Scott Coker provided a lot of nuggets for the MMA news cycle on Wednesday.
The Bellator president appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and made some key announcements: Cris Cyborg vs. Sinead Kavanagh featherweight title fight set for Bellator 271, Patricio Pitbull vacating the lightweight title in lieu of a title fight between Peter Queally and Patricky Pitbull at Bellator 270 next month, and the promotion moving to non-title five-round main events starting Jan. 1.
In addition to that breaking news, Coker addressed a lot of other topics of interest as the promotion looks to end 2021 on a high note.
Coker on Paul Brothers: ‘We’d love to have them in Bellator’
To get this out of the way, there is nothing in the works at all when it comes to Jake Paul and Logan Paul heading to Bellator, or MMA in general. And right now, why would there be? They are both making absurd amounts of money in the boxing world that it doesn’t seem likely they would change course anytime soon.
However, when the day actually comes that the YouTube stars want to make the move, Coker and Bellator would be very, very interested.
“They’re hard workers, they’re grinding out their camps, doing what they do — both the brothers — and they’re getting better,” Coker stated. “These guys are getting better and better and better. Don’t underestimate these kids’ fighting ability because they’re putting in the work.
“My view of the whole thing is if they would ever want to come into MMA, we’d love to have them in Bellator.
“As these kids continue to get better, it’s my hope that they come to MMA, that they try and test their skills in mixed martial arts. They have a wrestling background, they’re athletic, young and I think it would be a lot of fun to watch them develop.”
Bellator vs. RIZIN talent trades, co-promotion
According to Coker, the plan is to have Bellator and RIZIN pick up where they left off when the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm. With Bellator recently signing Kyoji Horiguchi, Coker revealed that he and RIZIN head man Nobuyuki Sakakibara engaged in several days of talks with the hopes of the two organizations partnering up “two to three times” in 2022 — whether it be for co-promotional events, or to have talents compete in the other organization in a big fight.
Obviously, it would all depend on when the COVID restrictions ease up once again, but Coker is confident Bellator will host a 2022 event in Japan.
Speaking of Horiguchi, a bantamweight grand prix, perhaps?
Coker was asked about the potential of a bantamweight grand prix being next for the promotion with the signing of Horiguchi, along with a brand new champion in Sergio Pettis.
While he didn’t reveal if 135 would get that spotlight, he couldn’t hide his enthusiasm in regards to the concept.
“That’s one of the divisions we’re stacked in,” Coker said. “We haven’t really decided what the tournament will be moving forward in 2022, but that’s definitely one of the candidates for the weight class because there’s so many great fighters.
“I think we might even go back to a 16-man tournament if we do [it at 135]. There’s so much talent in that division that we’d probably have to expand it because I don’t think we can pick just eight people and feel good about it.”
What’s next for Big Tuna?
Ben Parrish blew the MMA world away with his upset win at Bellator 266 over Christian Edwards, with his “Big Tuna” nickname, his post-fight interview and press conference, and exclusive long-form chat with MMA Fighting days later.
Since then, people have been wondering when Parrish will return to the Bellator cage. Coker, with a little extra nudging from the MMA Fighting staff, was asked about Parrish’s Bellator future.
“He told us after the fight, ‘I can’t come back this year because I don’t have any more time off [from my full-time job]’,” Coker said. “But we’re definitely in talks with him and we’re gonna try to get him back as soon as possible.”
MMA Fighting also confirmed with sources close to the situation that Parrish has not yet been signed to an exclusive deal with the promotion, although that’s the hope and wish from the surging 205-pounder.