Bjorn Rebney says he hasn't given WSOF's challenge much thought. | Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Bellator MMA will kick off its 10th season next month on Spike TV, leading off with a four-man light heavyweight tournament at Bellator 110.
In advance of the Feb. 28 season premiere, Bellator CEO and founder Bjorn Rebney joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” to discuss a variety of topics, ranging from Quinton Jackson’s tournament participation to World Series of Fighting’s publicized pay-per-view challenge, as well as Eddie Alvarez’s upcoming rubber match with Michael Chandler.
On convincing “Rampage” to join the tournament:
“I treated Quinton like a partner. He and I had a lot of projects we wanted to develop with the [Spike TV], and I think it was just a matter of [continuing] to meet and talk. We were able to put together the perfect people in Southern California to take care of his knees. We got him back healthy, and the pain wasn’t there, and he could wrestle and slam guys again and do the things he used to love to do. Finally, he came around to [the tournament]... but it took time to get there. If I had come to him early on and said, ‘Hey, let’s get into a tournament and fight repetitively over a short period of time and shoot for a world title,’ I think he would have looked at me like I had rocks in my head. It was a matter of taking slow steps and getting him healthy.”
On whether Alvarez and Chandler’s rubber match can live up to the first two fights:
“The best answer to that came from Ed, when he came to the press conference as a favor to me [after the Nov. 2 rematch]. His comment was that sometimes when two guys get in the cage, they can’t help but have an amazing fight. Sometimes you get [two complementary styles] inside the cage, and Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez are just made for each other in terms of creating incredible fights at a world-class level that are heartfelt and competitive and crazy. My gut says that maybe if [a great fight] happened once and then didn’t happen again, I would be a little doubtful, but having had the first two fights -- they’re two of the best fights I have ever seen.”
On whether he is sick of talking about the WSOF’s pay-per-view challenge:
“I haven’t really talked about it that much. I have been hyper-focused on this upcoming season... My days are full to the brim with 18 or 19 hours of legitimate work. That’s where my focus is. The company has exploded over the last year since we launched on Spike. I knew it was a perfect platform. The ratings have been consistently growing, so that’s where 100 percent of my focus is. I used to watch and go to small shows and amateur events, and I literally don’t have time to do it. I just don’t give it much thought.”
On WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz, who issued the challenge:
“I’ve never met him. I don’t know him. I actually didn’t know his name until questions started to come up four or five days ago. There have been a lot of organizations that have come and gone over the years, and different folks take different approaches, but I’ve never met the guy. I’ve never met anybody from the World Series of Fighting, and I’ve never seen one of their shows.”
On ex-Bellator talent fighting in the WSOF:
“It sounds counterintuitive, but for guys like Steve Carl and Georgi Karakhanyan and [Jessica Aguilar] and some of the people who were [in Bellator] and then got released, for them to be able to continue to pursue that dream and go [to WSOF] and win a title quickly and make a living doing exactly what they want to do, that is nothing but a good thing. The [Resurrection Fighting Alliances] of the world and the World Series of Fightings and the King of the Cages, there is an important role for them. They’re giving fighters an opportunity to make a living, which ultimately helps everyone who likes MMA.”