Bellator MMA is in the midst of some major leadership changes. Today, company founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney and President Tim Danaher are out of the organization.
Spike TV issued a press release on Wednesday to this end which will remove Rebney from the company he founded. While there were a number of rumors floating around regarding who his successor will be, it was confirmed later in the day that former Strikeforce head Scott Coker will be the new man in charge.
Rebney issued a statement regarding the change as follows:
It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I am leaving the company I founded. I have great pride in having turned my vision into reality, a thriving business with television distribution to over 140 countries around the world, a partnership with one of the world's largest entertainment giants and wide array of sponsors, partners, and strategic allies all over the globe. This has been a wonderful eight-plus years of creation, development, and success. I will miss the courageous, strong and dedicated fighters I have had the pleasure of promoting, and equally, I will miss the incredibly hard working, remarkable team that has become a family for me over the years. Viacom and Tim and I differed in our views of the right strategic direction for Bellator, but Tim and I both wish them well."
Kevin Kay of Spike TV also commented, adding:
I would like to thank Bjorn and Tim on behalf of Spike and Viacom for their dedication and hard work building Bellator from the ground u p. They worked tirelessly in getting Bellator to where it is today. They were great partners to work with, and we wish them all the best."
Later in the day, Bellator made it official that former Strikeforce head Scott Coker will be taking over as their new president. With that hiring, more change is coming for the #2 MMA organization in the US as they move further from the tournament format that the organization was based on.
Spike TV president Kevin Kay commented in a press release announcing the hire, saying "We are excited to have Scott Coker lead us in a new direction as we evolve the league format from a tournament based organization to a more traditional model with big fights."
Coker led Strikeforce up until 2011, when the organization was sold off to Dana White's UFC group. He kept a working relationship with UFC, but those terms ended in March of this year. Because of a non-compete clause, he was unavailable to be signed to any other organization until now.
The removal of Rebney and Danaher has been talked about for a long time based on various reports, so this news is not completely shocking. It is, however a major shakeup in the organization. The announced plan to move to a more fight-based rather than tournament-based format is also something that has been in the works for a while as well and the proof is in some of the fights that have been set up and the various matchmaking moves the company has made recently.
Whether this all ends up being good or bad, one thing is for sure - the current MMA #2 in the US is going to have a very different look going forward.