When news of Matt Mitrione pulling out of his scheduled Bellator 172 main event fight against Fedor Emelianenko broke, Scott Coker’s Saturday evening got a lot busier than he already expected it to be.
The Bellator MMA President spoke at the post-fight press conference after their event at the SAP Center in San Jose, California about the last-minute shuffling behind-the-scenes that ultimately led to the Josh Thomson vs. Patricky “Pitbull” Freire co-main event being bumped to the headline spot.
Coker confirmed that multiple fighters had offered to step up to fight the Russian MMA legend on extremely short-notice. As noted, among them was recently retired fellow MMA legend Tito Ortiz. Another was the man he just beat — Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen seemed to be a legitimate possibility, having just qualified for a license with the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), which oversaw Saturday night’s event in San Jose. Coker, however, revealed that the promotion had other plans in mind for “The American Gangster.”
“We have other plans for Chael and it would have interfered in that,” said the Bellator MMA President after Saturday’s show. “It just got complicated … and then the timeframe.”
Coker continued, “I feel like we ran out of time. We set a deadline internally. We had an obligation to the consumer to let them know this fight was going to be off.”
For his part, Fedor didn’t seem too thrilled with the prospect of fighting someone else with just a couple of hours notice anyways.
“It’s not really right to change the opponent just a few hours before the fight at such a short notice,” said Fedor at the same post-presser on Saturday night. “That’s why my decision and the decision of Bellator was to postpone the fight.”
So, when will “The Last Emporer” make his promotional debut? Coker explained that it wouldn’t be long until we see him “against an opponent,” which may or may not mean a fighter other than Mitrione next time around.
“He’s looking forward to getting back in the cage,” Coker said of Fedor. “We’re looking forward to having him fight … so I think in the next couple of months Fedor will be in the cage for Bellator against an opponent.”
Check out the complete Bellator 172 Post-Fight Press Conference.