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By Rich Hansen, MMATorch Columnist:
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney sat down with MMATorch's Rich Hansen for five minutes at the press conference following Bellator 64 on Friday night from Windsor, Ontario. The interview was conducted mere minutes before Eric Prindle announced that he was likely to pull out of his Bellator 65 heavyweight title fight with champion Cole Konrad.
MMATorch: If Cole Konrad misses weight on Friday night, does Eric Prindle become the Bellator heavyweight champion?
Bjorn Rebney: Uh... That... That's a great question. I hadn't given a lot of thought to that.
MMATorch: Because the precedent was kind of set with him winning the tournament (when Thiago Santos missed weight).
Bjorn Rebney: Yeah. I think as a promoter you would be extremely hard pressed to award somebody a world title coming off of a victory bestowed because of somebody missing weight. And to hand somebody a world title because of it, I don't think you could do it. In good faith I don't think I could do it. So the answer would be no.
MMATorch: Considering your devotion to the tournament structure, was that one of the hardest things you ever had to do, to award the tournament championship to Prindle even though he won it on a scale as opposed to in the cage?
Bjorn Rebney: Yeah. I mean of all the things we've had, knock on wood, we haven't had a lot of guys miss weight. Santos missed weight, Genair de Silva missed weight (at Bellator 60), but I don't know literally if we've even had another guy miss weight in a tournament fight. So we've been really lucky. That whole heavyweight division has not been great to us of late. That's a nice way to put it. It's been disappointing. It remains disappointing. I think Santos is a wicked talent. I just think he's young and he doesn't know anything about nutrition, so...
MMATorch: I thought what you did was pretty classy by the way. Some other bald promoters who wear black might have cut him on the spot for that.
Bjorn Rebney: (laughs) Well... You just, I don't know that I would be as pleasant or malleable about it if he were to do it again. I was in the sauna with him for six hours. I was just sitting with him, just trying to talk him up. Because you could see was a mess. He was way too far over. And he got out of the sauna and he dried off and he cut some weight but not a lot and he was so happy about how he was going to eat mashed potatoes. And I was like... I looked at him and said to his translator, "He doesn't know anything about nutrition, does he?" It's like there's no idea of like what you would rightfully eat at this moment as you're trying to lose weight.
MMATorch: If Prindle would not have been sick going into Bellator 61, would the same thing have happened with Santos?
Bjorn Rebney: He was having a lot of trouble.
MMATorch: So he was going to miss weight, most likely, before Bellator 61?
Bjorn Rebney: He was closer the first time than he was the second time. He blew up after the first cut. He was having a lot of trouble on the first cut.
MMATorch: About the bantamweight tournament (which began with two quarterfinal fights at Bellator 65). How can it be finished (by the end of the season) by Bellator 70? Is there a chance we're going to see the finals during the summer series?
Bjorn Rebney: We've got summer series in June, then July as well, so we may wind up bumping it back to the summer.
MMA Torch: Is that definite?
Bjorn Rebney: It would be tough to finish it. This is the fifth tournament. We're still in a 2-hour show. What we didn't want to do was to force all of the 35 tournament fights on to spike.com. We just thought some of the fighters were too good. It lessens it to a certain extent. So, the ideas, if the fights were easy and finished quick and we could get guys back in two weeks then maybe (we could finish by Bellator 70). If not, we can always bump it to June or July.
MMATorch: And will the summer series continue to be Friday nights, with a two hour window?
Bjorn Rebney: Exactly. And Season 7 as well. Then we move to Spike and bump to three hours.
MMATorch: On Friday nights?
Bjorn Rebney: Yes. As far as we're sitting here today, yes. I mean we're getting our arms wrapped around Fridays, you know. I never really plant the flag in the ground and say that I'm going to 'Custer' myself to death on Friday nights or any night, but as far as everything is planned right now, it'll stay Friday.
Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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