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ViacomCBS restructures, Bellator MMA now reports to Showtime Sports prez Stephen Espinoza

Bellator 170 Media Day Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Changes are afoot at Bellator MMA in the wake of the merger between Viacom and CBS.

The MMA promotion, which currently airs on the Paramount Network, will now be overseen by Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza as part of a leadership restructuring happening at the company.

News of the move was first reported by Variety.

Scott Coker will remain president of Bellator, but he will now report directly to Espinoza, who also oversees boxing at Showtime.

Espinoza previously has shown interest in overseeing MMA after Strikeforce paired with Showtime prior to acquisition by UFC parent company Zuffa in 2011.

While the executive hinted at talks with different organizations over the years, Espinoza has never brought another MMA promotion to Showtime, keeping his main focus on boxing. During his tenure, he made Showtime a destination for boxing events, inking a multi-fight deal with Floyd Mayweather.

Espinoza also played a major part in the Mayweather fight against Conor McGregor. He famously clashed with the Irish superstar and UFC president Dana White during and after the promotion of that event.

While Bellator MMA will now be under Espinoza’s umbrella at ViacomCBS, there’s no word if that will also result in a move between networks. ViacomCBS has made Paramount Network a focus for original scripted programming in recent years with Bellator as the only sports program on the channel.

Asked about a potential move to Showtime or CBS, Bellator President Coker told MMA Fighting “nothing’s decided yet.”

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