President and CEO of Bellator, Bjorn Rebney was kind enough to talk with MMASucka on a variety of topics. Listen into MMASucka radio for more of the interview and topics that aren’t discussed here.
The first card of Bellator 10, was a big event for your company and many people tuned into the show. What were your thoughts on the 1st event to open up your 10th season?
I think it was great. Rampage and I constructed a plan together to get him back to the place where he was considered one of the best light heavyweights in the sport. Rampage keeps ending them in the first round and is getting better and better. We peaked at huge high numbers which is 1.3 or 1.4 million during his fight. King Mo picked up a big win and the final between Mo and Rampage is going to be amazing. We sold out the Mohegan Sun and that’s something we have never done before. It was a great start to the season.
Touching on the King Mo and Rampage feud; many have said that that the after fight dust up was entirely scripted. Did Bellator have any involvement in producing this scene?
That is completely and utterly ridiculous. What we did is we talked to Mike Masooley who is one of the commissioners from the Mohegan Sun. We told him that after the fight if Rampage did indeed win, we are going to bring King Mo in and just to be aware of the situation. We did have security but we just wanted to make sure everybody knew what could happen and understand what could evolve. Mike understood and that was literally it.
Last year King Mo and Rampage allegedly, squashed their so called “beef”. But now both of them now in the same tournament it seems that whole peace conversation has been pushed to the waste side. Is this hate more of pushing Bellator or is this anger and hostility very real?
Both of the guys really do hate each other. They hated each other for 2 years and I had to ask them to squash their squabble at least publicly. When TNA signed them I had to do that because they would be working together in a TNA ring. They squashed it for a short period of time, but now it’s resurfaced. The only reason they became civil with each other because I asked them to in favor of TNA and Dixie Carter.
When they first signed with TNA Impact, there was a lot of attention of how they would transition from MMA to Sports Entertainment. What is the current relationship between Bellator and TNA and could we see more fighters enter the ring?
Dixie and I talk pretty regularly. Now that Rampage’s fight is over and didn’t get injured, we are going to really rev up the wrestling training. We have coaches and trainers traveling to Southern California to help him get through the process of becoming a well-rounded professional wrestler. The essence of what wrestling is, that it’s a real skill and you have to learn the craft. We hope he adapt to it quickly and after the May fight, Rampage will be doing full blown matches.
Bellator and TNA have been doing plenty of cross promotion over the last year. Does it ever worry you that King Mo and Rampage could be injured in the wrestling ring and in turn make it difficult for you to put cards together?
I mean I think about it but the reality is this: Guys like Rampage and Mo, they are world class athletes. If they aren’t doing TNA Impact they are training MMA. They aren’t going to be sitting on the lazy boy watching COPS, they will always be active. The power of the Impact TV show is amazing. Both want to do it and it’s a risk you have to assume and take. These are athletes that takes risks and at times they will get injured.
Bellator has always been known for the tournament format but recently you have been getting away from that style and putting more single fights together. Will there ever be a time where Bellator moves completely away from the tournament format?
I don’t know, but it’s completely here to stay. What are you seeing now is what the format is bearing fruit to. I mean the Rampage fight was a tournament fight, the Mo was a tournament fight. So many fights that we have put together is part of tournament competition. I think the names and the fights are getting better people forget that the tournament structure is still intact.
Everything is earned through the tournament not just given it you.
Pat Curran lost his last fight, but is slated for another Championship shot next week in Hammond, Indiana against Straus. There has been a lot of criticism on why Curran is getting the shot even though he didn’t go through the tournament rounds. Is there a specific reason why Curran got the immediate title rematch?
I had to weigh and balance a lot of factors. Frodo Khasbulaev was the next in line, but he is having a lot of visa issues getting into the country. Next fighter would have been Pitbull but he fought for us literally 5 times on Spike-TV. Curran and Straus, this is their trilogy fight. Given how high Pat was on many rankings I think he was the number 2 in this division and I think this fight is the best match-up for us at the current time.Plus with Pat fighting in his backyard it’s going to be a great trilogy fight.