Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza on Bellator’s future, Scott Coker vs. Dana White, freak program battles and more

Couple of people wield as much power in battle sports as Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza, specifically now that Bellator Mixed Martial Arts is now under his umbrella as well.

With a robust lineup of boxing skill as part of Showtime Champion Boxing and Bellator MMA, Espinoza is ultimately seeking to grow both brands after formerly dealing with Bellator President Scott Coker when he was the main owner behind Strikeforce.

Just recently, Bellator MMA revealed a move from the Paramount Network to CBS Sports Network as the ViacomCBS-owned promotion changed broadcast houses, getting to a broader variety of channels.

In addition to that, Bellator Mixed Martial Arts now has the ability to potentially air programs on additional networks in the ViacomCBS household, including CBS and Showtime.

Espinoza sat down with MMA Battling ahead of the Showtime Boxing pay-per-view this weekend where the Charlo twins– Jermell and Jermall– will take spotlight in a set of battles from the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

Showtime Boxing Teaming Up with Bellator MMA

As a response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Bellator MMA in fact partnered with Showtime Boxing for a residency at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Conn., where both promotions have actually been placing on shows for the previous couple of months.

The shared home for boxing and MMA has assisted Showtime and Bellator test fighters for COVID-19 while developing a bubble of sorts to ensure athlete health and wellness throughout the pandemic.

Up until now the entire run has been a success, permitting Espinoza to work closely with Coker for several occasions with more prepared in September and October.

” I do not want this to come across the wrong method since I would not describe the environment as great for anybody, but it was a nice method to get back in organization with Scott Coker,” Espinoza stated about the existing shared residency. “Our group had been in business with Scott back in Strikeforce, which was a really successful run.

” Scott has much of the same team members, and to be able to come together and work together and get our feet damp again, not always in the same events, but in the same environment and coordinate procedures and handing off to one another, it’s a great re-introduction. It enabled us to reacquaint ourselves with our particular services. I believe it’s a fantastic initial step to all the numerous methods we’re planning on interacting in the future.”

Working with Scott Coker Again

As part of the corporate restructuring after Viacom and CBS merged last year, Bellator MMA was brought under Espinoza’s leadership.

Espinoza says he welcomed the possibility to work again with Coker, especially after a successful run together during his time as the head of Showtime Sports when the network was home to Strikeforce.

While he’s typically understood for his operate in boxing, Espinoza relished the opportunity to operate in MMA once again with hopes that he prove that there does not necessarily need to be a rivalry in between the 2 sports just so one can be successful.

” I believe our whole team was delighted due to the fact that we have always been really proud with what we achieved with Strikeforce,” Espinoza said.

” I believe there’s always been this rivalry in between boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. I think it’s mainly because how UFC selected to launch when they first sort of began marketing themselves aggressively, however the sports have far more in typical than they do not in common. In reality, we need to be collaborating on the event side, the marketing side, even the cross promo side. This is the very first chance we have for the sports to work together cohesively and I believe that’s interesting for both group and fight sports in basic.”

Bellator Mixed Martial Arts on CBS or Showtime?

With the current statement of Bellator’s move to CBS Sports Network beginning on Oct. 1, the natural concern was the potential for programs airing on either CBS and even Showtime?

CBS formerly has actually aired popular Mixed Martial Arts cards on the network, most especially Strikeforce and Elite XC cards featuring names such as Gina Carano, Kimbo Slice, Jake Shields and Dan Henderson

While nothing has actually been identified just yet, Espinoza thinks it’s just a matter of time before Bellator could possibly promote a card on a number of different ViacomCBS networks, not to point out the marketing possibilities.

” I think the expansion of Bellator programs throughout all ViacomCBS is very most likely in the long run,” Espinoza said.

We’ve gotten some truly high profile excellent support from CBS from the NFL video games this previous weekend, most notably throughout the Houston Texans video game on CBS, which is fantastic with the Charlo’s as their home market.

Showtime Boxing and Bellator Co-Promoted Shows

With Showtime Boxing and Bellator MMA already sharing a residency at the Mohegan Sun, it looks like a natural fit that the 2 promos could eventually put on a card together.

Espinoza agrees that placing on a card that features both boxing and Mixed Martial Arts is absolutely a possibility with a large range of other ideas that might see the 2 brand names collaborate in the future.

” I believe it is very possible in the long run that we do totally promoted events, back-to-back events, even combined occasions as soon as it’s reasonably possible,” Espinoza discussed.

As soon as we have the chance, I think you’ll see some of that either after the DAZN deal or in combination with the DAZN offer or anywhere we can fit it into the service design.

Scott Coker vs. Dana White

Naturally, Espinoza has a long history working with Coker, but he likewise experienced a brief marketing relationship with UFC President Dana White when the mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor came together in 2017.

As the head of Showtime Sports, Espinoza represented Mayweather, while White was side-by-side with McGregor.

That said, Espinoza doesn’t spent much time thinking about White or his particular company practices.

” I haven’t spent a lot of time studying the UFC’s approach and their approach, however I know Scott and I know our approach, and I understand how Scott approaches things as evidenced by his 20- plus years in battle sports,” Espinoza stated. “What our groups share in Bellator and Showtime is truly the fighter-first mindset. Our company believe in respecting the fighter, raising the fighter and doing whatever to put the fighter out front in the most favorable light possible.

” Personally, from throughout this organization, Scott truly feels the exact same way. There is an incredible quantity of respect for anyone who gets in the ring or in the cage and puts their efforts on the line in that kind of personal method, and we wish to honor that and elevate that. That’s the viewpoint and that’s a choice. If there’s something if you discuss Scott throughout his career, that’s something individuals will indicate is the truth that it’s not about Scott. It’s not even about the organization as much as it has to do with elevating the fighters and honoring the nobility and the courage that it takes to commit yourself to this lifestyle in combat sports.”

For many years, White has actually come under fire for the way he’s attacked some of his professional athletes in the media. Just recently, the UFC president took objective at former interim lightweight champ Dustin Poirier when he couldn’t pertain to terms with the promo for a planned battle versus Tony Ferguson

I don’t know if it was he didn’t want to combat in Abu Dhabi or what his deal was, he didn’t want to combat. There’s a lot of various ways to turn down a fight.
For whatever reason, he didn’t want to take this fight.

Clearly, Espinoza could not attend to Poirier or that specific scenario however he comprehends the distinctions with how he manages business with his fighters similar method Coker does at Bellator.

” Truthfully, you can be really effective in this service without having to resort to negativeness,” Espinoza said.

” That appears in Scott’s approach, Bellator’s approach, across the organization which’s what draws people to Scott and to Bellator is that approach which approach.”

Freak Program Combats in Boxing

While Espinoza is proud to promote the upcoming Charlo twins pay-per-view through Showtime Boxing, it’s impossible to disregard some of the other fights being talked about in the sport right now.

Social network superstars Logan and Jake Paul are unexpectedly being discussed as possible opponents for championship level boxers. According to boxing expert Dan Rafael, DAZN when considered UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jorge Masvidal as “premium” opponents for possible battles versus Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

If any of those matches ever happened, it would not be the very first or last time boxing or MMA promoted a celebrity in a high-level fight. Mayweather and McGregor placed on among the greatest pay televisions of perpetuity in a bout where the unbeaten former boxing champ was a massive favorite– and ultimately won the fight by TKO.

Espinoza can’t say he’s planning to promote any of those type of fights in the near future, however he’s not as quick to dismiss them as nothing more than a cash grab. He simply wishes to make certain promoters involved with those battles are separating Logan Paul facing Floyd Mayweather in an exhibit as a far cry from the featured bout this weekend with Jermall Charlo versus Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

” I’ll tell you, I shake my head at sort of when they’re dealt with as the same thing,” Espinoza discussed.

” It may not be my cup of tea, however I do not begrudge it. Where I think it does an injustice to the sport is where you’re putting the 2 on the same platform and you’re anticipating 2 various audiences to cross-pollinate. In my experience what that leads to is actually sort of missed opportunities and dissatisfied expectations in between the 2 different audiences instead of cross-pollination. They are two various things and they should not be presented as the very same.”

He might not be prepared to ink the Paul bros to a special contract, however Espinoza can’t reject the entertainment value in seeing them combat. That said, he also comprehends it’s not the like viewing 2 of the very best fighters clashing in the ring or a high profile MMA battle like those occurring in Bellator.

” The Paul’s definitely have a big fan base,” Espinoza stated. “To be truthful, the very first Paul-KSI battle, I was really impressed by the level of boxing. This was not a star boxing match. These were people who had actually plainly hung around in the health club and had some skills.

” It’s not at the level of a Showtime Championship Boxing however they were not bad.

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Post Author: Izabella Jaworska

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