Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney is nothing if not persistent. He continues to put the heat on Scott Coker in the media regarding a potential co-promotion between Bellator and Strikeforce, and he seems to be upping the ante. Originally, all the talk centered around a lightweight super-fight between their respective champions, Eddie Alvarez and Gilbert Melendez, but now Rebney is even throwing the idea out there for a pay-per-view stacked with Strikeforce vs. Bellator championship fights. From an interview with The Fight Nerd transcribed by Fight Opinion.
INTERVIEWER: “I’m not even going to say a question here, I’m just going to say a phrase. You can respond… Bellator vs. Strikeforce.”
BJORN REBNEY: “I love it. I keep talking about it. I’m hopeful that it could occur. I’m hopeful that it could occur beyond just Eddie Alvarez vs. Gilbert (Melendez). I would love to set up a Welterweight fight, a big super fight at Welterweight. I would, you know, I would do anything to set up a Middleweight fight. I can only imagine that if there’s hesitancy on their part in terms of taking a Lightweight fight that they’re probably going to be very, very hesitant to take on a Middleweight fight as well. We would do it. We would do it without problem.”
INTERVIEWER: “Co-promoting is not a problem?”
BJORN REBNEY: “No! Not only is it not a problem, but we wouldn’t even have to do a typical orchestration of a co-promotional event where everybody argues and fights and scratches and claws. We would go to San Jose, I know some… I married a woman in my first marriage from San Jose, there’s some spectacular restaurants and great hotels, we would make ourselves at home, we would come in and we would take three fights. It would be great. From a fan perspective, with the CEO hat off, I mean can you see Ben Askren fighting Nick Diaz? Can you see Eddie Alvarez and Gilbert Melendez? Jacare versus Hector Lombard?”
INTERVIEWER: “What are your thoughts about a Bellator PPV?”
BJORN REBNEY: “I mean, I don’t mean to keep going back to it, but you know, in and around New Year’s and the kind of fights we’re talking about in terms of the potential for co-promotion with Strikeforce, I think that would make for a spectacular PPV. I always look at stuff, I separate myself and I say, would I buy that? Would I pay for that? And there are some shows that I look at and go, ‘ehhhhh, probably not. And then are some shows that I look at and go, whoa, I would stay at home for that, you know, and I would irritate the kids, etc. and I would buy it and I would watch every piece of it. That’s the kind of show that I would buy. So, that might have the makings of a PPV but it’s going to take, it’s just like a marriage, you know, you can’t get into without the acquiescence of both parties so they need to say yes.”
Of course, the person who has remained relatively silent while Rebney rallies public support in the media is Scott Coker. From the very beginning, Coker hasn’t seemed terribly interested in a Strikeforce champion vs. Bellator champion super-fight, let alone three of them. Whether that’s actually the case or not, Coker doesn’t seem to care for how Rebney has handled the situation. He says Rebney hasn’t attempted to contact him nearly as many times as he claims, and thinks it’s all just a “PR move.” If a deal between Strikeforce and Bellator is going to happen, it’s not going to happen in the media.
“Bjorn’s saying he’s texting me 11, 12 times an hour. I’m not sure if he’s trying to be a level-five clinger or anything like that, but I haven’t received one text from the guy,” Coker said. “I’m not sure what the motivation is, but maybe it’s just his way of staying in the media, staying in the press.”
“Let’s face it: Gilbert’s fought everybody,” Coker responded Friday. “He beat the guy that Eddie lost to. For them to say, ‘Oh, Gilbert’s ducking him’ — come on, let’s be real. Gilbert has ducked nobody, and neither has Eddie. These are two great fighters. The thing is, if Bjorn’s serious about doing this, then there has to be a business component that has to be worked out. Unfortunately that hasn’t started yet. It’s just been a bunch of stuff in the media. He’s chosen the media to use it as a platform to try to push this thing along, but I think it’s maybe a PR move.”
“It’s very obvious to me he’s using the media as a platform to try to do his business, but that’s not how we’re going to do business,” Coker said. “If he wants to do business, call me or fly out here, come sit down with me. If there’s a deal to be made, we’ll try to make it, but I’m not going to do it in the media. That’s for sure.”
I can respect Coker for wanting to keep any talks with Bellator behind closed doors, but it’s still difficult to tell if he actually has any interest in making a deal. Is this an invitation to begin talks or merely another attempt to deflect questions about co-promoting with Bellator?
Update: If Scott Coker didn’t like how Bjorn Rebney has handled the situation thus far, he definitely isn’t going to like this. Coker says Rebney has never even sent one text to him? Well, Bjorn had his people release screen shots of the texts to the media.
Who knows, maybe they’re fakes, maybe they’re real, but something tells me basically calling Scott Coker a liar in public wasn’t the best way to handle the situation when you’re simultaneously trying to convince him to work with you.
Despite all the games being played, Gilbert Melendez is still optimistic the two sides will come together and reach an agreement to put him and Eddie Alvarez in the same cage.
“I think we’re getting warmer. You guys are talking about it. Everyone’s talking about it. Someone’s going to get backed into a corner. We’re going to figure out why it’s not happening eventually, and that person’s probably going to be cornered in and they’re probably going to have to give in. Because everyone seems like they’re up for it. Bjorn, Scott, Eddie and I. So there’s something going on where we can’t come to an agreement. I think eventually it’s going to come out, and with media and everyone talking about it, I think we’re getting a lot closer and a lot warmer.”