San Jose, CA — Scott Coker is faced with an embarrassment of riches this month, with five title fights in April, including the culmination of Bellator MMA’s light heavyweight grand prix.
The promotion president has long espoused the belief that Bellator has the best 205 pound division on the planet — and he stuck to that statement ahead of Bellator 277, where Vadim Nemkov puts his title on the line against Corey Anderson.
“You know how I feel. When you go through a tournament like the tournament we put on, and Yaz, when he fought Corey Anderson, Yaz [Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov] is no joke, this guy is dangerous and he can hit hard. He’s somebody that I thought was winning that fight early on, and Corey I think dug deep and said ‘no, no, this is not going to finish like this’ and he took care of business. But when you talk about the gauntlet of great athletes at 205, to me I think the best fighter in the world will come out tomorrow night and be the champion. And that’s just how I feel,” Coker explained in a media scrum on Thursday.
What’s next after that, Coker suggested, will depend on the outcome of Nemkov vs. Anderson.
“Phil Davis, I don’t think he’s fought Corey yet. So that’s a fight that could be interesting. Karl [Albrektsson]’s a fight[er] that beat Nemkov I think before they got here. That’s a fight that is quite interesting. And listen, I’ve been talking to Gegard [Mousasi, middleweight champion], he has a couple fights at 185 that he wants to do. He said he’ll go up to 205, but that might be a year or eight months away, so I don’t want to count on that. But he said he would move up at some point, and I think he would do quite well. Gegard’s a beast too.”
Bellator is in another good place with its featherweight division at the moment. A.J. McKee runs it back with Patricio Pitbull in the main event on Friday. After that, fighters like Aaron Pico and Adam Borics are waiting in the wings.
“I said from the time we signed him, I think when he was 18-years old, that this guy has that X-factor. And I’ve always believed it,” Coker said of McKee, who has compiled an 18-0 record and captured the 145lb title, spending his entire pro career with Bellator. “I think he’s a marketable kid, I think he’s the best 145 pounder on the planet right now. When I think about things that he could do outside of the cage, I think he could do a lot of good work on the screen.”
“The sky’s the limit for him. This kid is young, and he’s got a lot of talent. I think it’s really up to him.”
McKee has expressed interest in making a run at the lightweight title, and that’s a possibility. “It’s definitely a conversation we’ve had with his dad, himself, our company inside, our fight team including myself,” said Coker. “That’s something, let’s see how he looks tomorrow night. Then we’re reshuffle the deck, and see what we come up with.”
As for the next contenders at 145lbs, “I think that Pico is definitely is somebody that we’re looking at tomorrow night, to see how he performs,” Coker told Cageside Press. “Borics is a super-talented kid. Even Mads Burnell, wow, what a fight that was [against Borics]. That was an unbelievable match-up.”
Watch the full Bellator 277 media scrum with Scott Coker above. The event takes place Friday, April 15, 2022 at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA.