LONDON – As a fight promoter, seeing your champion dethroned by a fighter from another promotion could be considered a problem. But where some people see problems, Bellator president Scott Coker sees opportunities.
MMA Junkie briefly caught up with Coker during a chaotic fight week in London and asked if Darrion Caldwell (13-3 MMA, 10-2 BMMA) losing his bantamweight title to Rizin FF’s Kyoji Horiguchi (28-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) would present promotional challenges for his organization moving forward.
“See, you have it all wrong. Kyoji is a Bellator fighter now, too,” Coker said. “I’m going to put my arm right around Kyoji like this and say, ‘Hey, I’ll see you next year!’”
Coker explained that, far from being a problem, Horiguchi’s title win only helps cement the working partnership between Bellator and Rizin, with the unique situation created by Horiguchi’s victory activating a scenario already agreed between Coker and Rizin president Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
“We made a deal with Sakakibara,” Coker said. “If (Caldwell) would have won (the first fight with Horiguchi in Japan for the Rizin title), I would have sent D.C. once a year to fight in Rizin and defend his belt.
“So now he has to send Horiguchi over once a year. So now Horiguchi is part of the family, and it’s not us vs. them.”
Coker paid tribute to Horiguchi but admitted he thought Caldwell had done enough to earn the decision, citing only some periods of inactivity on the mat as areas that may have swung the contest in favor of the Japanese star.
“In all seriousness, he’s an amazing talent,” Coker said of Horiguchi. “My guy’s a tough, tough dude. I think my guy won. I think he out-controlled him, hit him. But my guy was stalling sometimes, too, just kinda laying there. And in MMA you can’t just lay there. You’ve got to do some stuff.
“So to me, hopefully Horiguchi at one point will give him a rematch. But in the meantime, Horiguchi is our guy, part of the Bellator family, and he’s our champion. So welcome to the family!”
For more on the upcoming Bellator schedule, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Scott Coker: Kyoji Horiguchi's title win means he's 'part of the Bellator family' now