As the president of a promotion that is part of the Showtime Sports family, Coker feels that Bellator is uniquely positioned to make a run at the former UFC heavyweight champion. Ngannou recently parted ways with the UFC after failing to agree on a new contract following a year-long negotiation period, with the company’s refusal to allow him to compete in boxing being one of the major sticking points.
Coker would have no such issue, should Ngannou sign on to fight in the Bellator cage.
“We will invite him, but more importantly is when we can sit down and really talk some business and see if there’s a fit,” Coker said on The MMA Hour when asked if Ngannou will be one of the special guests in attendance for Fedor Emelianenko’s final fight this Saturday at Bellator 290. “If Fedor fights, if he wins the title, he actually would be the champ until we have the new fight, which would not include him.
“Listen, Francis Ngannou would be a great edition to any roster. We would be a great fit because we have Showtime Boxing, he could do boxing and he could do MMA with us. So it would be a one-stop shop for him.”
Should Emelianenko upset Ryan Bader in their rematch this Saturday, he’ll claim the Bellator heavyweight title and immediately retire, leaving the organization without a champion. Ngannou is a lock to immediately compete for any MMA promotion’s title wherever he signs and Coker believes that Ngannou would fit perfectly into a scenario where he needs two fighters to challenge for a vacant title.
“Of course, there’s interest,” Coker said. “Anytime there’s a free agent at this level, we’re talking to everybody all the time, and Francis somebody that we would have high interest in and I know there’s dialogue going on and I look forward to a sit-down in the very near future.”
Ngannou is yet to tip his hand as to what direction he is leaning in, whether it be staying in MMA, strictly boxing, or keeping one foot in both combat sports. Several lucrative possibilities have been discussed, including a megafight with heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury.
Right now, Coker is just looking forward to having a seat at the table.
“Basically, it’s just preliminary discussions to set up a meeting face to face, so we can have a good conversation and get to know each other,” Coker said.