The Bellator 223 press conference held today at Leicester Square in London answered many questions about the future of the promotion, particularly in the European market.
Scott Coker, the CEO of Bellator and a veteran fight promoter, made his thoughts very clear. During the conference, he discussed the expansion of the promotion on the continent next year:
“This year we’re scheduled to do 6 fights, next year we’re going to do 10-12,” he said. “You guys already know we promote in different cities throughout Europe which in 2020, I think we’re going to include them in the European series so it will be a much wider series with much broader TV distribution throughout Europe.”
Emerging Markets and distribution
There are many emerging markets in Europe such as Italy and The Netherlands, and very loyal fan bases in more established Bellator markets like the UK and Ireland. Therefore, it seems logical to increase TV distribution and capitalize on new fighting talent in these areas. In fact, some of the most exciting fighters on the Bellator roster originate from Europe including James Gallagher and Paul Davey. Both fighters will be competing at this Saturday’s card in London.
The localization of events will contribute to an increase in fight cards, and likely promote loyal, repeated viewership. This helps Bellator develop their understanding of target demographics and tailor marketing efforts based on their reach. Coker also discusses the benefits of localized events for fighters:
“When I look at the talent..there’s so much talent in the UK, there’s so much talent throughout Europe and the decision to break it down and go into the community and [create] localized events is really good for the up and coming talent because they will get there much quicker and they will have more opportunity to fight guys that are ranked and get there sooner. To me, this is already in effect and working, it’s just how fast do we want to get there, but we’re plugging along quite well I feel.”
US vs Europe
There are many potential benefits of localized events for the next generation of fighters. However, fighters of the past arguably outgrew European companies and crossed the pond to try and make it big. Michael Bisping and Conor McGregor are prime examples of European fighters who’s careers snowballed in America. Coker intends on cultivating fighters shoulder to shoulder with international competition.
“Some of our fighters will fight in America, that’s just how it is, but then some of our big fighters will fight here [London], and some of the big fighters will be from the UK,” the Bellator boss said. “We have tremendous talent from top to bottom in the United States… but there’s also a tremendous amount of talent here so we’re going to fight everybody. We’re going to make fights that fans want to see, we’re going to make fights that are very interesting and make good television.”
Entertaining fights, great matchups and star talent seems to be the winning formula for all promotions. As a result, Coker is very optimistic about the future growth of the company. During an interview with the Telegraph, he said:
“I don’t have all the numbers, but from what I’m hearing the numbers are good. We want the numbers to be astronomical. We will build towards that. The London fight will be a good reference. I think Sky has been great for us. We have the best distribution in the UK.”
Headlining Saturday’s Bellator 223 event is a middleweight title bout between current champion Gegard Mousasi (45-6-2) and the undefeated Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Rafael Lovato Jr. (9-0).
Paul Daley (40-17-2) will be fighting Erick Silva (20-10) in a welterweight bout. Also, Irish prospect James Gallagher (8-1) will be competing against Jeremiah Labiano (12-6).
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/20/2019.