Bellator MMA has recently signed several notable free agents, including former UFC champions Josh Barnett and Cris Cyborg. Speaking to the media ahead of Bellator 228, Bellator president Scott Coker discussed the Bellator debuts of these two stars.
He started with Barnett, explaining that he’d like the heavyweight veteran to make his debut in Japan on a card co-promoted with RIZIN.
“The reason why we haven’t announced it is there’s nothing finalized for Japan,” Coker said (video via MMA Fighting). “If we can get that fight together in Japan, with RIZIN, we’d like him to fight there.”
One option that is frequently mentioned for Barnett is a fight with Fedor Emelianenko. Fans have been clamoring to see this fight since the pair were briefly scheduled to meet under the Affliction banner in 2009, and now that they’re both under contract with Bellator, the timing seems perfect.
That being said, Coker doesn’t like this matchup for Barnett’s Bellator debut.
“There will be a time for that, but I don’t think that will be his first fight back,” the Bellator boss said of a Barnett vs. Fedor fight.
Cris Cyborg, meanwhile, is expected to get an immediate shot at Bellator featherweight champ Julie Budd in her promotional debut. Coker confirmed this is still the plan.
“That’s going to be special,” Coker said of the matchup. He also mentioned that he hopes to promote an event in Budd’s native Vancouver in the future, though he’s had some difficult in terms of scheduling.
Coker also discussed former UFC stars Cat Zingano and Rashad Evans, who recently became a free agents. He says he believes his team has reached out to both about potentially signing with Bellator.
“I think my guys are taking to her,” he said of Zingano. “Any free agent that’s out there, we’re talking to everyone.”
“I think my guys talked to him,” he said later when asked about Evans. “But there hasn’t been any serious discussions.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/27/2019.