The battle lines have been drawn in the sand and UFC president Dana White wants to make it clear that his beef is with Showtime, not his MMA counterparts, Strikeforce.
“I’m not anti-Strikeforce; I don’t dislike those guys,” White said at yesterday’s UFC 102 pre-fight press conference. “I dislike Showtime. I don’t like their attitude. They think they’re better than they really are. They’ve been second rate at boxing, second rate at programming. Now they think they’re great at mixed martial arts, and my fight is with them, not with Strikeforce.”
White’s stance on Strikeforce has changed quite a bit since the San Jose-based organization first inked mixed martial arts’ most coveted free agent, WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko, earlier this month.
“(Signing Emelianenko) will put (Strikeforce) out of business,” White previously stated. “These guys have no money and they have no distribution. Four (expletive) people watch Showtime. Their last fight they put on, do you know how many people watched that fight? 245,000 people watched that fight.”
At one point, the brash Prez had even called his MMA rival “Strikefarce.”
It’s not unheard of for White to lash out at a competitor, just ask Affliction Entertainment and EliteXC, but based off of yesterday’s presser, White has definitely adjusted his radar.
“They got their ass kicked always by HBO at boxing, yet they tried to stay in it,” he said. “They got their ass kicked with HBO in programming, and they’re still around. Their going to get their ass kicked in mixed martial arts too. Just not by HBO.”
Strikeforce announced Wednesday that Fedor would be making his Strikeforce debut against Brett Rogers sometime in November on Showtime. Although they have yet to announce a date or location, guess what White’s getting ready to do?
Looks like MMA’s monopoly intends to add a third show to their already busy month. He too didn’t announce a date or venue, however you can rest assured that Strikeforce won’t have an entire Saturday to themselves.
But that news wasn’t what caught people off guard. What really got the rumor mill buzzing was that White said their third November card will be headlined by lightweight top contender Diego Sanchez challenging champ BJ Penn for his strap, but it won’t be made available via pay-per-view or on Spike TV.
Hmmmm … If that’s not a blatant hint at a possible network deal, then I don’t know what is.
“I like trying new things all the time, and one of the big things that I like to do is I like to give back to the fans all the time,” White said. “Boxing, other mixed martial arts events, all these other people in the industry, nobody gives back more fights on free TV than we do. I’m a big advocate of that.
“When you have fans that keep buying the pay-per-views every month, you’ve got to give back. On this one, I’m going to try it.”
Keep in mind, UFC 104 takes place October 24th inside Staples Center in L.A. This is going to be an insane Holiday Season.