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Scott Coker, Showtime continue WMMA legacy with Bellator

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Scott Coker, Showtime continue WMMA legacy with Bellator.

MMA fans tend to credit Women’s MMA milestones to the UFC but long before Dana White was claiming women would never fight for his promotion, Scott Coker and Showtime were not only supporting women in combat sports – they were highlighting them on Strikeforce cards. Their stamp on the history of WMMA is often overlooked but substantial nonetheless and it’s about time the spotlight was shined back where it belongs.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of WMMA, but most importantly, a fan,” Coker told FanSided. “Whatever networks I’ve worked with over the years, I have always strived to grow WMMA. My first go-round with Showtime we were able to accomplish many great things together like promoting the first WMMA main event. With Showtime, we have a partner that share those same desires to elevate the great females competing in our sport. Now that we’re back on the network, I look forward to picking up right where we left off and continuing to do great things for WMMA.”

Coker and Showtime are responsible for highlighting women’s MMA before in was even on the radar. Showtime aired the very first televised women’s MMA fight when Gina Carano defeated Julie Kedzie on Feb. 10, 2007. Then on Aug. 15, 2009, Coker was responsible for giving women the main event billing for the first time in the history of the sport when Carano was defeated by Cris “Cyborg” Justino. That moment marked a turning point in women’s MMA and for Justino.

It makes sense that Bellator, the new home for Justino, would find its way back to Showtime.

Now the pair sets its eyes on history-making moments yet again. And it’s already giving the women the edge. Bellator’s first bout on Showtime was a women’s scrap between Alejandra Lara and Kana Watanabe. Once again, Bellator is showcasing female talent.

“It’s really cool to come full circle,” Liz Carmouche told FanSided. “Showtime, even having nothing to do fighting, has always been one of my favorite networks that I like the TV shows on. And then you take the symbology that it has for me as far as my start with StrikeForce in my entry into it, it’s really great to come full circle with the same company again.”

Women like Valerie Loureda and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, who are homegrown Bellator-built stars, are not the only names the promotion is highlighting. Other women who have already made an indelible mark in the history books like Liz Carmouche, Cat Zingano, and, of course, Justino herself are creating headlines on a familiar platform.

Bellator and Showtime hope to continue to make history for WMMA

These women, many of who FanSided spoke with directly are well aware of the history the partnership holds. They are also aware that Bellator and Showtime will be putting forth the effort to continue making history in WMMA.

“I’d really love to see us headlining more pay-per-view,” Carmouche said. “I think that that will be a significant change for women. It doesn’t seem like that occurs very often, more often it’s men. And then see more weight classes open up. Right now it’s kind of limited, not just in the UFC, but also in Bellator and all the other organizations I see. There’s just not a vast majority of the weight classes. I think we’re missing out on some of the women. I think we’ll see more history-making moments when we open up those other weight classes.”

Her counterpart and fellow history-maker, Cat Zingano, agrees and would also like to see female coaches highlighted.

“Just highlighting some of the women coaches as well,” Zingano said. “Where things have come from as far as that aspect of it. I find some MMA stories in general why people fight is such a big deal. And there’s always like a huge deeper meaning and it kind of always comes from somewhere heavy. Because this is people a lot of times a coping mechanism or their distraction or their way that they have an outlet towards something, or they just always thought and always wanted it and this was what was big to them. And I think those stories for men and women are interesting, and I’d love to see more of the women where everybody came from and why.”

Coker is on board with history-making ideas, specifically where the women are involved.

“Any time you have an opportunity to make history like that you’ve got to take it,” he said. “I thought it was great to see AJ and Antonio McKee both get wins at the same event, and to see a mother and her daughter accomplish that goal would be a great milestone for WMMA. I know that at Bellator 257 Julia Budd and her stepson Lance Gibson Jr. are competing on the same card, which will definitely be a special moment for that family.”

Coker and the women of Bellator are itching for their own Grand Prix

One of the things that fans have been calling for is a Grand Prix featuring the women of Bellator, that’s something Coker says he’s interested in.

“Our goal is to have a single weight class participate in a Grand Prix in a calendar year,” Coler said. “Obviously, the pandemic has caused the delay in wrapping up the featherweights and we’re kicking of the light heavyweights this week.  But we were strongly considering doing the tournament with the women’s flyweight division. When we look to the future, honestly, either of our women’s divisions would make for a very compelling tournament. We’ll definitely be assessing throughout the year.”

And it’s clear the women of Bellator are ready as well.

One thing that both Carmouche and Zingano are adamant about is the way they are treated as equals under the Bellator and Showtime umbrella.

“There was never that that hesitancy, or questioning of whether or not I actually belonged here,” Carmouche said. “[Coker] has been very open about that since the beginning, and I felt accepted since the beginning, and they seem to want to do everything they can do to empower women. They seem to do a lot of things to let them have a free voice and how they display who they are with each of the fights, that’s something really appreciate.”

Zingano agrees.

“I feel like a lot more respected and I feel a lot more supported,” Zingano said. “And I mean they want to know what is best for you from you, and that freedom and knowing that you have a say in how you’re feeling, and what is right or wrong with you, and what dates work for you, and actually being compensated in a way that it’s not frightening, or you’re not just paying off your injuries from the fight, that feels really supportive. The evolution is great, and to move up into weight classes and to be bigger, and to go to a promotion that is actually really nurturing and really building this heavier weight class, I think it’s really important too, and really special, too.”

Bellator and Showtime will continue to showcase female fighters and Cyborg vs. Leslie Smith will headline a card in May at Bellator 259. This, along with many other milestones for women are still to come with Bellator and Showtime.

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BELLATOR MMA Confirms Full Fight Card for BELLATOR 259 on SHOWTIME Next Friday, May 21 at 9 pm ET – My MMA News.com

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BELLATOR MMA has confirmed the full fight card for BELLATOR MMA 259: Cyborg vs. Smith 2 this Friday, May 21 at Mohegan Sun Arena. The event caps off an exciting month of action for BELLATOR, and airs LIVE on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

With plans to continue her dominance over the women’s featherweight division, Cris Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) will put her world championship on the line against No. 4 ranked featherweight Leslie Smith (12-8-1) in a rematch to crown the world’s top 145-pound female athlete.

The BELLATOR MMA 259 main card on SHOWTIME is loaded from top to bottom, including former bantamweight champion Darion Caldwell (15-4) rematching No. 6 ranked bantamweight Leandro Higo (20-5) in a 135-pound contest, a top-five middleweight clash between the undefeated No. 3 ranked Austin Vanderford (10-0) and No. 4 ranked Fabian Edwards (9-1), and a welterweight matchup that will see the streaking Jaleel Willis (14-2) face off against former LFA champion Maycon Mendonca (11-4), who’ll be making his promotional debut. Capping off the main card action will be the undefeated Jackson Wink-product and No. 9 ranked light heavyweight Christian Edwards (4-0) challenging Mississippi’s Ben Parrish (4-1).

As part of the launch of BELLATOR MMA on SHOWTIME, the network is offering viewers who are new to the SHOWTIME streaming service a 30-day free trial, followed by a discounted monthly subscription fee of $4.99/month for the next six months. Viewers can sign up at SHO.com/BellatorMMA. Subscribers will be delivered two premier BELLATOR MMA events per month throughout 2021 and beyond, with all events scheduled to air live at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT anywhere the SHOWTIME service is available.

The nine-fight preliminary card has no shortage of action-packed bouts, featuring a top-10 light heavyweight matchup between No. 7 ranked Grant Neal (5-0) and No. 8 ranked Tyree Fortune (5-0) and the return of Israeli lightweight superstar Aviv Gozali (5-0), as he looks to add to his five first round finishes and record breaking 11-second submission win. Plus, the charismatic No. 8 ranked women’s flyweight Valerie Loureda (3-0), the always-exciting Saad Awad (23-13, 1 NC), and No. 6 ranked Australian featherweight Janay Harding (6-4), who takes on No. 7 ranked Irish sensation Leah McCourt (4-1). Finally, No. 9 ranked lightweight Alfie Davis (14-3) makes his sixth promotional appearance against BELLATOR newcomer Alexander Shabliy (19-3).

All prelims will stream live at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT on the BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel, SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and Pluto TV. Full bout listings are below:

BELLATOR MMA 259: Cyborg vs. Smith 2 Main Card:

SHOWTIME

9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT

 

Featherweight World Title Main Event: c-Cris Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) vs. #4-Leslie Smith (12-8-1)

Bantamweight Co-Main Event: Darrion Caldwell (15-4) vs. #6-Leandro Higo (20-5)

Middleweight Bout: #3-Austin Vanderford (10-0) vs. #4-Fabian Edwards (9-1)

Welterweight Bout: Jaleel Willis (14-2) vs. Maycon Mendonca (11-4)

Light Heavyweight Bout: #9-Christian Edwards (4-0) vs. Ben Parrish (4-1)

 Preliminary Card: 

BELLATOR MMA YouTube Channel | SHOWTIME Sports YouTube Channel | Pluto TV

5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT

Lightweight Bout: Saad Awad (23-13, 1 NC) vs. Nate Andrews (16-3)

Light Heavyweight Bout: #7-Grant Neal (5-0) vs. #8-Tyree Fortune (5-0)

Flyweight Bout: Sumiko Inaba (1-0) vs. Kristina Katsikis (1-1)

Lightweight Bout: Aviv Gozali (5-0) vs. Sean Felton (5-2-1)

Flyweight Bout: #8-Valerie Loureda (3-0) vs. Hannah Guy (2-1)

Heavyweight Bout: Davion Franklin (2-0) vs. Tyler King (12-9)

Featherweight Bout: #6-Janay Harding (6-4) vs. #7-Leah McCourt (4-1)

Lightweight Bout: #9-Alfie Davis (14-3) vs. Alexander Shabliy (19-3)

*Card subject to change.

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Paul Daley vs. Jason Jackson set for Bellator 260 co-main event – MMA Fighting

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Paul Daley isn’t done with the sport of mixed martial arts just yet.

Promotional officials announced on Wednesday that Daley will face Jason Jackson in the co-main event of Bellator 260 at a catchweight at 175 pounds. The fight card takes place June 11 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. and will air on Showtime.

“Semtex” will make the walk less than two months after his thrilling Fight of the Year contender against Sabah Homasi at Bellator 257, where Daley earned a second-round finish. After dropping three of four to Michael Page, Jon Fitch and Rory MacDonald, the 62-fight veteran has won three straight, which includes a decision win over Erick Silva and a second-round TKO of Saad Awad.

Jackson has won his last four fights after dropping a controversial split decision to Ed Ruth in the start of his current run with Bellator. “The Ass-Kicking Machine” bounced back with wins over Klichi Kunimoto, Jordan Mein, Benson Henderson and Neiman Gracie to land him at No. 3 in the current promotional rankings at 170 pounds.

Bellator 260 will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Douglas Lima and Yaroslav Amosov.

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Is the LW division in Bellator the only

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I didn’t say anyone from this list can beat all 10 ranked guys

If they make 10 fights head to head and choose the matches carefully, I can see the unranked fighters beating them 10-0. For example the two weakest fighters from my list against Moret or Queally (I think they can beat them), then put Khabilov against Piccolotti, there you go another win :D Usman can beat Jury, Mamedov can beat Outlaw etc etc

Shabliy will prove it against the ranked Alfie :D

If they did the opposite and choose the good matchups for the ranked guys against the unranked, I really can’t see it going 10-0 for them. The unranked guys are better, imo.

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