It’s the holiday season, and with the new year quickly approaching, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of MMA in 2015. Throughout the remainder of the year, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
When Scott Coker took the reins of Bellator MMA in June 2014, there were plenty of reasons to be excited. The promotion had the talent and backing of its promotional partners to stand out amongst a sea full of MMA organizations, but it lacked the guidance at the executive level to take it there. Coker had found previous success heading Strikeforce before what seemed to be such an abrupt end for the promotion when it was sold to the UFC. After Strikeforce was absorbed by the UFC, it was clear the sport needed something different. It needed Scott Coker back in a rival organization.
January began Coker’s first calendar year as president of Bellator. Already dismissed was the tournament format the promotion had instituted under its former regime, and throughout the year viewers got to see more of Coker’s direction in action. Showcase talent. Showcase entertainment. Above all, take chances.
Scattered throughout 2015 were events held for the casual and hardcore viewer alike, from the less-heralded events such as Bellator 135: Warren vs. Galvao 2, where we got to see the crowning of a new bantamweight champ and one of the most entertaining fights of the year between Hideo Tokoro and L.C. Davis, to Bellator 138: Unfinished Business, where we were treated to Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock. We were entertained by the spectacles, and isn’t that what we want as fans? There are so many promotions out there as is, so let’s have something different that stands out. Want cross-promotion? You got it, here’s Dynamite. Want over-the-top entrances? Well, here Bellator added this as well.
Bellator gave us something different and exciting, and the recognition goes to Coker. He is already a pioneer in the industry, but this year showed us that he still has more trailblazing left to do. Plus, it’s nice to see such professionalism in a sport where it’s clearly lacking from many organizations. This professionalism is a major reason many high-level athletes, including Josh Thomson and Phil Davis, signed with the organization in 2015. You’re not going to see Coker logging on to Twitter to call fans “goofballs,” and that’s a breath of much-needed fresh air from a top combat-sports promotion.
Other finalists: Shannon Knapp, Dana White
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2015 MMA Award winners.