Bellator cools rage in the cage in wake of COVID-19

UNITED STATES (AP) – Bellator President Scott Coker spent time during the coronavirus pandemic like so many others, binging on Netflix and catching up on ‘Tiger King’.

“That’s a crazy show,” Coker said.

Coker would love for mixed martial arts fans to catch up on his style of cage fighting in the promotion he runs through Bellator’s app or its YouTube channel. But live fights, right now in this climate? Hard pass.

Bellator has postponed all fights until the Bellator 242 card on May 9 that features Ryan Bader defending the light heavyweight championship against Vadim Nemkov in San Jose, California. Even that event could be in jeopardy after President Donald Trump extended federal guidelines recommending people stay home for another 30 days, until the end of April, to prevent the spread of the virus. Bellator’s next big card could go down for the count.

“I feel like the right thing to do is wait,” Coker said. “When the state of California says, ‘You’re good to go,’ when we get a call from (the California State Athletic Commission) that says you’re good to go, then we’ll go. I think we’re waiting for the green light from the government.”

Coker had considered running its March 16 card with a Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire — Pedro Carvalho Bellator 241 main event at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut without fans until he decided to postpone the card. It has not yet been rescheduled.

“We’ll make up these fights,” Coker said. “If we miss any other fights while we’re waiting, we’ll make them up.”

With 241 in doubt, Bellator went ahead and paid all fighters, officials, judges, crew and any essential personnel connected to the card.

“It was quite expensive, well into the seven figures,” Coker said. “Revenue you can make up, and that’s what we’re going to do. I think there will be an impact, even if we make up these events.”

Bellator also has a card scheduled for May 16 in London.

“I feel like there’s a possibility everything will be fine by the end of April,” Coker said. “If it’s not, then we’ll have to push the fights back. That’s a tough call.”

File photo shows Ryan Bader squaring off with Vadim Nemkov at a news conference in New York City. PHOTO: AP