In the last twenty four hours it has come to light that there has been a major shift in the MMA leadership landscape. Here’s the highlights:
Bjorn Rebney’s Bellator Departure
Yesterday is was announced that Bellator MMA founder Bjorn Rebney had departed from the organization. In some ways this wasn’t a shock considering some of the tension that had taken place following the Viacom buyout. It was clear that Bellator had been running differently from before Viacom owned the company. Tournaments didn’t seem to hold the same value as before as they were often seeded to favor a specific fighter or two. Along with Rebney, Bellator COO and President Tim Danaher was also leaving the company.
Scott Coker Onboard
While it wasn’t surprising that Rebney left the company, it also may not be a surprise that Strikeforce founder Scott Coker is coming on board to replace Rebney as the head of the promotion. Since Strikeforce folded at the beginning of last year, Coker has been keeping a low profile. Coker helped lead Strikeforce into becoming the arguably number two promotion in MMA following the fall of EliteXC with high points such as fights on CBS. It will be interesting to see how Coker runs the his new home. However, there are hints as to what will happen.
Bellator Format Change
Another announcement that has come out of the leadership change at Bellator is that tournaments will no longer be a part of the promotion. This was already starting to happen when Bellator actually started playing matchmaker with match ups like Eddie Alvarez versus Michael Chandler 2, Chandler versus Will Brooks, and Pat Curran versus Daniel Straus. However, this recent development has made things quite plain as to what will happen and now things will be determined fully on match making. This may actually favor UFC and MMA veterans such as James Thompson, Cheick Kongo, Tito Ortiz and Sokoujou to name a few. Unfortunately there are some who don’t like it.
There are some who feel this is not a good move on the part of Bellator, one of which is veteran Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Despite saying Bellator was treating him well, Jackson is considering retirement following Rebney’s departure. This is despite the fact that Jackson supposedly has a title fight coming up with Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Emanuel Newton. At the same time lightweight champion Alvarez took to twitter wishing Rebney well in any future endeavors. Ironic considering the legal battle the two had a while back.
It is likely that Rebney will probably find employment with another promotion sometime soon and time will tell how the new Bellator will fare.