Heavyweight Paul Buentello has been released from his Strikeforce contract, and he isn’t leaving on good terms. The MMA “journeyman” is looking to face the world’s best fighters and he believes that they are housed inside an Octagon. No concrete word on how close he is to signing with the UFC, but his old boss wishes him well … sort of.
“We offered Paul a six-figure contract to fight Fedor [Emelianenko], but he turned it down,” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told Sherdog.com. “His decision is understandable considering Fedor’s level of skill, but at the same time, Paul didn’t really fit into our plans. He’s been a solid journeyman fighter and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
Buentello holds a solid 27-10 professional record, including wins in six of his last seven scraps. He was last seen slapping Kirill Sidelnikov silly at “Affliction: Banned,” ultimately collecting a 3rdRound TKO via doctor stoppage.
It was believed that he would return to Strikeforce after the demise of Affliction, however Buentello had a change of heart, even after the San Jose-based company inked Emelianenko.
Buentello must believe that he is a lot closer to finalizing a deal to join the UFC than he’s leading on, otherwise he wouldn’t be in this verbal spat with Coker. After Coker’s initial statements regarding Buentello’s free agent status, the heavyweight responded to his former boss’ opinions with a sense of disgust.
“I’ve never been one to get involved in the politics of the sport,” Buentello wrote to Sherdog.com in an e-mail. “I have made as little as $1 to fight the UFC champion and been paid as much as six figures to fight an up-and-coming fighter. I’m not insulted at being regarded as a journeyman fighter either since I started my career as one. Training in my garage with no training partners, I started off with a handful of losses. I always wondered what I could do given the chance to train full time, and through a lot of sacrifices and sponsors that took a shot on me, I’m happy with the result. I’ve lost two times in six years with those loses coming to champions. Am I a gatekeeper or a journeyman? Well, if I’m a gatekeeper, any organization I compete in is going to have a thin heavyweight division. I’ve never claimed to be the best in the sport. But to say I turned down Fedor because of his skill level is a slap in the face.”
The UFC has been very aggressive in gobbling up all of MMA’s talented free agents, so there’s no reason to believe that Buentello isn’t on their must-have list.
Stay tuned …