Bellator MMA could be back this summer according to the promotion’s president Scott Coker.
Coker said he is eying a return in mid-July during an interview with Amy Kaplan of FanSided on Friday, May 8. He expects the shows to be closed to the public and held in a southern state.
“We’re shooting for a mid-July start date, and that could be flexed one way or the other. We could go early-July or maybe even a week later, but we expect to be fully operational. It will look different.” Coker said to Kaplan.
“We’ll have a nice set design and made for a TV show, more so than a live audience and a TV show.”
The promotion has postponed five events so far due to the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with Bellator 241 being canceled on the day of the event, March 13. Coker followed up by postponing all three of Belaltor’s events slated for May.
Most recently, the promotion canceled Bellator 244, scheduled for June 6 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Ill.
Coker will be making up for lost time once Bellator is back up and running.
“Starting in July, we expect to stay very busy and maybe, you know, do fights back-to-back weekends for the next six to eight weeks just to get caught up,” Coker said. “[And] with the fights that we owe people and you know, the fights that we’re gonna owe people not just from the past from March, April and May and June, but also in July and August we’re gonna have fights that we owe people. So, we’re gonna have a lot of fights, in my opinion, starting in July, probably through September.”
Picking up where it left off
Bellator lost three of its scheduled title fights because of the postponements, including championship bouts at featherweight, middleweight and light-heavyweight. Featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Pedro Carvahlo are just one of the two Featherweight Grand Prix Tournament quarterfinal bouts remaining.
Darion Caldwell was slated to fight Emmanuel Sanchez in the semifinals at Bellator 244. These matchups provide Scott Coker with more options going forward.
“I mean, honestly, I would love to just pick them up and basically re-do them. Obviously, we have the tournament that we’re continuing in the quarterfinals that we were doing with DAZN. We pulled the plug the day of the fight, and so we’re definitely gonna wanna do those fights again, and then we’ll have the semifinals and the finals that we’ll have to do sometime in the fall,” Coker said. “We had an amazing fight with Ryan Bader, you know, and then [Douglas] Lima fighting Gegard Mousasi, here in San Jose. It would have been this weekend, and it would have been an amazing show. And just, you know, it didn’t happen, and we all know why. But I’d love to get those guys back in here as soon as possible.”
Getting on the same page
Bellator is not in this alone. Scott Coker is waiting to hear the projected approach from the promotion’s owner, Viacom. Bellator is also reaching out to different athletic commissions around the country, finding out what protocols they will be taking.
Bellator is not back just yet, but the motions are being put into place.
“It’s gonna be tricky, with a lot of moving parts, and a lot of trying to keep a lot of different people, you know and a lot of different parts of this business controlled by different entities,” Coker said. “It’s gonna be trying to make three or four different groups all satisfied with our end protocol requirements.”