Marloes Coenen signs with Blackeye

Former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen has decided to move on with her career.

The 30-year-old Coenen, recently released from Strikeforce following a title-ceding loss in July to Miesha Tate, signed a three-fight contract with North Carolina-based Blackeye Promotions. The Dutch fighter made the announcement Friday on HDNet's Inside MMA.

Coenen told ESPN.com Saturday that she received several offers from promoters, but was convinced to sign with Blackeye, a largely unknown, year-old venture, "when I saw these people and what their mindset and philosophy was about MMA and women in MMA."

Representatives for Blackeye traveled to Kansas City, Kan., where Coenen is taking time to improve her wrestling skills with Jason High and Eric Akin, to discuss the promotion's long-term intentions, said Janet Martin, who handles female fighter relations for the company.

"She saw the big picture," Martin said of Coenen, the first fighter to sign a multifight agreement with Blackeye. "It's essential for her to be part of something moving forward with women's MMA. I know that plays a part in her final decision to sign with us. Seeing that she can have long-term impact, it creates some excellent opportunities for the next generation of female fighters."

Coenen's first bout with her new promoter is slated for February 2012.
Neither an opponent nor location have been determined. She likely will fight at least twice next year.

Though terms of the deal were not released, Coenen indicated the money involved is "really, really good, otherwise I wouldn't have signed.

"They gave me a non-exclusive contract so I can fight where I want to fight because they feel the bigger my brand becomes, it will help their brand as well. It's a very good point of view."

Said Martin: "With Marloes being an international fighter, not handcuffing or restricting her does open her up to fighting internationally. Being available to her fans in Europe or other locations is an important component to her career, as well it will let us expand the fan base. When she is fighting on a Blackeye card, we're hoping that that fan base becomes our viewership."

Blackeye also intends to promote male fighters, and is exploring distribution platforms on television, the Internet and pay-per-view, Martin said.

Announcements on additional fighter signings could come within the next two weeks. Blackeye plans to promote six women's weight classes, from 105 to 155 pounds.

"What we're creating is a different direction than some of the promotion companies, so our focus is developing our divisions and solidifying its fan base, its viewership and bringing great female fighters together and great female fights to the fans," Martin said.

Josh Gross covers mixed martial arts for ESPN.com.