Bellator would welcome boxing act in MMA, says CEO

By Philip O’Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Combined martial arts has absolutely nothing to fear from the extension of legal defenses to fighters that come from boxing, Bellator CEO Scott Coker has actually stated in the wake of 2 brand-new TELEVISION offers that will move Mixed Martial Arts more towards the mainstream.

Coker’s promo just recently revealed broadcast offers with Showtime in the U.S. and the BBC’s iPlayer streaming service in the UK, and he stated his organisation would invite the extension of the Ali Act, called after Muhammad Ali and developed to secure the rights and well-being of fighters, to Mixed Martial Arts.

“Boxing has had it for decades, and if the government moves towards that in MMA, we’ll embrace it. We’re not going to fight it, and it might be the best thing for everybody,” the 58-year-old Coker stated in a telephone interview.

“To be honest, it puts everybody on an equal playing field, us included… I think it might be a blessing in disguise.”

The Ali Act was initially enacted in Might 2000 to secure the rights and well-being of fighters, to assist state boxing commissions with the oversight of boxing and to deal with problems of sportsmanship and stability in the market.

One significant concern for Mixed Martial Arts is that the Ali Act prohibits promoters from having a ‘direct or indirect’ monetary interest in a fighter. Mixed Martial Arts fighters normally sign special agreements with promos and are not enabled to work out easily with others.

The application of the act to Mixed Martial Arts might likewise see a system of external rankings and obligatory title oppositions enforced.

In 2016 a costs was presented by Congressman and previous fighter Markwayne Mullin to extend the Ali Act to Mixed Martial Arts, and the current modification in federal government in the United States has actually re-ignited talk in the sport that more policy might be on the method.

The UFC, the most significant promo in Mixed Martial Arts, has actually formerly informed Reuters it would oppose such a relocation as it would impact their capability to match-make easily, however Coker and Bellator take a various view.

“We’ve always been a ‘fighters first’ organisation, and if they (fighters) want to go this route and the government wants to go this route, then we’ll do it, we’ll abide by it. We’ll make some adjustments and it’s business as usual, as far as I’m concerned,” he stated.

Bellator staged 18 occasions, consisting of an undercard from Paris broadcast on iPlayer, in a 2020 calendar seriously reduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, however the Viacom-owned promo has precaution in location as it increases its activity once again.

“We are still under the guidelines of the Viacom protocol committee, we are governed just like Paramount Pictures,” Coker stated. “Let’s say they’re doing a movie or a TV production, we are in the middle of that as well because we have to abide by their protocols.

“On a battle week I’m usually out and about, now I remain in my hotel space 80 percent of the time, however if that’s what it requires to continue to do battles and to offer material for Showtime and broadcast partners and, most notably, for the fighters… we’re going to remain in our bubble.”

With major TV deals secured in the U.S., U.K. and Russia, Bellator are now turning their attention to other markets.

“In a lot of parts of the world, you will have the ability to see Bellator live prior to April 2,” Coker stated.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Modifying by Ken Ferris)

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.