Bellator president Scott Coker impressed by James Haskell ahead of MMA debut

Brian Barry

Tuesday 31 March 2020 11:50, UK

Former England international James Haskell has signed for Bellator
Image: Former England rugby international James Haskell signed with Bellator last August

Bellator president Scott Coker has spoken of his enthusiasm ahead of James Haskell's upcoming MMA debut.

The ex-England rugby star is set to enter the cage for the first time, with a fight penciled in for the Bellator London card on May 16, which has not yet been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"What I really like about James is that, yes he does have an outside popularity from rugby, and is a very popular character, personality in the UK," Coker told Sky Sports.

"But what I love about athletes like him is he goes into the gym, he finds the top gym in London, he goes into the gym and starts training as an MMA fighter. He's not trying to cut corners, pick and choose who he trains with. MVP (Michael Venom Page) trains there, a lot of our top fighters train there, they have some of the best coaches in the world.

He's not trying to cut corners.
Coker has been impressed with Haskell's attitude

"They're putting him through the process. He's developing from a rugby player, he's dabbled in some jiu-jitsu, he did it pretty seriously before, but now growing and evolving into an MMA fighter.

"That journey could take a long time. Depending on his commitment, which seems to be very very high, it can manifest quickly sometimes because of all his other physicality in rugby, his training, his athleticism, all that he brings into the sport.

"So that's when I know someone is taking it very seriously. Usually they have success, because they're making the transformation, they're taking all the right steps. And James is in a very good situation, he's doing everything he can do to help him, to move forward and transition into [an elite MMA fighter]."

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Haskell said that he's taking MMA very seriously ahead of his debut

It all makes for a winning formula for Coker, Bellator, and Haskell.

"I can say that I'm excited to have him on board. He's going to be great for us, and hopefully we'll be great for him," he continued.

"Anytime you have a high profile athlete like that coming into mixed martial arts, it's always a good day.

"What makes it all work, really exciting is that he's taking all the right steps to do it properly."