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Morning Report: Scott Coker admits he was hoping Patricio Pitbull would pick Darrion Caldwell for next fight

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Over the weekend at Bellator 228, the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix wrapped up their first round of competition with A.J. McKee, Darrion Caldwell, Daniel Weichel, and featherweight champion Patricio Freire all punching their tickets through to quarterfinals. It was a highly successful event, and following Patricio Pitbull’s successful title defense against Juan Archuleta, all eight of the quarterfinalists were brought out to do a “Selection Show” for the quarterfinal draw.

The way the process worked was the fighters chose numbers at random and then chose on which dates they’d like to fight, picking in order of their lots. Then, after the seven other competitors chose their dates and opponents, the champion was given the opportunity to choose who he wanted to fight and could thus bump any of the other fighters from their choice. In the end, the fights were determined and the brackets were set with McKee taking on Derek Campos in December, Adam Borics facing Caldwell in January, Emmanuel Sanchez squaring off with Weichel in February and Pitbull defending his title against Pedro Carvalho in March. That last bit is the important part because Pitbull’s decision to defend against Carvalho was puzzling to some, even his boss, Bellator CEO Scott Coker.

“For me personally, I think that there’s some fighters that I thought were interesting, but I was hoping for a different fight at the very end,” Coker said in the post-event press conference. “But I think he picked who he wanted to fight and he’s the champ and he gets to do what he wants to do. But I tell ya, there’s some fights that I really look forward to in that tournament, so I think we’re going to have a great, great tournament on our hands.”

It’s easy to see why Coker would have preferred Pitbull to make another choice. Carvalho is one of the lesser known names in the tournament but had chosen to face former bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell in March. Pitbull, citing a desire to have more time off to recuperate, made it clear he wanted to fight at the latest possible date but then opted to face the SBG Ireland product instead of the former champion who had been trash talking him during his fight with Archuleta. For Coker the promoter, that would have been a much better storyline to sell going forward but he does admit that the opportunity may still come down the line.

“My only thought was I thought when ‘Pitbull’ had the shot, I thought he was going to fight DC [Caldwell],” Coker said. “ I thought he wanted him really bad. But you know, it went the other way, so now we have some interesting fights on both sides and if you keep winning, you’ll fight each other anyway at the end, so it’s going to be fine.”

That could be awhile away though. Freire and Caldwell are now in opposite sides of the bracket and would both need to win their next two fights to face off with one another. But despite the brackets not working out exactly how he would have preferred, overall Coker was happy with the selection process and did say it would likely be used going forward as well.

“I liked it,” Coker said. “I thought it was great. It’s something that I’ll go back and look at the footage and talk to the guys but honestly I think it was a fun way to present the tournament and pick the tournament. It was a random draw but there was a little twist at the end so I liked it and we’ll see what happens.”


Results. Jared Cannonier, Mark O. Madsen score TKO wins at UFC Copehagen.

Results. Gegard Mousasi avenges Lyoto Machida loss, Patricio Pitbull retains title at Bellator 228.

Results. James Gallagher, Michael Page score first-round finishes at Bellator Dublin.

Grand Prix. Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix quarterfinal fights determined, dates revealed.

Accusations. Gegard Mousasi condemns Rafael Lovato Jr. as a cheater, promises ‘if I lose [the rematch], I’ll retire’.

Title fight. Kamaru Usman to defend welterweight title against Colby Covington at UFC 245.

Except that one time. Tyron Woodley on Kamaru Usman: ‘I’m a nightmare for him every day of the week’.


Bellator highlights.

UFC 243 Countdown.

Free fights, including the Fight of the Year.

The Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix Selection Show.

Rashad big upping Mike Tyson.


6th Round. Immediate post-fight reaction to UFC Copehagen.

Severe MMA. Discussing UFC Copenhagen, Bellator, and UFC 244.


Surely this can only mean one thing . . .

Hermansson statement.

Mike Perry is done. Seems like a fun scrap.

Chandler with the praise.

Izzy and the squad.

Gilbert Burns looking for the quick turnaround.

Good guy Jorge Masvidal.

Holly Holm on pulling out of her fight.

Matt Riddle responding to Dana.

Bo Nickal is gonna be a legit prospect just as soon as he realizes he’s kinda screwed for the US wrestling team.


Kamaru Usman (15-1) vs. Colby Covington (15-1); UFC 245, Dec. 14.


I don’t know about y’all but I loved the Bellator selection show. Thought it was good fun and now I’m excited for the quarterfinals.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


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