Bellator MMA – Bjorn Rebney Out and Scott Coker In
By Christopher Jester
Could you imagine the UFC without the Fertittas or UFC President Dana White? It would be hard to look at the company the same. Will the same be said for Bellator? Founder, chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney is parting ways with Bellator. Announced by Viacom on Wednesday morning, this absence also includes Tim Danaher, president and COO. The two were removed from their duties because of differences in directions for the company. Viacom, who has majority ownership in company, also announced that former Strikeforce founder and CEO Scott Coker will take over Rebney’s responsibilities.
It is known that this has been a plan for Viacom for quite some time. The majority owning company disliked the vision Rebney had for the future of the company. Changes were inevitable and Viacom’s plan was to wait for Scott Coker’s contract to expire with Zuffa so that they could bring him into the fold.
This major change-up is coming after some interesting times with Bellator and Bjorn Rebney. Looked upon as a villain for the contract dispute with Eddie Alvarez, Rebney has been the face of bad jokes and poor image for a long time. Most recently, Rebney was called a “Dick Rider” by King Mo Lawal on the very first Bellator PPV. Viacom has sunk a lot of money into taking this company and removing it from a mere fledgling of an organization into the one of the premiere mixed martial arts organizations in North America. The idea with replacing Rebney with Scott Coker, who once ran the second-ranked mixed martial arts organization in Strikeforce before Zuffa bought them out is not a far-fetched move. Coker too is well beloved in the mixed martial arts community and does not nearly have as much baggage as Rebney developed.
It has been stated that Bjorn Rebney is not easily giving up control of the company that he founded. With a company like Viacom holding the reins, Rebney will be hard at work to find some way not to surrender his position. The interesting aspect of this whole deal is that Rebney will face the most scrutiny here. It is interesting that the company had recently tried to venture in pay-per-view and after a few failures, finally got one off the ground with some success. It begs to question, which failure of Rebney’s was the one that put the final nail in the coffin?
With everything on a wait-and-see basis, the Viacom move is surprising but not unwarranted. Scott Coker has the experience to make some moves with Bellator. Although, Rebney will continue to fight this transition, it’s possible this major shake-up in Bellator will only get more interesting.
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