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MEX23. CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (MÉXICO), 25/04/2018.- Fotografía cedida por el Consejo Mundial de Boxeo (CMB) que muestra el cinturon tzeltal hoy, miércoles 25 de abril de 2018, en Ciudad de México (México). El kazako Gennady Golovkin, campeón mundial de peso mediano del Consejo Mundial (CMB), la Asociación Mundial (AMB) y la Federación Internacional de Boxeo (FIB), dijo este miércoles que la pelea ante el mexicano Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez es su prioridad para septiembre. EFE/CMB/SOLO USO EDITORIAL
MEX23. CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (MÉXICO), 25/04/2018.- Fotografía cedida por el Consejo Mundial de Boxeo (CMB) que muestra el cinturon tzeltal hoy, miércoles 25 de abril de 2018, en Ciudad de México (México). El kazako Gennady Golovkin, campeón mundial de peso mediano del Consejo Mundial (CMB), la Asociación Mundial (AMB) y la Federación Internacional de Boxeo (FIB), dijo este miércoles que la pelea ante el mexicano Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez es su prioridad para septiembre. EFE/CMB/SOLO USO EDITORIAL
MEX23. CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (MÉXICO), 25/04/2018.- Fotografía cedida por el Consejo Mundial de Boxeo (CMB) que muestra el cinturon tzeltal hoy, miércoles 25 de abril de 2018, en Ciudad de México (México). El kazako Gennady Golovkin, campeón mundial de peso mediano del Consejo Mundial (CMB), la Asociación Mundial (AMB) y la Federación Internacional de Boxeo (FIB), dijo este miércoles que la pelea ante el mexicano Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez es su prioridad para septiembre. EFE/CMB/SOLO USO EDITORIAL
MEX22. CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (MÉXICO), 25/04/2018.- Fotografía cedida por el Consejo Mundial de Boxeo (CMB) que muestra al presidente del CMB, el mexicano Mauricio Sulaimán, quien posa con el cinturon tzeltal al termino de una rueda de prensa, hoy, miércoles 25 de abril de 2018, en Ciudad de México (México). El kazako Gennady Golovkin, campeón mundial de peso mediano del Consejo Mundial (CMB), la Asociación Mundial (AMB) y la Federación Internacional de Boxeo (FIB), dijo este miércoles que la pelea ante el mexicano Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez es su prioridad para septiembre. EFE/CMB/SOLO USO EDITORIAL
MEX22. CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (MÉXICO), 25/04/2018.- Fotografía cedida por el Consejo Mundial de Boxeo (CMB) que muestra al presidente del CMB, el mexicano Mauricio Sulaimán, quien posa con el cinturon tzeltal al termino de una rueda de prensa, hoy, miércoles 25 de abril de 2018, en Ciudad de México (México). El kazako Gennady Golovkin, campeón mundial de peso mediano del Consejo Mundial (CMB), la Asociación Mundial (AMB) y la Federación Internacional de Boxeo (FIB), dijo este miércoles que la pelea ante el mexicano Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez es su prioridad para septiembre. EFE/CMB/SOLO USO EDITORIAL
MEX22. CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (MÉXICO), 25/04/2018.- Fotografía cedida por el Consejo Mundial de Boxeo (CMB) que muestra al presidente del CMB, el mexicano Mauricio Sulaimán, quien posa con el cinturon tzeltal al termino de una rueda de prensa, hoy, miércoles 25 de abril de 2018, en Ciudad de México (México). El kazako Gennady Golovkin, campeón mundial de peso mediano del Consejo Mundial (CMB), la Asociación Mundial (AMB) y la Federación Internacional de Boxeo (FIB), dijo este miércoles que la pelea ante el mexicano Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez es su prioridad para septiembre. EFE/CMB/SOLO USO EDITORIAL
The International Olympic Committee is threatening to remove boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Games due to remaining concerns over possible match-fixing at Rio 2016
The International Olympic Committee is threatening to remove boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Games due to remaining concerns over possible match-fixing at Rio 2016
The International Olympic Committee is threatening to remove boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Games due to remaining concerns over possible match-fixing at Rio 2016
The International Olympic Committee is threatening to remove boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Games due to remaining concerns over possible match-fixing at Rio 2016 (AFP Photo/KAZUHIRO NOGI)
The International Olympic Committee is threatening to remove boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Games due to remaining concerns over possible match-fixing at Rio 2016
The International Olympic Committee is threatening to remove boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Games due to remaining concerns over possible match-fixing at Rio 2016 (AFP Photo/KAZUHIRO NOGI)
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
Exclusive interview: Bellator CEO Scott Coker on Anthony Joshua, Conor McGregor, Fedor-Mir and why he signed Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
Exclusive interview: Bellator CEO Scott Coker on Anthony Joshua, Conor McGregor, Fedor-Mir and why he signed Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
Exclusive interview: Bellator CEO Scott Coker on Anthony Joshua, Conor McGregor, Fedor-Mir and why he signed Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
Exclusive interview: Bellator CEO Scott Coker on Anthony Joshua, Conor McGregor, Fedor-Mir and why he signed Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
Exclusive interview: Bellator CEO Scott Coker on Anthony Joshua, Conor McGregor, Fedor-Mir and why he signed Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers
What made you sign a reality TV star in Aaron Chalmers to the massive Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May? “I knew he had a mixed martial arts background and I like doing things outside the box. He was a fighter that had general crossover. He’s a star of a Viacom show, Geordie Shore, on a Viacom network, it just made a lot of sense to keep it in the family. That’s the reason we signed him.” Is there prospect of two or more UK and Ireland events after Bellator 200? “Yeah, I think so. The commitment to the UK is still extremely strong. We’re healthy and robust in the UK market. I think you’ll see a lot of fights this year. How many? Maybe a couple. But they’ll be a lot of fights next year as well.” How important is it to build the TV fanbase in the UK? “The London fight is on a Friday and traditionally we air in the UK on a Saturday. Dublin’s on a Friday, we air on Saturday. Belfast the same. Things are loosening up a little where we can start to make more events that are going to be live. Especially the ones that we do here, they should be live. Sport is made to be live. You can’t watch something three hours later already knowing the results, it’s not the same experience. But we have to respect our overseas partners as well. "There are a lot of deals all over the world trying to make everyone happy. Paramount would have to air our shows at noon if it was live here, on a Friday. So how does that work? We’re trying to figure it out between the app, the website, and the platforms and trying to make it work. It’s a complicated web, we’re talking 150 countries around the world that we have to answer to including the main company. And that’s Paramount Network.” Conor McGregor in trouble with New York authorities Credit: Reuters/Reuters This week there is a huge match-up here in Chicago as the heavyweight MMA 'GOAT' Fedor Emelianenko fights another great in Frank Mir. A year ago Fedor-Matt Mitrione had to be called off three hours before the event with Mitrione having kidney stones... How does a fighter forced off a card affect an overall card? “This my 33rd year in the fight business, it happens. I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a card where it happened so late as the Fedor [Emelianenko] Matt Mitrione card. Literally the afternoon of the fight, two hours before, we called it off. It’s not ideal. But it happens. This is the fight business. If you have a little bit of time, there are things you can do to maybe find a replacement. But, when you’re that far in the game, the day of, I think that’s the first time I’ve had to cancel a main event of that magnitude. If it’s the day before you can start manoeuvring, find another opponent. You’re scrambling, kind of like the San Jose fight. That day of Chael Sonnen said to me 'If he’s out, I’m in', but it’s not that easy to just put Chael in. There’s licenses, Fedor has to agree after training for someone else. In the end Fedor was okay with just letting it go, but he really did want to fight. I think it was so late in the day, if it wasn’t going to be Mitrione he would just do it another day. That’s when we postponed it and moved towards the New York fight in June.” Does it create problems promotionally? “I think the Commission’s rule is if the fighter gets on the scale [the day before the fight] then you have a certain amount of obligation to him. And that’s what we wanted to do. We had some obligation to Fedor and we took care of it. He didn’t do all the training for nothing. Was it ideal? No, because he wanted to fight. To have to be in training camp for months and then fly from Moscow to the Bay Area, I’m sure he was not happy. I’ll never forget his reaction, he was disappointed. The guy’s unemotional. He’s a very stoic personality, and I think that’s why people love him. He’s a mysterious guy, what’s he all about? "And Matt, I give him props, because even until the very end he wanted to fight. “Give me an hour, the doctor said we’re going to pass this stone, give me an hour”. I couldn’t do it. Health and safety first. If something happens it won'’t be good for anybody. It was me telling him [Matt] it wasn’t happening. Eventually Fedor said enough, think it was 2.40pm and the doors opened at 4pm.” Looking forward to speaking with a covering these two MMA heavyweight legends this week in Chicago @BellatorMMA@thefrankmir#Fedorpic.twitter.com/O5QP1sRuSI— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) April 24, 2018 Have you ever had that with other events, the day before? “Oh yeah. It doesn’t always have to be a big fight. It happens all the time. It’ll never change. You could be shadow boxing, trying to cut weight and suddenly you pass out. It’s something that is just a piece of our business.” Is having this heavyweight tournament, is this a very fulfilling time for you? “The answer is yes, but there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability that goes along with it. It’s a lot of work, sometimes you’ve got to dig deep. We don’t have a big staff, we don’t have four, five hundred employees. We have a very small crew, which I like, and I expect those guys to get the job done. There’s probably about 30 of us. We have the backbone of Viacom, they have the payroll and legal, we have a lot of support. We benefit from not having to have those departments. We’re basically a promotional fight department.” MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko fights Frank Mir in Chicago this weekend Credit: Bellator/Bellator You’re almost married to the job? “There’s no separation. When you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed, this is it. Think about it, we’re doing 22 fights, plus kickboxing, so let’s say there’s 27 events [a year]. We’re doing one every other week. In the month of April we did three events. That’s a lot of fights. I love big events. It reminds me of the old days, when I knew everyone on the fight card and it wasn’t just one fight. For us, we know everyone on the fight card and what they’re capable of. We have to thank Viacom for that, because they allow us to do that.” Did you invent the idea of an eight-man tournament? “Oh no, come on. Two thousand years ago, maybe. I’ll tell you how the heavyweight tournament on Paramount came about. It was after we re-signed Rampage Jackson, we then signed Roy Nelson. We also had Matt [Mitrione}. I knew King Mo [Lawal] was a heavyweight. Fedor [Emelianenko] was a big, big heavyweight. I knew we had a good amount of heavyweights to make this happen. Chael [Sonnen] will test himself against anybody. We had Frank Mir. “They liked it because it’s storytelling. It’s a constant narrative for the whole year. Plus we have the heavyweight championship on the line. It just made a lot of sense.” Is it a thrill? “Oh yeah. I mean Fedor and Matt, one punch. Almost a double knockout. I grew up in mixed martial arts doing karate tournaments. And then K1 was all in one night. We did it in Strikeforce. One of the most meaningful tournaments in our history was that 2011 heavyweight tournament. Look at how many killers we had in that tournament. We put together guys who just had the right fit. We needed to do it again and I think we did it better this time. If you look at all the digital pieces our guys are pumping out, supporting each event, I think we’re getting much better programming for Bellator that we just didn’t have in 2011. There was no digital department in 2011 in Strikeforce. I had a friend 10 years ago tell me digital was the future. I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. “It’s all changing. Look at television these days, it’s not always on the TV now. Maybe in a few generations TV might be the minority.” Reality TV star Aaron Chalmers will fight on the historic Bellator 200 event at Wembley in May Credit: BAMMA/BAMMA How do you respond to people saying boxing is on the rise and MMA is just levelling out? “I think boxing is on the rise because of what Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did. I think they captured the time and made boxing cool again. Outside the UK, really, it wasn’t more popular in America. It’s popular here in the UK with Anthony Joshua. That’s why Deontay Wilder is so attracted to the UK. He and Joshua could sell out 70,000 seats if they wanted to.” Would you sign Joshua to be an MMA fighter tomorrow? “Sure. Why not? Let him test himself out. He’s great athlete. Obviously he can box. The guy is a big star in the UK and think we could put him into some very interesting matches. It’s like when Conor went into boxing, the crossover appeal. The thing with Joshua is, he’s a big star here, but in America he’s not that popular. Wilder is just now on the rise. There hasn’t been a Mike Tyson era in a while. No Sugar Ray [Leonard], no Tommy Hearns era. In the 70’s when all the great heavyweights fought each other - [Muhammad} Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, [Larry] Holmes. In this 70’s and 80’s you had these great rivalries. In the 90’s we had Mike Tyson. That’s my point, boxing has not come to that excitement in America. The popularity is not what it once was. “I think the MMA and boxing are different audiences. I think it’s a different intrigue. There’s no reason you can’t be a fan of both, why does it have to be one or the other?” UK fans keen to see Paul Daley meet Michael Venom Page Credit: Bellator/Bellator How does MMA keep rising? “I think it just needs to keep trucking for a while. New stars will be born. A good example is WWE. When they had Hulk Hogan, he was the king and it was just nuts, Hulkmania. The peak was when they had that competition with WCW. They created this hype for wrestling, but then they went away. For years and then all of a sudden, bang. And they went down again. I wasn’t in love with wrestling as an adult, but then my son wanted to go one time, so we went to a show. I went and the bottom bowl closed, top tier empty and I couldn’t believe it. It went from packed to empty within five years. Now they’re jammed again, it comes around. I’ve seen it in MMA over 33 years. Something will spark it. What I think of NFL football, this is the first time they’ve been hit in the ratings. They’ve brought politics into the sport, personally I don’t want that. The NFL took a hit from that. NFL was an invincible brand for many years. I still renew my season tickets every year, I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for many years.” Are we going to see Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley fight ? It's a fight British MMA fans crave ? “In my opinion, it will happen. I haven’t talked to either one of them, but it will happen. I think timing is important. They both feel a certain way. Maybe Michael’s over it, Paul’s over it, but it’s up to us as a promotion to make it happen. It has to happen in the UK. Live on TV in the UK.”
Before Cup drivers take the green flag at Talladega, boxing champion Deontay Wilder will pace the field.
Deontay Wilder named Geico 500 honorary pace car driver
Before Cup drivers take the green flag at Talladega, boxing champion Deontay Wilder will pace the field.
Before Cup drivers take the green flag at Talladega, boxing champion Deontay Wilder will pace the field.
Deontay Wilder named Geico 500 honorary pace car driver
Before Cup drivers take the green flag at Talladega, boxing champion Deontay Wilder will pace the field.
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
Tyson Fury steps closer to boxing return after securing BBBoC licence and revealing he will be his own manager
President Trump Saturday said that he is considering a “full pardon” for boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, after being urged to do so by “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone.
Who is boxing legend Jack Johnson?
President Trump Saturday said that he is considering a “full pardon” for boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, after being urged to do so by “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone.
President Trump Saturday said that he is considering a “full pardon” for boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, after being urged to do so by “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone.
Who is boxing legend Jack Johnson?
President Trump Saturday said that he is considering a “full pardon” for boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, after being urged to do so by “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone.
President Trump Saturday said that he is considering a “full pardon” for boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, after being urged to do so by “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone.
Who is boxing legend Jack Johnson?
President Trump Saturday said that he is considering a “full pardon” for boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, after being urged to do so by “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone.
Tony Bellew: Boxing’s doping problem is out of hand and will only be properly addressed after someone is killed
Tony Bellew: Boxing’s doping problem is out of hand and will only be properly addressed after someone is killed
Tony Bellew: Boxing’s doping problem is out of hand and will only be properly addressed after someone is killed
Tony Bellew: Boxing’s doping problem is out of hand and will only be properly addressed after someone is killed
Tony Bellew: Boxing’s doping problem is out of hand and will only be properly addressed after someone is killed
Tony Bellew: Boxing’s doping problem is out of hand and will only be properly addressed after someone is killed
Tony Bellew: Boxing’s doping problem is out of hand and will only be properly addressed after someone is killed
Tony Bellew: Boxing’s doping problem is out of hand and will only be properly addressed after someone is killed
Tony Bellew: Boxing’s doping problem is out of hand and will only be properly addressed after someone is killed
Boxing promoter Raufu Ladipo displays a lightweight belt to be contested by boxers during a GOtv title fight at the National Stadium in Lagos on April 15, 2018
Boxing promoter Raufu Ladipo displays a lightweight belt to be contested by boxers during a GOtv title fight at the National Stadium in Lagos on April 15, 2018
Boxing promoter Raufu Ladipo displays a lightweight belt to be contested by boxers during a GOtv title fight at the National Stadium in Lagos on April 15, 2018
Satellite television platform Multichoice Nigeria has organised an annual "boxing night" since 2004, which is watched by millions across Africa
Satellite television platform Multichoice Nigeria has organised an annual "boxing night" since 2004, which is watched by millions across Africa
Satellite television platform Multichoice Nigeria has organised an annual "boxing night" since 2004, which is watched by millions across Africa
Since the beginning of the 2000s boxing has made a come-back in Nigeria and been seen as a way for aspiring boxers from impoverished backgrounds to find fame and fortune
Since the beginning of the 2000s boxing has made a come-back in Nigeria and been seen as a way for aspiring boxers from impoverished backgrounds to find fame and fortune
Since the beginning of the 2000s boxing has made a come-back in Nigeria and been seen as a way for aspiring boxers from impoverished backgrounds to find fame and fortune
Boxing used to be the most popular sport in Nigeria until the 1960s but fell out of favour for decades, in part due to lack of sponsorship. But since the start of the 2000s it has made a come-back
Boxing used to be the most popular sport in Nigeria until the 1960s but fell out of favour for decades, in part due to lack of sponsorship. But since the start of the 2000s it has made a come-back
Boxing used to be the most popular sport in Nigeria until the 1960s but fell out of favour for decades, in part due to lack of sponsorship. But since the start of the 2000s it has made a come-back
Mandeep Jangra thumped Haerheng Wulepaer of China Dragons to register his first ever win in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) format and guided the Indian Tigers to the second consecutive victory with a 4-1 score at the National Boxing Academy here on Sunday
Indian Tigers Thrash China Dragons in WSB Tie
Mandeep Jangra thumped Haerheng Wulepaer of China Dragons to register his first ever win in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) format and guided the Indian Tigers to the second consecutive victory with a 4-1 score at the National Boxing Academy here on Sunday
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Flawless and full of his old magic, Carl Frampton put on that rarest of things - an actual boxing masterclass
Adrien Broner, right, follows through on a right to Jessie Vargas during the third round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Adrien Broner, Jessie Vargas fight to 12-round majority draw
Adrien Broner, right, follows through on a right to Jessie Vargas during the third round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Jessie Vargas, left, punches Adrien Broner during the eighth round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Adrien Broner, Jessie Vargas fight to 12-round majority draw
Jessie Vargas, left, punches Adrien Broner during the eighth round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Adrien Broner, right, punches Jessie Vargas during the eighth round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Adrien Broner, Jessie Vargas fight to 12-round majority draw
Adrien Broner, right, punches Jessie Vargas during the eighth round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Adrien Broner, right, punches Jessie Vargas during the fourth round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Adrien Broner, Jessie Vargas fight to 12-round majority draw
Adrien Broner, right, punches Jessie Vargas during the fourth round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Jessie Vargas, left, hits Adrien Broner with a left during the fourth round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Adrien Broner, Jessie Vargas fight to 12-round majority draw
Jessie Vargas, left, hits Adrien Broner with a left during the fourth round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Jessie Vargas, right, punches Adrien Broner during the 10th round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. The match ended in a draw. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Adrien Broner, Jessie Vargas fight to 12-round majority draw
Jessie Vargas, right, punches Adrien Broner during the 10th round of a welterweight boxing match Saturday, April 21, 2018, in New York. The match ended in a draw. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Indian Tigers defeated Patriot Boxing Team of Russia 3-2 in a Word Series of Boxing (WSB) tie here on Saturday evening
Indian Tigers Beat Russian Team in WSB Tie
Indian Tigers defeated Patriot Boxing Team of Russia 3-2 in a Word Series of Boxing (WSB) tie here on Saturday evening
Boxing - Conor Benn v Chris Truman - Echo Arena, Liverpool, Britain - April 21, 2018 Conor Benn after winning the fight Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Conor Benn v Chris Truman
Boxing - Conor Benn v Chris Truman - Echo Arena, Liverpool, Britain - April 21, 2018 Conor Benn after winning the fight Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Boxing - Conor Benn v Chris Truman - Echo Arena, Liverpool, Britain - April 21, 2018 Conor Benn celebrates with his father, Nigel Benn after winning the fight Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Conor Benn v Chris Truman
Boxing - Conor Benn v Chris Truman - Echo Arena, Liverpool, Britain - April 21, 2018 Conor Benn celebrates with his father, Nigel Benn after winning the fight Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

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