Cyborg is one of the most accomplished fighters in MMA history, and the current Bellator women’s featherweight champion. However, her contract with the promotion recently expired, meaning that soon, she will once again become one of the biggest free agents in the sport.
Coker hopes it won’t come to that, because the promotion is still very much interested in working with her.
“She’s actually in the matching period of her contract, but she and I have a very good relationship, and I told her, ‘Go train and do your fight and [everything] during this period of time, and when you come back from Brazil, let’s sit down and make a deal,’” Coker told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I have every intention to have her on our roster, it’s just we have to sit down and hammer out the deal.
“That’s something I feel we will get done when she gets back from Brazil, I think in the middle of the month. But I feel the relationship is solid, and we’ll be in the Cyborg business for many years to come.”
Cyborg has been similarly complimentary of Bellator. Arriving in the organization in 2020, she’s been fairly active, winning the title from Julia Budd in her debut and defending it four times.
However, with only six women in its featherweight division, Cyborg has already been forced to defend her belt in a rematch, raising the question of new matchups they can offer. There’s the oft-discussed bout with Cat Zingano, but with Cyborg wanting to fight three times a year, it may be hard for Bellator to fill that request.
For his part, Coker acknowledges the leanness at featherweight is a real problem, but with Cyborg making her professional boxing debut earlier this month and stating an interest in continuing pursuing that avenue as well, the Bellator CEO believes he and Cyborg can come to an agreement that will best serve her interests.
“There’s a couple girls out there, Leah McCourt being one, but in the past we’ve had to revisit some fights and run it back,” Coker said when asked about rematches for Cyborg. “When you look at Arlene Blencowe’s fight against Cyborg, the second fight was really good, better than the first fight. So to me, there might be some rematches . ... There’s Amanda Nunes and the UFC, there’s Kayla [Harrison], there’s Cyborg, and then there’s a handful of girls, but it’s not a weight class where there’s a lot of really high, high-level, like 20 fighters sitting out there waiting to step up. It’s a handful of girls that can really fight at this level.
“So it is tough, but I think she likes boxing, I think she wants to continue boxing. At some point, we’ll sit down and have that conversation, but to me if she wants to box and fight MMA, I think we can keep her busy in both of those arenas where it would be worth it to her.”
Lack of exclusivity is becoming a bit of a calling card for Bellator. Historically, the organization has co-promoted with RIZIN for cards, and recently Coker allowed Michael “Venom” Page to face Mike Perry in BKFC. With the PFL open to co-promotion with Bellator to make the much-hyped superfight between Cyborg and Kayla Harrison, perhaps Coker can offer Cyborg the best deal to finish out her combat sports career.