Bellator’s second trip to Paris was a successful return for Scott Coker and company, with a couple of key players standing out on Friday night.
Among them, former multi-time UFC title challenger Yoel Romero, who snapped a losing streak dating back to 2018 when he finished ranked light heavyweight Alex Polizzi with just a second left in their co-main event fight.
“There’s a couple fighters that stood out, and one was Yoel Romero. I thought he did an amazing job,” Bellator President Scott Coker told Cageside Press following the event. “He did what he had to do at the end, he took the guy out, but he dominated the fight from start to finish. Just having that scene, the kind of, let’s say crowd interaction with the fighter, basically cheering on the crowd and getting the crowd behind him, he did an amazing job.”
Romero certainly did play to the crowd, and his performance Friday bodes well for the 45-year old’s fighting future. Following the bout, Romero was faced off with Melvin Manhoef inside the cage; that fight is planned for Dublin in the fall. But “The Soldier of God” is already looking past that, as he said afterwards that he wants a fight at middleweight following the Manhoef fight.
That’s something Coker remains open to. “Yeah, absolutely. One of the reasons why we brought Yoel here is to fight Gegard Mousasi. If Gegard keeps winning and Yoel keeps winning, I think you’ll see a collision at some point, at 185 or 205.”
Coker was also impressed with Normandy’s Davy Gallon. “I thought he did a great job,” the Bellator President stated, noting that six of eleven French fighters won on the card. “A lot of good, good talent here, and we’re going to be looking forward to putting these guys into some different fights around the world.”
He also noted that the French talent pool has had to play catch-up in comparison to their U.S. counterparts. “This is just the beginning for them. You have to remember, MMA in America has had a 30 year head start, and we came here, did the very first show 18 months ago.”
Another big fight on the horizon is the light heavyweight grand prix finale; that one appears to be on hold till Autumn. Corey Anderson and Vadim Nemkov originally met last month, but an accidental clash of heads resulted in an unsatisfying no contest.
“We’re waiting for Nemkov to heal up. Corey, I think he could have fought the next week, he was fine,” Coker told Cageside Press. “I saw him at a restaurant the next day, and he was ready to go then and he wants to fight right away. But I think Nemkov, I think his cut is going to stop him from really training and competing and getting back in there until probably the fall season, so I think the earliest you’ll see Nemkov back is going to be around September.”
Watch the full Bellator 280 post-fight press conference with Scott Coker above. More coverage can be found below.