As someone who greatly enjoys the sport of mixed martial arts, I want to see the best fights. If this sport were all about fighting, a co-promotion between Strikeforce and Bellator would be a great thing. Seeing fights like Gilbert Melendez against Eddie Alvarez and Nick Diaz against Ben Askren would make for great television.
Unfortunately, as we've learned so many times in the past, and as I've said before, MMA is 10 percent sport and 90 percent business. It's for this reason that a potential co-promotion between Strikeforce and Bellator makes little sense.
The idea behind co-promotions is to have the arrangement benefit both sides. In this case, as the bigger promotion, Strikeforce would have little to gain but everything to lose. I don't blame Bellator and Bjorn Rebney for continually squawking and making this an issue. It brings them much-needed exposure and press. In reality, however, if Scott Coker were to agree to this, he'd be risking a lot.
Coker is well-known for his willingness to co-promote, but he needs to draw the line here. Co-promoting with companies that aren't based in the United States (DREAM and M-1 Global) is completely different than co-promoting with a domestic company. Say what you want about Strikeforce and how they run their business (and lord knows we have here), but Coker and crew have been extremely savvy in getting favorable fights out of their co-promotion with DREAM. Gilbert Melendez has run through both Mitsuhiro Ishida and Shinya Aoki and Nick Diaz has knocked off both Marius Zaromskis and Hayato Sakurai. Obviously the M-1 Global deal is completely different because they are just providing fighters, not trading them. But the DREAM co-promotion risks almost nothing because of how the matchmaking has been done. Plus, if Aoki would've beaten Melendez, he'd be much more readily available to book than Alvarez would be due to the amount of shows Bellator runs compared to DREAM. Not to mention, Alvarez is a much more dangerous opponent for Melendez than Ishida and Aoki, especially in a cage. As the larger promotion, it makes no sense to set up a co-promotion and have your fighter lose, especially a champion. It immediately devalues your belt.
Now, on top of all that, you have some logistical problems, as well. Who televises these fights? Showtime? FSN? Do you do a pay-per-view (one that no one would buy)?
Bellator should continue to put the heat on Coker in hopes that he melts and agrees to these fights. It's a no-lose proposition for Rebney. His promotion gets a ton of exposure it otherwise wouldn't have received, he gets viewed as a great man for getting a deal done to put the fights together and, if his fighters win, it adds to Bellator's stock.
That's all great for Bellator, but if I'm Coker, I need multi-fight commitments from those fighters to fight in Strikeforce. Coker has the bargaining power here. If he wants to play ball, he can propose something and say "take it or leave it." His business will be the same either way. It'd also give him the added PR edge of saying, "Hey, I tried." Even so, if I'm Coker, I just say no to Bellator.