While Dana White and the UFC are determined to keep things running during the coronavirus pandemic, Bellator boss Scott Coker has pumped the brakes in the name of safety.
Coker has postponed a host of Bellator events, and seems to be legitimately concerned with what is happening in the world right now.
“It started with the March 13 event getting postponed,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “We were all in New York, and the virus that week was just starting to hit, and New York was a hotbed for the spreading of the virus, so we decided to shut it down because it was the right decision. I told (everyone) to go home and spend time with their families, and we’ll regroup when the time is right. This is something I thought would be down for a month or a couple weeks, and we could go back to work. But it’s a very serious situation, and a lot of people have passed away. A lot of people won’t be back. It’s just heart-wrenching to see the hundreds of thousands of people.
“You talk about the people infected and the people passing away, it’s a serious situation. So I told my guys, ‘Look, there’s a time for fighting and putting on these events. There’s a time to be home with your family hunkered down and be safe, because at the end of the day I want my team to be safe and healthy.”
While the safety-minded Coker has not been afraid to pull the plug on Bellator’s planned events, he is slowly developing a plan to get the promotion back on our screens. The Bellator boss is targeting a July return, with closed-door events from a sound sage somewhere in Hollywood—most likely the Paramount or CBS lot.
“We do have a plan, and the plan really is to come back sometime in July on a soundstage either in the Paramount lot or the CBS lot, and start doing fights in a closed environment with no audience, at least for the first three, four months,” Coker said. “Because even if they say audiences can come back, I think it’s going to take time, because people don’t have the confidence. The consumers are not going to want to come back to a sporting event and be around thousands of people right from the beginning. It’s going to take time to earn people’s trust that this virus is on its way out.
“But in the meantime we’re going to keep promoting live events, creating content, putting these big fights on, and it’ll be a closed environment. It’ll be on Paramount, it’ll be on DAZN, and the replays will be on CBS Sports Network.”
What are your thoughts on the way Scott Coker is leading Bellator through the coronavirus pandemic?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/24/2020.