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Coker Full Steam Ahead with Bellator Dynamite

Kristian Ibarra, Today's Knockout

SAN JOSE — Bellator: Dynamite 1 (or Bellator 142, if you prefer the traditional format) is going to be different. But, like, different in a good way. We think. We hope.

Not only will the event play home to a four-man, one-night tournament to determine the next man in line for a shot at the 205-pound title, but Scott Coker and the powers that be at Bellator also managed to convince GLORY Kickboxing to co-host the event.

Side by side the cage and ring will sit for all the folks sitting inside San Jose’s SAP Center to enjoy. Think two-ring circus, but without the negative connotations associated with circuses.

“When I look at the format, I like it. I like having the ring and the cage there,” Coker told Today’s Knockout. “We set it up about four months ago to see the sight lines and everything.

“Really, though, it’s going to be up to the fighters and [if] they’re going to have great fights. If we have great fights, it’s going to be a great night of entertainment. Hopefully we have great ratings, too.”

Clearing that hurdle was big for Bellator, as the promotion not only looks to separate its brand from the ultra-popular UFC, but also seeks to surpass the sport’s top dog.

Next was convincing four of the promotion’s top light heavyweights to take part in a tournament that would see at least two of them compete in two different bouts before they were allowed to go home (“allowed” in the contractual sense — nobody’s being held hostage here).

As far as the competitors were concerned, there wasn’t much fuss — if any, at all — in agreeing to the tournament. As far as Coker sees it, it was the most exciting option.

He told Today’s Knockout:

“I grew up competing in martial arts tournaments. I grew up watching martial arts tournaments. I grew up working for K-1, which is the greatest tournament for kickboxing. And then I watched PRIDE mature.

“We have the experience of putting these tournaments together and a four-man tournament, I think, is doable. An eight-man tournament would have been really, really difficult for [the fighters] to continue on.”

And while the tournament winner is guaranteed an opportunity to claim Bellator’s light heavyweight crown, there’s no guarantee on who they’ll be facing.

That much will be determined once Liam McGeary and Tito Ortiz go to work in the main event of the Sept. 19 show.

McGeary — who went 9-0 in his first nine bouts before earning a shot a the title then-held by ex-champion Emmanuel Newton — wasn’t all too pleased with the matchup. As far as he saw it, Ortiz — who’s only defeated an undersized Alexander Shlemenko and Stephan Bonner in his time with Bellator — didn’t deserve it, waltzing in with nothing but his decade-old UFC accolades to warrant an opportunity for Bellator gold.

Coker disagrees, to say the least.

“Tito’s already done it all. Come on, the guy’s been underestimated for the last 10 years of his career. How many fights has he been in when they say, ‘oh he’ll never win this fight, or he’ll never win that fight?’ Then he comes back and wins. To me, he needed this mountain to climb.

“When Tito Ortiz wants to fight for your belt, that’s a great day.”

So here we sit, only about a day away from what is pegged to be the biggest day in the history of the promotion, wondering what Dynamite is actually going to look like. Expecting about 12,500 people to fill the venue otherwise known as the “Shark Tank,” one can only have her/his fingers crossed that it goes about as well as Coker says it will.

It will — I think. I hope.




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