Bellator 75 takes place this Friday in Hammond, Ind., where the promotion will kick off its latest heavyweight tournament.
Ahead of his organization’s seventh season, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” show to discuss his fighters, heavyweights, contracts and more.
On heavyweights to watch: “If [Thiago] Santos can get his weight under control, and that’s an unknown -- if we see a week from Thursday, if Santos gets on the scale and can hit 265, we’ve got a really, really top-tier heavyweight on our hands. His submission game off his back, his jiu-jitsu is amazing. He’s been working on his wrestling. He’s been training with [Ricardo] Liborio down in south Florida. The guy’s got it, allegedly, all together. We’ll see. ... We’ve got some other heavyweights up and coming in this division. You’re going to see some of those guys. You’re going to see the [Alexander] Volkovs of the world, who’s [6-foot-8], coming out of Russia, who’s been knocking people out. There’s some big, exciting heavyweights.”
On whether Bellator should promote a heavyweight division: “You’ve got to keep developing. I’ve never felt like you could have a large-scale international fight promotion reaching, at this point, close to 90 countries around the world and not have a heavyweight division. We’re vested in it. We’ve been recruiting top guys. ... It’ll get there. We could have said the same thing about our 185-pound division when Hector [Lombard] sat up top, but ultimately look at the 185-pound division now and it’s just rock solid. We’ve got guys right and left. We’re going to do the same thing at heavy.”
On a welterweight to watch in the upcoming season: “If you’re looking for a welterweight, keep your eyes on [Andrey] Koreshkov. This guy is a monster out of Russia. He’s fought for us three times now. He’s a beast. He comes out of the Alexander Shlemenko school of mixed martial arts fighting. It’s all knees and elbows and spinning back fists, but he’s got a great game on the ground as well.”
On Bellator’s contracts and whether recent criticism could discourage fighters from signing with the promotion: “Ultimately contracts are very, very standard fare in this industry. They’re extremely similar whether you look at them with Bellator, Zuffa or whether you look at them at any other organization in the space.”
On what Bellator offers fighters that other promotions do not: “I think ultimately we offer a different model. We offer a model where guys have got an opportunity to make a great deal in very short order. It gives them a very, very short timeframe that they go through to be able to become known. We have a much quicker maturation process under the Bellator banner.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 59:45).