Bellator return has ‘been like re-entry to planet earth’ with planning explains Scott Coker
Bellator MMA will make its return on Friday July 24 headlined by Ricky Bandejas against Sergio Pettis after an absence since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic and president Scott Coker revealed that the MMA organisation may host events from the Mohegan Sun Resort until crowds return.
The fight league has staged event twenty-two times previously in the eleven year history of the company.
Coker explained that the fight league return has been “like a return to planet earth” given the complexities of re-staging events with compliance necessary within CBS/Viacom, which owns the fight company.
“It’s a whole different world. We have to explain how we’re handling the process and what happens if we have a positive test. We have a compliance sheet for a positive test. It’s like a re-entry to planet earth, that’s what it’s like. It’s unbelievable how much information it took,” explained Coker to The Telegraph.
“We’re going to go on the 24th July, August 7 and 14 and September 11. Showtime boxing will do five dates in between our dates. It’ll be a combat sports centre. Which is a good thing because no one has to leave.”
Coker added: “We had to present to the Viacom board; they have a production control board. They control all the production moving forward and it’s like a task force. We had to ensure we were compliant. If just got approved. That’s why it took us so long to announce. We provided the bubble idea, a little bio zone and it took them time to be comfortable with that idea.”
Bellator will showcase its young guns in the most competitive match-ups as well as its champions. “We wanted to do something explosive, but we wanted to include our superstars too. You’ll be seeing Ryan Bader here and Lyoto Machida. I think Cris Cyborg fight. It hasn’t all be decided yet, but our champions will definitely be in title fights.”
Coker forsees Bellator being based at Mohegan Sun for some time, given that most sporting events are likely to be without crowds for some time. “To be honest we might be there for the next few months. I don’t see any place in this country or the planet allowing big gatherings. We might be at Mohegan Sun at least until the end of the year. I don’t see it changing.”
The July 24 event will be shown live on Sky Sports. “We’re really pleased about that. We want our fans in Europe to get to see all our events,” added Coker. Selected media will be allowed inside ‘the fightsphere’ – as Coker has named it – but will be subject to the same COVID-19 testing protocols as fighters, teams and staff at the events.