Bellator 238 goes down this Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
The event features the promotional debut of Cris Cyborg as she meets current Bellator featherweight champion Julia Budd in the main event. Bellator 238 is the first event for the organization since its co-promotion with RZIN for New Year’s Eve.
Bellator President Scott Coker, as always, is on the scene and took a few moments to reflect on that trip to Japan with The Scrap’s Drake Riggs.
“It was a magic moment because I felt that this is the Mecca of fighting. It’s the Saitama Super Arena and it’s like Yankee Stadium. It was a $2 million dollar gate for us so it was a good piece of business,” Coker stated.
The co-promotion between RIZIN and Bellator was one of the biggest stories in MMA during 2019. Elite fighters from two top promotions collided in a way that we rarely see in the fight game these days. It was a call back to the olden days of combat sports. Coker believes that not only should it continue moving forward, but he’d like to expand who’s involved.
“There are other leagues too. And I think eventually we could maybe have a World Cup at some point. Yeah, that will be a lot of fun. I think the timing is going to be an issue, but when it opens up like that and somebody wants to do it will definitely send our fighters.”
Coker came away from the events with a respect for RIZIN’s roster. He was impressed with Rena Kubota’s ability to flip the script and get the victory over Lindsey VandZant in their rematch. He saw excitement from the Asakura brothers and stated that he would love to have them fight some Bellator’s top guys. Kana Watanabe and Tenshin Nasukakwa were also mentioned among specific fighters Coker would like to work with in the future, if he could do so in a “respectable way” with RIZIN President, Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
One fighter he will not be working with for the foreseeable future is the former RIZIN champion and recent UFC signee, Jiri Prochazka. Prochazka’s 10-fight winning streak made him one of the hottest free agents in the sport after his contract with RIZIN was up.
The UFC won the bidding war but according to Coker, he was never very interested in securing a deal with the Czechian destroyer.
“Listen, honestly, I wish him [Jiri Prochazka] luck. And I got nothing bad to say, he’s a good fighter. I’m sure he’ll do okay. But I think we would have had a very tough division for him. I mean, if he had come here, I don’t think he’d have done very well, fighting our top guys. You know, the Phil Davis’ of the world or the Ryan Baders of the world or even if Gegard [Mousasi] moved up to 205, and the list goes on and on.”
“I think he’d have a very hard time here. I think he’s okay, but he’s not gonna move the needle here in America. So you know, I wish him well and I was actually just doing a favor for RIZIN because they asked us, ‘can you please talk to him?’ and at first we were like, ‘we don’t need him’ you know? But he wanted to go to UFC and I always believe that fighters should go where they want to go. Please, knock yourself out.”