Scott Coker Reflects on Featherweight Grand Prix, Bellator 228 Headliner Gegard Mousasi, Cross-Promoting with Combate

Following Bellator 228, promotion CEO Scott Coker tackled a host of topics, including the ongoing featherweight grand prix, Gegard Mousasi’s performance Saturday, and working with Combate Americas.

Los Angeles, CA — Bellator 228 turned out to be an entertaining night of fights, especially with fighters like A.J. McKee and Leandro Higo pulling of some exciting finishes. The opening round of the featherweight grand prix came to a close, and that was cause for celebration as well.

Now, the second round bracket is set, following an innovative selection process — borrowed from the old K-1 playbook, Bellator CEO Scott Coker admitted to media outlets including Cageside Press following the bout.

That lottery format let fighters choose their date or opponent. And in a surprise twist, champ Patricio Pitbull wound up with a wild card. “The twist really came from John McCarthy,” Coker revealed backstage Saturday. “He called me up and said ‘hey, this is an idea I think you guys should consider. And I thought it was brilliant,'” Coker continued, likening the concept to the “bad santa” version of secret santa gift exchanges, where you can steal someone else’s gift.

“So that was the twist, that came from John McCarthy, so we’ll call that the John McCarthy rule from now on.”

While the featherweight grand prix will be playing out for the next year, expect more tournaments to come. “The tournament format will continue in Bellator, and it will probably be one weight class, male or female, per year,” said Coker. “We’re not going to run multiple tournaments throughout the year. I just think that makes it very confusing. Let’s just focus on one division, make it a great tournament.”

Elsewhere on the Bellator 228 card, while the main event was far from a barn burner, Coker had no issues with winner Gegard Mousasi’s performance. “I think he looked good,” said Coker. The promoter suggested that Mousasi, fighting a counter-striker, was “being very careful,” and added that he felt Gegard won the fight.

On another front, Bellator flyweight Heather Hardy recently fought Amanda Serrano in the ring. Serranno won a unanimous decision, claiming the WBO, vacant WBAN, and interim WBC featherweight titles in the process. After the fight, Serrano, who is signed to Combate Americas, suggested a second fight, in the Bellator cage.

Asked by Cageside Press if that was something he’d consider, Coker responded by saying that “we’re open to any suggestions, you know. What I mean by that is, we’re working with RIZIN right now, and Mike Afromowitz [Combate Americas VP] and I have a good relationship. So I told him the other day, ‘the door is always open.'”

“Timing’s going to be an issue, because we’re so busy. We have to keep our fighters busy,” Coker admitted. But he reaffirmed that the door will be open, adding that “if it makes business, then it makes sense. That’s how I look at it.”

Watch the full Bellator 228 post-fight press conference with Scott Coker above!