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Bjorn Rebney out, Scott Coker in at Bellator

June 19, 2014

scott cokerThe colorful chairman and CEO of Bellator MMA is gone from the MMA promotion he founded in 2008. SpikeTV officials confirmed the split is effective immediately. Bellator President and COO Tim Danaher has also left the company.

Former Strikeforce boss Scott Coker was named President earlier today.

There was no specifics cited as a reason for the split but disappointing PPV efforts and inability to put a dent in the UFC machine could be a couple of the reasons; in a statement, Rebney simply said there were “strategic differences.”

Rebney said in a statement, “”It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I am leaving the company I founded, I have great pride in having turned my vision into reality.”

Danaher reiterated the differences in vision; “Viacom Tim and I differed in our views of the right strategic direction for Bellator. I feel very privileged and honored to have been one of the guiding forces for developing Bellator into the largest MMA tournament-based organization in the world.”

Viacom purchased a majority share of the fight promotion in 2012 and with the money they are investing in the product, it’s very likely they weren’t happy with the return and wanted to push Rebney out.

The return of Coker is an interesting but perhaps smart move; Since Pride FC folded, Coker led Strikeforce was the only organization to be a legitimate number 2 to the behemoth that is the UFC.

Coker said that he will be “evolving” Bellator’s SpikeTV tournament format into a more traditional format where the fans get to see the fights they want. This should please fight fans as with the current format, fighters were locked into a tree and it often made it difficult for the fans to see the best of the best square off in the cage.

During a conference call, Coker said that he come out of retirement because of Viacom’s commitment to MMA. A few other points from the conference call were that Coker plans to sign more talent. If Viacom is willing to increase the talent budget Coker has to work with, this could be a good sign for fighters and fight fans as UFC fighters will have a legitimate second option if negotiations break down during contract talks and for the fans a strong second promotion will force the UFC to raise it’s game and put together more talent on their PPV and free TV cards.