Bellator President Scott Coker could soon be in a situation in which championship belts from four different weight classes are held by just two fighters. That could make things difficult to navigate, but he’s seemingly not stressed about it.
At Bellator 206 on Sept. 29, welterweight champion Rory MacDonald (20-4 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) will attempt to become the first simultaneous two-division title holder in company history when he challenges middleweight champ Gegard Mousasi (44-6-2 MMA, 2-0 BMMA).
Just two weeks later at Bellator 207 on Oct. 12, light heavyweight champ Ryan Bader (25-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) takes the next step in his quest to win heavyweight gold against Matt Mitrione (14-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) in the semifinals of the Bellator heavyweight grand prix.
If MacDonald and Bader both win, the organization could have a conundrum on its hands. Deserving contenders exist in all four weight classes, and finding ways to put on enough title fights to keep the divisions healthy would be a challenge. Coker said he will cross that bridge when he gets there, though, and wouldn’t make any definitive statements about future plans.
“That’s something we’ll sit down and talk to each fighter (about),” Coker told reporters, including MMAjunkie, during a Bellator 206 conference call Wednesday. “I think they should be treated independent of each other. Rory will enter the 170-pound tournament after this fight with Gegard. We’ll talk to Rory about how he felt. A lot of it depends on what the fighter wants to do. That door is open. We’re not going to close it, but we’ll take it on a case-by-case basis.”
One thing Coker does know, however, is that he has fighters on his roster who want to remain active. Figuring out the timetables to set up an adequate number of title defenses could prove problematic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
Coker said it could work so long as MacDonald and/or Bader are healthy enough to fight regularly.
“It depends,” Coker said. “That situation depends on the other fighter when they’re ready. But if it’s getting bottled up, we’ll definitely have a conversation. In Rory’s case, especially if things work out for Rory, he wants to stay busy. I know Gegard wants to stay busy. Everyone wants to stay busy. So as long as they’re not injured we’re going to keep moving and keep those guys busy.”
MacDonald, who meets Mousasi in the Bellator 206 headliner that streams on DAZN from SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., said he relishes the chance to be a dual-division champ. The recent years of MacDonald’s career have not lived up to his expectations due to inactivity, and if Bellator allows it, he sees defending two belts as a way to make up for lost time. However, he knows it’s a somewhat complicated situation.
“I would like to (defend both belts),” MacDonald said. “I would have to talk to Bellator, because I have the obligation to the welterweight tournament. That’s going to take about a year. And the other middleweights are going to want the crack at the championship fight. We’ll have to see. If I became the middleweight champion I would prefer to stay that way. I wouldn’t want to get stripped, but I understand that I have an obligation at welterweight doing that tournament. We’ll see.”
- Bellator 205 pre-event facts: A.J. McKee looks to extend record winning streak to dozen
- Melvin Manhoef vs. Chidi Njokuani headlines Bellator 210 on Nov. 30
- UFC: Despite Conor McGregor's tweets, UFC 229 press conference still closed to public
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Bellator boss Scott Coker will deal with dual-champions situation 'case-by-case' if it happens