Many today may not remember who the largest Kickboxing Promoter
in North America was back in the 90's. Heck, some of you were not even born, let
alone watching or even participating in the fight sports. However, all of us
here at the IKF do. It was
who created the Kickboxing Promotion "STRIKEFORCE" which later
became "Strikeforce MMA". Coker's love for Kickboxing
never left him.
Well Kickboxing fans, you can stand up and cheer again because
Scott Coker is BACK, this time under the new banner,
Coker made it clear in his press conference (See
YouTube link below) that they will not be promoting Muay Thai bouts. Their
focus will be on "K-1 Rules" Kickboxing, So no elbows or
Many know Bellator
as the biggest competition of the UFC. However, many others see what
Bellator has done has made them a much larger Fan Favorite brand than the UFC.
Add in Kickboxing and just like that, Bellator
just added an entire new fan base. Bellator
Kickboxing is scheduled for an April 16th launch on Spike
like Bellator MMA. According to
sources, the Bellator staff will
operate Bellator Kickboxing out of
its current Santa Monica, California offices.
According to sources, Coker said he jumped at the
opportunity to start his own promotion once the relationship between Spike
TV and GLORY disbanded in 2015.
"We know how to do this as good or better than
anybody," Coker said. "Because this kickboxing
business is something I've been doing for a long time. It's something that I
felt like, we could do it properly. Let's get our fighters that want to fight in
kickboxing, who are fighting MMA right now, and let them fight on both sides of
"If you look at our roster we have a lot of fighters
that can cross over and do both," Coker said. "When you look
at the TV side they liked having kickboxing as part of their programming. We can
do a great job, have the fan base that Bellator has already and really market to
them and speak to them."
The April 16 event will be co-promoted with Oktagon
Kickboxing's Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy. Spike
will air a live Bellator MMA event
as a lead-in. The Bellator Kickboxing
event will feature Melvin Manhoef VS Alexandru Negrea headlines
the kickboxing event along with Mustapha Haida VS Karim Ghajii.
Coker's plan with Bellator
Kickboxing is to feature Stand-Up fighting stars such as Joe
Schilling, Raymond Daniels, Kevin Ross, Keri Taylor-Melendez and Anastasia
Yankova. Some events will feature a mix of MMA and kickboxing bouts.
According to Coker, Fighters will be free to compete in one or both
promotions. You can watch the entire press conference announcement by clicking
the link below.
Having been a part of so many former Kickboxing Champions
careers, this decision was no surprise to us here. With Champions such as, but
certainly not limited to, Pro Fighter like Javier "Thunder"
Mendez, who on his birthday in 1992 celebrated by winning his first Light
Cruiserweight World Title. After a brief retirement 2 years later, he came back
again and in 1995 he won his second World title in the Light Heavyweight
division, eventually retiring to focus on his Martial Arts Gym.
Javier's Gym, American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose California
is one of the most successful fight gyms in the country producing loads of great
fighters, many who went on to fight on Coker's Strikeforce MMA events.
Through the years Javiar remained close with Scott
and said just recently as Strikeforce
faded into the history books, Scott never changed as he was, and still
is all about the fights and the fighters.
"He's driven to make great shows," Mendez
said. "He's never been driven by popularity, or fame or attention. He
was driven by creating great things, by putting on shows fans wanted to see, by
doing things that people thought couldn't be done. He's had great, great success
over the years, but he's still the same guy. If he gives you his word, you can
rely on it. His word is golden. He's one of those rare people you meet, who when
he tells you he is going to do something, he does it.
Javier was one of Scott's big name Main Events
along with others such as Francis
"Footloose" Farley who in 1989 won the North
American Middleweight title. In 1993 he won the Middleweight World title and in
1995 he won the Light Middleweight World title.
Other Kickboxing stars of Coker's promotion included
Claude Leuyer who won the Intercontinental Super Heavyweight
title on March 13, 1994 and eventually the Super Heavyweight World title in 2
different rule styles.
Two time World Champion
Curtis "Battlecat" Schuster
and San Shou World Champion and eventual Strikeforce
and UFC Champion
Cung Le were
also parts of Coker's Super Stars.
And of course, the late former World Champion
Gong, and other Fairtex
fighters such as Jongsanan Fairtex, Bunkerd Faphimai, George Tsutsui &
Enn Fairtex (Janthakhunkick)
Simply said, Scott created a lot of Champion and Star
Kickboxers. His events were what many referred to as
"The Last of the Known Kickboxers".
This was because after ESPN didn't renew their contract
he stopped Promoting Kickboxing and Muay Thai. Because of this, there was no
more Kickboxing on TV. TV, as it did with the UFC
and MMA, made the sport, and with it, the Stars. With no more Kickboxing TV
deal, there were no more Kickboxing Stars, leaving it up to web sites such as
the IKF's to be one of the only places future Kickboxing and Muay Thai Stars
would be known.
Bellator Kickboxing Announcement