By Zach Arnold | March 21, 2011
As close to a visual Rorschach test as you would find for an MMA interview. Scott Coker looks relieved and happy. He’s not stuttering or mumbling over words. The difference in tone in this interview versus the interviews he’s done in the past as a promoter is noticeable to a large degree.
Some notes from the 16-minute interview:
- He was asked about how the sale came about. Scott said that SVSE (Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment) wanted to focus on bringing another sports franchise to San Jose, so he had to start looking elsewhere for business partners.
- He didn’t deny that there was company debt for Strikeforce but did not answer the question directly.
- In regards to when Showtime found out about the Strikeforce sale to Zuffa, he indicated that it was on a Friday (the day before MMAFighting.com posted the video interview between Ariel Helwani & Dana White online). A meeting between him and Showtime just happened to go over the sale. (Bet that was a fun conversation.)
- Scott thinks that Zuffa will continue the Strikeforce brand and not dissolve it like the WEC brand. “A lot of great reasons to keep it going” because “this brand is worthy of continuing forward and growing in.”
- When Mr. Coker had the meeting at Zuffa HQ in Las Vegas, UFC asked him to bring his marketing team. Scott told them he would bring his marketing person. Zuffa said they would have their team of 25 at the meeting.
- He believes that Zuffa-promoted Strikeforce PPVs will start towards the end of 2011.
- When asked about fighters and agents worried about no more leverage in the marketplace: “The fighters are getting paid more today than EVER.” He further elaborated, “if you’re a star and you move the needle, you’ll get paid.”
- He spent some healthy interview time defending his hard sell of Fedor at events, saying that he met his personal marketing criteria of four points to build events around. Mr. Coker says that “we have a contract with Fedor, he is obligated to fight multiple more fights” with Strikeforce. The timing? “Fedor’s next fight will be some time in late July or mid August.”
- Scott was asked point blank if Fedor bankrupted his promotion like many others he has fought for in the past. “Fedor definitely was an expensive item but I think he added value to Strikeforce and the brand.”
- Regarding Strikeforce sending fighters to DREAM, “You know what? Why not? That’s not my decision, that’s Dana’s and Lorenzo’s decision.”
- Fighters under contract to Strikeforce will fight for the Zuffa-promoted SF events. “Everybody’s going to stay in Strikeforce” because “they have an obligation to Showtime.” He claims that they will sign new fighters and that it will be “business as usual.”
- Regarding SF getting back on CBS, “tt’s still definitely a possibility.”
- As for how the Strikeforce sale went down with Zuffa: “I had one meeting with them and then it was a little bit of chaos and letting the staff know.” When asked if he is sad or happy about the sale, “It’s a reality that’s real.”
- With fighters uneasy about the landscape of the MMA business, Scott says that UFC & Lorenzo Fertitta “care about the fighters and they care about this league.”
- Regarding whether or not UFC will head to Japan to do business with the people involved in DREAM (Sakakibara’s henchmen): “I think that we’ll have a shot to sit down and have some conversations” and he believes this because “I think I can help bridge that gap.”
- He doesn’t know if Josh Barnett or Paul Daley will fight in UFC proper again, but they will both fight in Strikeforce. Scott would like to see Nick Diaz/GSP, Jacare/Anderson Silva, and Gilbert Melendez/Frankie Edgar interpromotional match-ups.
- When the sale went down to Zuffa, Mr. Coker admitted that he didn’t talk to M-1 before or after the sale. “Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to talk to them, yet.” This prompted Bas Rutten to say, “So they found out on the Internet?” There was laughter. Scott replied, “That wasn’t on purpose, it just… I felt the need to contact other people first.”
- Mr. Coker argued against there being a monopoly or monopsony in the MMA business. “It’s not hard to be a promoter. You know, just go to California, pay $100 or $500 or whatever your license is, right? So the barrier of entry is really the easy part. And then, you know, you’ve got to have some guts, you know, and invest your money.”
It was quite an interview to listen to. I would encourage you to watch it if you get a chance.