Bellator President Scott Coker on Promotion’s Future with DAZN

Following Bellator 249, which saw Cris Cyborg successfully defend her featherweight title, Bellator has a full schedule over the next few weeks. Douglas Lima moves up to middleweight to face Gegard Mousasi for the vacant 185lb title. And the Bellator featherweight grand prix resumes.

That’s a subject Bellator President Scott Coker was big on following Thursday night’s card. The continuation of the grand prix was announced earlier in the evening.

“It feels good to get the tournament on, and I feel great doing it here [at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut]. Because this is where it all stopped,” observed Coker, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press post-fight. “The guys were ready to go, COVID hit, it got worse, a lot of people felt uncomfortable, and so we shut it down on the day of.”

At the time, Coker expected things would be on hold for just a few months tops. “I never would have thought we would be here eight months later, and we still haven’t put this event on,” he admitted. “I thought it was going to be a break for three, four months and then we’d get back in business.”

“To get the tournament back here, to get the tournament back going, and have it on CBS Sports Network, is going to be great,” he added. “We really want to get to the finals sometime early next year,” he continued later, before admitting that it could be as late as sometime in the Spring before the grand prix wraps up.

Coker has been master of the grand prix since he ran Strikeforce, where the heavyweight grand prix pretty much stole the UFC’s thunder. However, note the broadcast arrangement here. Prior to the pandemic, the Bellator featherweight grand prix was aired (or rather streamed) exclusively on DAZN. The promotion’s old traditional broadcast partner, Paramount Network, went dark for those events. Thursday’s press release listed DAZN in addition to CBS Sports Network.

So is it the end of the DAZN exclusive? To that question, Coker replied “No” before expanding on the subject a little.

“Actually we’re just waiting to see what they want to do. And when they’re getting back. They have some issues with Canelo [Alvarez] they’re trying to work out, I don’t think they’ve scheduled anything with Triple G, we have nothing scheduled right now,” explained Coker. “But we’re hoping that we can get back on the books and get something going and get this tournament back on DAZN like it was.”

In the meantime, Coker added, “the show must go on. So we’re going to have it on CBS Sports Network, and that’s what you’re going to see in November, is the continuation of the tournament. And then if DAZN starts re-engaging, then we can continue the tournament there. And do some more great fights. We did some great fights for DAZN. We’re just waiting to see what they want to do.”

Watch the full Bellator 249 post-fight press conference with Scott Coker above.