Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has been with the company since its inception in 2008, but Wednesday it was announced that Rebney along with President, Tim Danaher have been relieved of their duties by the majority owner, Viacom.
Bjorn Rebney and Danaher have held a total of 121 Bellator events, beginning with Bellator 1 on April 3rd, 2009—all the way through to the last event, Bellator 121 on June 6th, 2014. Including the culmination of the first ever Bellator PPV that recently took place at Bellator 120 in May.
Under the guidance of Bjorn Rebney and Tim Danaher, Bellator MMA has made its way into what is widely regarded as the 2nd biggest MMA promotion worldwide, behind the UFC. Bellator’s events currently air in over 140 countries, including regions Latin America (Fox Sports Latino), Middle East and North Africa (OSN), Russia (Russia 2), United Kingdom (Viva), Australia (TENplay), and Asia (Celestial Tiger Entertainment).
In North America, Bellator secured a TV deal and began airing on ESPN Deportes in 2009, later moving onto MTV2 in 2011, and finally moving to a broader audience on Spike TV in 2013.
The departure does not come at a huge surprise given the differing opinions between Bjorn Rebney and the owners of Bellator since Viacom had acquired a majority stake in the company in 2011.
In a press release by Bellator, Bjorn Rebney expresses bittersweet feelings leaving the promotion he has helped build from the ground up.
“It is with bittersweet emotions that I announced that I am leaving the company I founded,” Rebney said. “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.”
Tim Danaher also issued a statement, on his departure.
“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 said. “I’ve made tremendous life-long friends and feel blessed to have worked with such talented and dedicated people.”
Spike TV’s President, Kevin Kay also issued a statement on the departure of Rebney and Danaher.
“I would like to thank Bjorn and Tim on behalf of Spike and Viacom for their dedication and hard work building Bellator from the ground up,” Kay said. “They worked tirelessly in getting Bellator to where it is today. They were great partners to work with and we wish them all the best.”
It is rumored that former Strikeforce CEO, Scott Coker will be the one to replace Bjorn Rebney, as head of Bellator. Bellator’s next scheduled event is Bellator 122, taking place on July 25th.