Today in Houston, Texas as part of the festivities leading into tomorrow night’s Bellator MMA card, Bellator president Scott Coker announced that they will be launching a sub-brand, Bellator Kickboxing. Coker, of course, was a kickboxing promoter for decades before he ever got into MMA promotion. That’s why you sometimes hear about Strikeforce existing back into the mid-’80s; it was originally Coker’s kickboxing promotion with Cung Le and AKA head trainer Javier Mendez as the top stars. If you watched kickboxing on ESPN2 in the ’90s through the early ’00s, Coker provided much of that programming, with Lou Neglia’s northeast promotion making up most of the rest.
Coker and company unveiled a logo for the kickboxing promotion as part of the presentation:
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) February 18, 2016
The first card will take place on April 16th in Turin, Italy as part of a co-promotion with the Oktagon promotion that runs in the region. According to MMA Junkie’s report on the announcement, among the names being pushed as Bellator Kickboxing stars were Joe Schilling, Raymond Daniels, Kevin Ross (one of Lion Fight’s signature stars), Keri Taylor-Melendez (Gilbert Melendez’s wife), and recent Bellator signee Anastasia Yankova.
Something like this had been rumored for a while, and became fairly obvious when Glory Kickboxing finished up with Spike TV after the “Glory” portion of the combined Bellator/Glory “Dynamite” card last year barely included Glory talent. On top of that, the Italy date and Oktagon’s involvement had both been public for a while, and it never really made sense why Bellator was co-promoting wth a local kickboxing group for a major MMA card.