Bjorn Rebney got what he wanted on Friday night at Bellator 110 when Quinton Jackson and King Mo Lawal picked up wins in Bellator's four-man light heavyweight tournament. The two men will likely meet on Bellator's first PPV in May, which was announced last night by the promotion. At the event's post-fight press conference, Rebney was asked about two hot topics in MMA of late - the banning of TRT, and the UFC's decision to re-sign Gilbert Melendez. First he spoke on TRT (via MMA Fighting):
"I've had the same opinion on [TRT], and the same stance on it since the first time I asked the question," he said. "I just never felt that the controls were tight enough to be able to allow it to occur. When guys use it it's an unfair advantage. If you're going to equalize the playing field, the best way to equalize the playing field is to eliminate it in totality. I've never wavered on that...it is an unfair advantage when misused. Anybody who's in this sport recognizes that people misuse it."
"It's unfortunate for guys who have a legitimate physical defect," Rebney said. "But they're on the side of doing it right for everybody, and the vast majority are going to be able fight clean now and not have to fight against somebody who isn't [on TRT]. So I think it's a good move."
He also stated that he wasn't aware of anyone applying for a TUE for a Bellator fight up until now, and it doesn't matter in the future anyway. It was noted that Rampage Jackson did not apply for one before his bout with Christian M'Pumbu.
"If it helped the sport it terms of giving fighters like Gil who are amongst the best in the world get a bigger stake in the game -- which they deserve -- I think it's a good thing," he told MMA Fighting on Saturday night after Bellator 110 at Mohegan Sun. "I think it's good for the sport. What's good for the fighters is good for this game."
He stated that Gil's TUF spot (he's coaching TUF 20 against Anthony Pettis) was because the Bellator deal pretty much forced the UFC's hand with their clauses regarding TV shows on Spike and the like. He also thinks this form of restricted free agency, for lack of a better term, works for MMA:
"I think it's indicative of how the system should work," Rebney said. "The UFC had matching rights -- we have matching rights.And you negotiate those matching rights when you sign a guy like Gil, or when you sign a superstar fighter. And the idea is, if you support that fighter and build him up over the years, you should be able to give somebody the equivalent of whatever they were offered and then retain their services, because you helped build them up and the fighter helped build up your organization. We made Gil a great offer. It had a lot of perks in it in terms of on air stuff and in terms of pay-per-view at lower levels than I've ever seen in this sport, and in higher participation than I've ever seen in this sport.
"Since I first got into this I've always thought that the guys who fuel the machine are the fighters. People aren't buying par-per-views to see my face or Dana [White]'s face, they're buying it because of fighters like Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson or Michael Chandler or Eddie Alvarez, etc. They should be a very large scale beneficiary of that process when it goes for premium TV. I hope the bar does get set. We're going to win some of those guys, we're going to lose some of them, and they're going to match on some."