Both the UFC and Strikeforce, excuse me, Strikeforce and M-1 Global, held press conferences today. The prior to promote this Saturday’s UFC 101 event and the latter to officially introduce their groundbreaking free agent acquisition, Fedor Emelianenko. The battle lines have been drawn and UFC prez Dana White has dropped the gauntlet.
“They should have stayed the way they were,” White said today regarding Strikeforce’s attempt to become a major player in the growing sport of mixed martial arts.
In case you didn’t hear, for the second time, Emelianenko turned down an opportunity to showcase his skills inside an Octagon due to the UFC’s unwillingness to allow his manger’s M-1 Global to co-promote the show. In addition, Fedor brought to light issues that we have all heard regarding the UFC in the not-too-distant past.
“From my view point, the UFC does not have the proper attitude towards fighters,” Emelianenko said on today’s Strikeforce/M-1 Global conference call. “They do not consider fighters to be normal people, human beings. I think the UFC’s attitude towards their fighters is not the correct one.”
This time, Team Fedor has joined forces with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, a well respected and established frontman who was more than open to their laundry list of demands.
However, White cautions that this scenario has already been played out. A small promotion allows M-1 in, Fedor then gets a massive undisclosed payday and the organization subsequently folds.
“He’ll put them out of business,” White stated. “They have no money. These guys have no money and they have no distribution. Four (expletive) people watch Showtime. You know how many people watch their fights? Their last fight – 245,000 people watched that fight (on Showtime). That’s nothing.”
Prior to Monday’s signing, White considered Strikeforce as the cute little company that was run by his former mentor. They were a tiny promotion tucked away in Northern Cali, earning just enough to get by, but never a legit contender to the top spot.
Well, I guess White still kinda considers them that.
“They’re a small-town show,” White said. “Cung Le (Strikeforce middleweight champion) hasn’t defended the title since like 1997. (Lightweight champ) Josh Thomson hasn’t defended the belt in like two years. Who is their other champion? Alistair Overeem (Heavyweight king) – he hasn’t defended the belt in like two years. It’s ‘Strikefarce.’ It’s a little regional show with no one in it.”
White must now consider Strikeforce a threat, if not an irritation, as he is going on the offensive for the first time against his teacher. Standard Operating Procedure for the brash president once he senses competition.
Meanwhile, Coker refused to engage in a verbal sparring session with his former pupil, opting only to say that it wasn’t a shocker that Dana was eventually going to lash out.
“I’m not really surprised,” Coker matter-of-factly stated. “Is anybody really surprised?”
White said they fully intended to battle Strikeforce for MMA fans’ eyes, which could include counter-programming, similar to what the UFC has done in the past against Affliction Entertainment and EliteXC. Whatever angle they decide to take, White issued a stern warning to his MMA promoting counterparts.
“We’ll see what happens,” White said. “If they want to fight me, we’re gonna fight. We know how that goes, and we know how it ends.”