Part of that focus was bringing back the women’s division and now he not only has fighters showing interest, but the MMA world in general.
It’s Coker who is credited with putting together the most famous female matchup of all time (Gina Carano vs Cyborg) under the Strikeforce banner. Now, he is focusing on the flyweight and featherweight divisions.
Patience is key, which is what Coker is using as he goes through the process. Building or rebuilding anything takes time.
It’s not surprising that its not all apple pies and blue skies at this stage. The female rosters are fairly thin and there are no champions yet, but there are signs of progress.
Focusing on 125 and 145 is smart, considering the UFC has relatively mature 115 and 135 weight classes. Coker’s gameplan convinced stars like Julia Budd, Marloes Coenen, and up-and-comers like Lena Ovchynnikova to jump onboard.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) January 27, 2016
More recently, Bruna Ellen, Bruna Vargas and Kenya Miranda were signed as new flyweights.
“I feel like we would have been dumb not to sign with them,” Budd told MMAjunkie. “They told us about what they’re planning to do with our weight division and I thought this was perfect for me. It’s going to be a nice change up.” Rising star Ilima-Lei MacFarlane recently told MMA Crossfire, “What really made me want to join Bellator was the opportunity to grow with them. The flyweight division is new and I think it’s great they’re building a flyweight division. They have 145, the UFC has 135 and 115, so this flyweight division made sense. The opportunity to be able to grow with them in my career was the most appealing.”
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) February 11, 2016
It’s early, but Coker appears to be backing up the vision with action.
It’s about getting flyweight and featherweight belts established in 2016 and solidifying the divisions. Budd vs Coenen is in the works for the 145 belt. The only delay is an injury that Coenen suffered, but that fight is set to go when she is cleared. Coenen, a former Strikeforce champion and Budd, who is on a six-fight win streak, is currently in the works for April.
Cage drills. pic.twitter.com/cpBYH36ntY
— MarloesCoenen (@MarloesCoenen) January 27, 2016
More talent is needed for both divisions. Let’s see what happens.
As for this month, stay tuned as I talking with Ovchynnikova about her upcoming fight with Rebecca Ruth. Lena is making her Bellator debut and bringing heat, so lets she how she handles the pressure.