Scott Coker’s comments after Bellator 281 and judging in MMA

Bellator Scott Coker
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: President of Bellator Scott Coker speaks onstage during the Bellator-DAZN announcement press conference on June 26, 2018 at Viacom in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Bellator MMA)

This past Friday at Bellator 281, the interim welterweight title was on the line. One of the more exciting fighters in the division, Michael “Venom” Page (20-2), was seeking to become interim champion as he took on Logan Storley (14-1).

Both men came into Bellator 281 riding winning streaks. For MVP, he had won six fights in a row after suffering his only career loss to Douglas Lima. Meanwhile, Storley came into the contest riding a two-fight winning streak after losing his first career bout to Yaroslav Amosov.

Speaking of Amosov, the undisputed Bellator champion was supposed to face MVP last Friday. However, he’s currently working to defend his home of Ukraine from oncoming Russian invasions. As a result, Storley stepped in to face MVP for the interim title.

This was a classic striker versus wrestler matchup. Unfortunately, there are times where these kind of matchups generate an extremely boring affair and that is what happened at Bellator 281. When the fight was on the feet, MVP was able to land some solid shots that got the crowd excited.

However, the majority of the fight saw Storley shooting in for takedowns and holding MVP in place. After five rounds, the fight went to the scorecards. Storley was able to secure a solid amount of takedowns, but he never did anything with them. He more just held MVP in place and did zero damage.

With that, there were a lot of questions regarding how the decision would go. In the end, two of the three judges gave the fight and the Bellator interim welterweight title to Logan Storley. MVP suffered his second career loss and the fans were not thrilled with the headliner.

Bellator 281 Fallout

Someone else who didn’t seem thrilled with the headliner was Bellator president Scott Coker. Coker had his post-fight press conference and he seemed uncharacteristically annoyed by the results of the main event at Bellator 281. Coker is normally a guy who doesn’t show a ton of emotion.

Quite the opposite of UFC president Dana White. However, Coker couldn’t hold his tongue after this one. “Honestly, I thought that MVP won that fight,” Coker said. He continued, “You can’t just lay on somebody. You’re not doing any damage, you’re not getting closer to a submission, you’re not creating any threat. You’re just laying on somebody — and to me, that’s not MMA.”

It was honestly a breath of fresh air to hear that from Coker after Bellator 281 and I think it sheds a light on a greater issue with MMA and scoring. Right now, I think there’s too much credit given to fighters who just land takedowns and do nothing with them.

Not trying to disrespect the great wrestlers in the sport, but this is not wrestling, this is MMA. You’re supposed to use wrestling to secure a dominant position then look for ways to inflict damage or secure a submission. In the case of the new interim Bellator champion, he did nothing. He just secured a takedown and laid there.

A change in philosophy?

In cases like this, I would actually lean towards scoring a round for the guy on the bottom if the guy on the bottom was pulling a Tony Ferguson and throwing a lot of elbows. Takedowns are a big part of scoring, but they have to mean something and I think it needs to be addressed.

Not sure if things are going to change, but if so, wrestlers are going to have to adapt. Bellator 281 was a classic example of how judging shouldn’t be done. Logan Storley won a wrestling match, but can we honestly say that he won the fight?

What are your thoughts on the topic?