighter, Coker downplayed that. But he did think he and 50 Cent could do business together in some form, noting perhaps some of 50 Cent’s companies could work with Bellator and that Viacom could open some doors for 50 Cent in movies or television.

Coker said that at the end of the show, 50 Cent texted him and said, “See you in London.”

”Listen, there’s no business relationship between 50 Cent and us,” said Coker. “He just came as a fan. But when he wants to bring some muscle to a promotion like he did with this, he did a good job, and it’s good for MMA.

”I got a text when he left saying, ‘I’ll see you in London,’ so I assume he’s coming to the fight. He’s a very busy man. He’s in the television business, the movie business. He’s actually doing a show in London in September at the O2. He’s busy. He’s a big fan. We’d love to have him in London. If not, we’ll do it another time.”

Coker indicated that he considers the heavyweight tournament, which finished its first round on Saturday night with Ryan Bader’s 15-second win over Muhammed Lawal, a big success so far. He expected to shortly announce the dates and places of the semifinals, with Fedor Emelianenko vs. Chael Sonnen and Bader vs. Matt Mitrione, indicating a September timetable.

He also talked about the idea of future tournaments, such as perhaps doing another tournament next year in another weight class. After the show, Aaron Pico suggested the idea of a featherweight tournament, noting the number of name fighters Bellator has in that division. Fitch brought up rumors of a welterweight tournament.

”Yeah, I want to get through the heavyweight tournament first, but I think it’s a great format for us,” Coker said. “There is a place for tournaments in MMA, and this Grand Prix tournament proves that. For us, this crowned our heavyweight champion, but don’t be surprised to see another tournament next year.”

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