Bellator MMA President Scott Coker has provided his take on why crowds at European events provide an extra level of energy and passion than is seen in North American.
Coker’s promotion recently held a card in Dublin, Ireland, which has become renowned for its atmosphere at MMA events. And Bellator 285, held at the 3Arena on September 25, only enhanced that reputation.
The crowd was electric throughout the card, which saw the likes of Yoel Romero, Leah McCourt, and Pedro Carvalho score big wins prior to the night’s headliner. In the main event, Ireland’s own Peter Queally shared the cage with former UFC champion Benson Henderson.
If those who missed the event need context on the support given to local fighters, videos of the Irish fans serenading “The Showstopper” as he walked out to The Cranberries’ “Zombie” should do the job nicely.
The Bellator 285 event serves as the latest example of a large promotion crossing the Atlantic for a big affair in Europe. This year alone, the UFC and Bellator have staged cards in Paris and London, with the fans playing their part in making the nights memorable.
And Coker believes there’s good reason for the passion across the pond.
Coker: “It’s A Matter Of Frequency”
During an appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani following his promotion’s latest overseas event, Coker praised the Dublin crowd, suggesting that it’s on “a whole another level.”
“When the fans are passionate about who’s fighting, it gets loud and it gets crazy,” Coker said. “Dublin is a whole another level. If you’ve never seen a fight in Dublin — I’ve never heard fans (like it). The way they sing, it’s just an amazing spiritual experience. Everyone in mixed martial arts has to go there. Come to a Bellator fight and experience it, because it is fantastic.”
When asked why events in North America rarely replicate the same atmosphere, Coker suggested that the frequency of cards in the United States affects the fan energy.
With trips to the UK, France, Ireland, and other European nations being few and far between, especially in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s little chance of fans getting burned out.
“Well, like I said, Ireland is something special; Europe, France. It’s because it’s so new,” Coker said. “How many fights are in America? It’s like, every weekend there’s a dozen fights somewhere in the country. I just think it’s a matter of frequency and that Europe is just starting.
“France, think about this, we did the first fight two years ago and there’s been probably four of five fights in the whole history of the country, right? So, they’re hungry, they’re passionate, and it’s like a new sport for them,” Coker added.
After another successful night in Ireland’s capital, which followed a memorable Bellator 275 event at the same arena this past February, the promotion has already announced it’s return.
Following the September 25 card, it was confirmed that Bellator will stage another event in Dublin next February.
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