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SAN JOSE, Calif. – Scott Coker knows a few things about having his promotion compared to the big guns at the UFC.

He’s been down this road before when he was heading up Strikeforce, before that promotion got folded into the UFC and ultimately shuttered. Now that he’s president of Bellator, the comparisons are old hat.

In recent years, Bellator has been signing more and more fighters from the UFC as free agents, including three at the top of tonight’s Bellator 183 event: Benson Henderson, Lorenz Larkin and Roy Nelson.

And while an argument could be made that some UFC fighters have struggled when they’ve come over to Bellator – Henderson is just 1-2 so far with two title fight losses – Coker believes it just shows the quality of fighters in his promotion.

“It goes back to when we had Strikeforce,” Coker told MMAjunkie. “It was like, ‘Strikeforce fighters are sub-par to the UFC fighters.’ And now it’s proven: It’s not about the league, it’s about the athlete. If you look at Tyron Woodley, Luke Rockhold, Daniel Cormier, Ronda Rousey, Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler – these guys all came from Strikeforce over (to the UFC). And then they kicked (UFC fighters’) asses over there. So to me, it’s like, look, it’s the same thing here. It’s not about the brand. It’s about the athlete.”

Bellator 183 takes place tonight at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie. Henderson (24-7 MMA, 1-2 BMMA) takes on Patricky Freire (17-8 MMA, 10-7 BMMA) in the main event.

In the co-feature, welterweight Paul Daley (39-15-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) meets Larkin (18-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA). And Nelson (22-14 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) makes his debut for his new promotion against heavyweight Javy Ayala (10-5 MMA, 5-2 BMMA).

Coker said there may wind up being title implications at welterweight in the Henderson-Freire fight, in particular. But that will have a lot to do with how soon a potential rematch between new champ Brent Primus and Michael Chandler can take place.

“Benson and Chandler all want to get back there,” Coker said. “We’re waiting for Primus, because his wife is having a child. But sometime next year, we’ll start getting it on, and this will have some title implications to it. I know that Michael would like (the rematch), and that’s the right thing to do, but injuries happen and you never know in this sport. I think we have to stay fluid on that.”

For more from Coker, check out the video above.

And for more on Bellator 183, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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