Bellator MMA plans to develop new markets across the pond and believe Conor McGregor’s trainer, John Kavanagh will be instrumental in achieving this.
The company’s CEO,Scott Coker joined the Viacom-owned business in 2014 and has been pushing hard to develop the brand. Part of his plan has been to capitalize in areas where he believes the UFC is flagging. Bellator wants to cultivate international talent and emerging markets that are currently neglected. Coker intends on investing in the MMA market in UK and Ireland as he believes this is a “business opportunity that UFC is not taking advantage of.”
Business Insider sat down with Coker recently at the ODEON Luxe cinema in London to pick the president’s brain and reveal the secrets of the company’s projected growth.
One of Bellator’s plans is a European MMA Series that will host six annual events across the continent. Bellator has already been to the UK three times in 2019. In contrast, the UFC has only appeared once in the UK this year, with UFC London in March.
David Green, head of Bellator Europe revealed plans to exploit Russia and Sweden specifically to create a “fully rounded MMA scene”. However, their expansion plans aren’t exclusive to Europe. Green and Coker intend on building MMA events around the globe and criticized the UFC’s lack thereof.
“That’s the same all over the world for them,” Coker told Business Insider.
“They go to Japan like once a year, then they leave. They go to Croatia once a year, then leave. Their business has been to build US pay-per-view,” said Coker.
By localizing entertainment in new territories, the Bellator team seemingly intends on nurturing homegrown talent, which many other companies are failing to do outside the US.
Bellator have their sights set on creating the next Conor McGregor, and who better to help than “The Notorious'” coach, John Kavanagh. The former champ’s trash-talking antics, undeniable talent and whirlwind career have captivated audiences and achieved a cult-like status for the star. If Bellator can spot and develop upcoming talent, they may be responsible for the next MMA superstar of McGregor’s caliber.
Coker believes that McGregor and Kavanagh, “captured the national imagination in Ireland.”
“[Kavanagh has] got the special sauce,” said Coker.
Kavanagh believes McGregor’s success has increased the popularity of MMA and will inspire new talent. However, he doesn’t forget that McGregor’s career in the UFC has opened many doors.
“Conor, as he says himself, kicked the door in and opened up a lot of opportunities for all of the Ireland-based fighters, whether that was on UFC or Bellator, in shows around the world,” he said. “He was such a big persona, personality, and inspiration for a lot of fighters,”
According to Scott Coker, Kavanagh is a close friend of Bellator and they intend on showcasing Kavanagh’s other fighters. Kavanagh corroborated that he has “a lot of fighters” involved in Bellator and intends on “making an impact” in the new European series.
“Without being overly dramatic, it has been really life-changing for me and the team,” he said.
When asked who he prefers to work with. Kavanagh was hesitant to take sides. “Now you’re trying to get me in trouble,” he said to Business Insider.
“I have plenty of guys in the UFC roster … yeah, I have to tread this line a little bit careful about my employer somewhat. I enjoy working with both. I have a hell of a lot more fighters with Bellator, more connection with Bellator. But I do have good relationships with the UFC and have some good fighters on their cards.”
The expansion of Bellator events worldwide is certainly good news for MMA fans. Would you like the UFC to deliver more outside the US? Let us know in the comments!
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/2/2019.