Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney talks Lombard, Hieron, what separates him from Dana White and more


Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney was gracious enough to give some time to MMASucka prior to the Bellator 67 event, where he went in-depth on a variety of subjects. The Bellator boss held back on nothing, and was happy to give his point of view on everything going on within his company, including the recent departure of middleweight champion Hector Lombard:

It was really just a business decision. You know everything that we’ve done since we launched on ESPN Deportes, it was based on objective data…  it was always based on real data, real numbers, looking at it like a business. So, the UFC has a pay-per-view model and we don’t and in order to monetize the offer they made to Hector, they will have to put him in that pay-per-view vehicle and it will have to do very big numbers. We are not right now doing pay-per-view, we may in a year or two, but for the time being we don’t. I think you’ll see Hector do real well in the UFC, I think he’ll win their middleweight title. I think he’ll beat Anderson Silva and you’ll see it on pay-per-view.  It’s just not part of our model right now. I wish him the best, he’s been great with us. He’s still a friend of mine, it’s just I understand you’ve got to go where the best opportunity is from an economic perspective today because you never know what’s going to happen in your next fight. God bless him, he’s a good dude. He’s going to do extremely well over there.

Another ex-employee of Rebney’s recently made headlines with his exit from the promotion. Jay Hieron was critical of his ex-boss and ex-organization, particularly about having to repay his signing bonus upon being released from his contract. Rebney was complimentary towards Hieron, but laid out the business aspects behind his decision.

I’ve always liked Jay and I was a fan of Jay’s for a long time. He was sitting on the bench in Strikeforce for a long time and never really seemed to get his shot. My promise to him was  ‘Look, come here you’ll get your shot and it’ll be all up to you. It won’t be up to anyone else, it won’t be any politics or golden boys, it will literally just be you and if you win you’ll get there.’ We are a tournament-based organization and when we sign somebody, particularly when we give them a signing bonus, we expect that they’re going to participate in the tournament format. Well he participated in one tournament he got by in some very close fights and then lost to our champion and we made him the offer to come back. We said ‘Man, you were the finalist and had a good fight with Askren, so come back’ and he didn’t want to come back. Then it reaches a stalemate. It’s just a difficult situation. I like Jay, but it’s a difficult spot. We’re tournament-based and if you’re going to fight for us you’ve got to be in that format. If you don’t want to be participating in that format, if you’ve only had four fights of what is literally an eight or nine fight deal, we’d be happy to let you go somewhere else but you can’t keep the signing bonus with it. He’s got some gas left in the tank, he’s at the latter stages of his career but hopefully he does really well wherever he goes.

Rebney also provided insight into any possible tweaks to the Bellator tournament format, the upcoming Bellator reality TV show, Ben Askren’s comments on Canadian fans, as well as what separates him from Dana White. The full fifteen minute interview is a must-listen for any MMA fan and an outstanding glimpse into the mind of one of the sport’s most powerful men.

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