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Scott Coker & Spike go rogue in backing drug-busted Kimbo & “not-suitable” Sakakibara

By Zach Arnold | April 17, 2016

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I often use the word Pyrrhic when discussing combat sports. It means winning a battle but losing the war. Short-term thinking. There’s a lot of reckless behavior in combat sports. You get numb to it.

The perfect definition of Pyrrhic is booking Kimbo Slice in London after he got busted by the Texas Athletic Commission for steroids while nearly killing his opponent in the process. Addendum: Yes, of course, an awful weight cut and bad fight shape contributed mightily to Dada 5000’s health scares.

The perfect definition of Pyrrhic is a promoter and a television network continuing a relationship with a Japanese promoter who was tainted by a negative media campaign as a front man for questionable business dealings and scrubbing such history from your own TV network’s archives.


In a regular sports journalistic setting, a sports promoter pushing a drug-busted carnival act while freely associating with a business partner that your rival’s investigators labeled as “not a suitable character” would be poisonous. In combat sports, media writers will glorify such behavior. It does not mean that such behavior getting a free-pass is good. It’s self-destructive.

By booking Kimbo Slice and promoting him for a London fight in July, Bellator is daring the Texas Athletic Commission to suspend Kimbo before his July fight. If Texas does nothing, Bellator will promote the fight as planned. If Texas suspends him, Bellator has the option to either keep the fight going or yank it if the political heat becomes too great. On paper, this looks like a no-lose situation. Logically, it looks incredibly stupid and a no-win situation. We’re talking about promoting Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson in 2016 while fighters like Will Brooks are on the sidelines.

Scott Coker & Spike TV just handed public relations gifts to both the Texas Athletic Commission and to UFC. They made Texas – Texas! – look like responsible adults. Or maybe not…

And pushing drug-busted Kimbo Slice makes UFC’s recent fighter suspensions of individuals such as Yoel Romero & Lyoto Machida more legitimate. UFC took the financial hit and suspended fighters who failed drug tests. Spike TV & Scott Coker went in the opposite direction. Bellator chose a Pyrrhic victory. They’ll be promoting the useless carnival fight while sending the subliminal message to fighters that they’re the place to be if you want to not get punished for doping. Fighters First, right?

The message from Spike TV is clear to MMA fighters who are using performance drugs: we’re open for your business.

There won’t be much media pressure right now on the parties involved because most combat sports writers care more about access rather than any other life principle. Tell a story, sell a fight, live the dream. That could very well change once Bellator and Spike TV start doing business in New York and have to answer questions from legitimate media outlets as to why they are booking the drug-suspended Kimbo Slice and doing business with a person like Nobuyuki Sakakibara.

If Scott Coker & Spike TV were the NHL & NBC, NBA & ABC/Turner, or NFL & Fox/CBS/NBC, there would be a five-alarm media fire right now about what’s going on with Kimbo Slice. If the media pressure ratchets up, we’ll find out very quickly if Bellator is willing to die on a hill to defend a business relationship with a person like Nobuyuki Sakakibara. At this point, the only thing Sakakibara offers is an occasional event for booking Bellator fighters in Japan. That’s about it.

As for booking drug-suspended Kimbo Slice in London, it’s awful timing given what recently happened in Ireland with fighter Joao Carvalho. The British tabloids will not be as charitable & forgiving as their American counterparts to Bellator. Hope it’s worth it to the suits at Spike TV.

Topics: Bellator, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

6 Responses to “Scott Coker & Spike go rogue in backing drug-busted Kimbo & “not-suitable” Sakakibara”


    Sadly Rizin and One are “open for business” too.
    While I enjoyed Askren tossing around that roided russian around like a sack of laundry, I never bothered watching rizin mainly because it was just so ugly. From the roided to the max grotesqueness of gabi, to the sacrificing of Fujita and the flabby fighting, the show had nothing to be proud of, except tokoro.

    Kimbo really hit the low end when he was filmed delivering food for the “needy” on line stripper/cam girls during the build up show for that pathetic event. Just sickening.

    It’ll be nice to see him get worked over by mega punk.

    While I like One’s “overall” approach to mma better than the rest, they obviously don’t test for PEDs which is just as sad as testing but reducing the sentence when contaminated supplement is mentioned.

  2. Cutche says:

    They also picked an atrocious time to put it on, 2 home countries England and Northern Ireland are playing earlier on that day against other teams in the European Championships and the World Cup winners Germany are playing Poland when this event is on.
    There are a lot of Poles in the UK, which is probably why KSW sold out an arena last year, despite having zero TV.

    Viacom own several UK TV channels, including one of the main ones Channel 5 and Bellator has been airing on the UK version of Spike TV, on a days delay, they could probably air it on Channel 5 like they do the occasional Boxing match but going against the European Championships will hurt the ratings as most men who might have been curious will be watching the Soccer.

    The death in Ireland probably won’t hurt it as it’s mainly been covered in Ireland and just a few articles about it in the UK, Channel 5 just aired Chris Eubank Jr put a guy in a coma for several days and his legendary Dad who himself severly disabled someone years ago, to go to the body half way through the fight as your going to kill him if the ref doesn’t stop it, this continued for several more rounds and he was nearly proved right.

    Viacom are continuing with Boxing, MMA (Bellator & BAMMA) & I’m guessing Bellator Kickboxing on Channel 5 and Spike.

    • Cutche says:

      Ignore the part about going head to head with the European championships, I mistook June for July for some reason, Wimbledon will be finished as well, so they will probably have a chance of being on Channel Five.

  3. Czr says:

    The perfect definition of Pyrrhic is booking Kimbo Slice in London after he got busted by the Texas Athletic Commission for steroids while nearly killing his opponent in the process.”

    I’m sorry but Kimbo did not nearly “kill” Dada 5000. Dada 5000 nearly killed himself by being so badly out of shape.

    • Cutche says:

      While I’m sure Kimbo’s strikes didn’t help, it was clear that Dada wasn’t in shape and should never have been allowed to fight.

      The heart attack was all on Dada 3000 he should have got himself in semi decent shape but probably like most of us thought the fight wouldn’t last 3 minutes. L

  4. Blackwatch says:

    Scott Coker is consistently given a pass by the MMA media. He’s treated like some kind of genius promoter who can do no wrong, despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. John Nash at Bloody Elbow is essentially his publicist. It took someone almost dying in a fight he promoted for anyone to even begin to question his decisions, and even then a lot of people tried to pass the blame on to the athletic commission (he chose Texas for a reason).

    The fact is that most of his fighters get paid peanuts and aside from the Kimbo shows, he hasn’t done anything to improve ratings at Bellator. Booking Kimbo isnt exactly a genius move either, and no one ecer mentions that his Bellator fights are only doing about half of what he did in the UFC. He has increased costs by signing UFC castoffs and spending more on production though.

    I’m glad the MMA media at least tries to hold the UFC accountable, and I think they did a decent enough job on Bellator when Bjorn was in charge, but it’s nothing but puff pieces these days.


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