Bellator Announces Plans to Promote Kickboxing Events in 2016

By Tristen Critchfield Feb 18, 2016
Bellator will be returning to Scott Coker’s original promoter roots by getting into the kickboxing business.

The California-based promotion announced during a press conference on Thursday that it is moving into the kickboxing realm with events both in the U.S. and internationally planned for the future. The promotion’s kickboxing venture will be known as Bellator Kickboxing.

“In 1985 we started a kickboxing series that aired on ESPN. This was before ESPN had Major League Baseball or the NFL. It was Australian Rules Football, SportsCenter and martial arts programming, which was our kickboxing,” Coker said. “…It evolved from full-contact karate to kickboxing and eventually MMA came. But throughout the ‘90s I always loved throwing in kickboxing, worked with promoters all over the world, had the chance to work with many organizations. Today we’re happy to announce that Spike TV and Bellator and our whole operation is going to the kickboxing business.”

The first such card will take place in Italy on April 16, with a bout between Melvin Manhoef and Italian kickboxer Alexandru Negrea serving as the headliner for the kickboxing portion of the card. The kickboxing bouts will air on Spike TV after the MMA event on the same day.

While that event will feature both MMA and kickboxing bouts, Coker said that future events will feature kickboxing exclusively.

“You’re gonna see some fight cards that have both,” Coker said. “Sometimes you’ll see standalone kickboxing events. You will see fights in the U.S. and internationally as well.”

Among those who will eventually compete for Bellator Kickboxing will be Kevin Ross, Raymond Daniels, Joe Schilling, Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez and Anastasia Yankova, to name a few. The women will compete primarily at 125 pounds, Coker revealed, with additional weight classes for the men to be revealed at a later date.

Bellator MMA first threw its hat into the kickboxing ring this past September with “Dynamite,” which saw a card that featured both mixed martial arts and kickboxing bouts in San Jose, Calif. Bellator partnered with Glory Kickboxing for that event; Spike TV and Glory have since parted ways, as the kickboxing promotion currently airs on ESPN3 and UFC Fight Pass.

While Glory-Spike relationship ultimately faltered, Coker is confident that Bellator can succeed promoting kickboxing on its own.

“If you look at our roster we have a lot of fighters that can cross over and do both,” Coker said. “When you look at the TV side they liked having kickboxing as part of their programming. We can do a great job, have the fan base that Bellator has already and really market to them and speak to them…”

Bellator also revealed that Mustapha Haida will move up in weight to challenge Karim Ghajii for his ISKA belt on the April 16 card. Daniels, Ross and Denise Kielholtz are also scheduled to compete; opponents will be announced in the near future. Meanwhile, Patricky Freire and Brent Primus have been added to the MMA bill against yet-to-be-named foes.


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