In a somewhat surprising move – but not really if you’ve kept in touch with the trusty rumor mill – Spike TV announced Wednesday that Bellator MMA has parted ways with their top two executives.
Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney (pictured), as well as president and COO Tim Danaher have left the company, effective immediately.
“It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I am leaving the company I founded,” Rebney stated in the press release. “I have great pride in having turned my vision into reality, a thriving business with television distribution to over 140 countries around the world, a partnership with one of the world’s largest entertainment giants and wide array of sponsors, partners and strategic allies all over the globe.
“This has been a wonderful eight plus years of creation, development and success. I will miss the courageous, strong and dedicated fighters I have had the pleasure of promoting, and equally, I will miss the incredibly hard working, remarkable team that has become a family for me over the years. Viacom and Tim and I differed in our views of the right strategic direction for Bellator, but Tim and I both wish them well.”
Rebney launched then-Bellator Fighting Championships in April of 2009. The company was rebranded as Bellator MMA after Viacom bough controlling interest in the fight promotion in late 2011.
Under Rebney and Danaher’s watch, Bellator’s broadcast events transitioned from ESPN Deportes to MTV2 and currently Spike TV.
To date, Bellator has hosted 121 shows including last month’s pay-per-view debut. That’s far more than any MMA organization outside of the UFC, who enjoys a stranglehold on the sport.
“I feel very privileged and honored to have been one of the guiding forces for developing Bellator into the largest MMA tournament based organization in the world,” Danaher expressed. “I’ve made tremendous life-long friends and feel blessed to have worked with such talented and dedicated people.”
According to 5thRound.com sources, former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker is expected to take over the reins at Bellator. Although Coker’s name didn’t appear in today’s release, that announcement should come shortly.