Scott Coker file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney wants to pit his lightweight champion against Strikeforce’s. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker is interested, but he’s not sure it can be done.
A matchup between Bellator titleholder Eddie Alvarez, ranked sixth in the world, and Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez, ranked second, could be one of the biggest 155-pound bouts ever outside of the UFC.
In an interview Wednesday on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show, Coker said Rebney called Strikeforce four or five months ago about making the fight, but Melendez was recovering from a broken hand suffered during his April bout against Shinya Aoki.
“Obviously our record shows that we will co-promote and we will let fighters go and exchange fighters with other leagues,” Coker said he told Rebney. “We’ve done it with M-1 with Fedor. We’ve done it with Dream. So I think our record speaks for itself on that front.”
However, Coker said one issue with co-promotion would be the timing of an Alvarez-Melendez matchup.
“We’re doing 16, 18, maybe 20 [events] in a calendar year,” Coker said. “Timing is an issue because we need our athletes to be busy in Strikeforce. But with saying that, then the other part is the business relationship, is what type of business relationship are we going to have with Bjorn and can we put it together and make it work for everybody. Because as you know, it’s not always an easy thing when you co-promote. Sometimes there can be things on both sides that show up as a deal breaker. It took me a long time to get the Dream deal done with Aoki. Probably took me about a year. So will [Alvarez-Melendez] happen? We’ll see. Would I like it to happen? Sure. But all the stars have to fall into place.”
Another hurdle -- a major one -- both Bellator and Strikeforce would have to clear is their television deals.
“They have a deal with Fox and NBC late night, and Showtime is our partner. So where does the fight air?” Coker said. “There’s your first question, and I think that’s going to be a big hurdle. Things like that -- there are probably a dozen things on the checklist, but when you start thinking where’s this thing going to air, I can tell you right now I think it’s going to be a big issue.”
In the meantime, Alvarez will fight Roger Huerta at Bellator 33 on Oct. 21. Melendez could be competing next on New Year’s Eve in Japan -- an opportunity that would result from Strikeforce’s relationship with Dream.
“It’s a solid relationship,” Coker said of his dealings with the Japanese promotion. “I think we have a clear understanding. I think we understand how each other’s companies work now and I understand the Japanese fight business. When we brought Aoki over, we had promised to bring them a top lightweight back to Dream. We said we would do that, so there is a possibility that Gilbert might fight on New Year’s Eve. It’s not 100 percent, but we’ll see how things go and then after that you’ll see [Tatsuya] Kawajiri and other fighters start coming back this way.”