“The back-and-forth is starting now between the UFC and Strikeforce,” UFC Hall Of Famer Randy Couture stated yesterday (full story). “It was only a matter of time before the adversarial relationship started between them, I think, with the Affliction stuff and those contracts being up in the air and both organizations trying to sign those fighters.”
Couture may not realize just how right he was. With Affliction dead and buried, it didn’t take UFC President Dana White long to get started on his next battle. White, who has always been complimentary towards Strikeforce and their CEO, Scott Coker, blasted the organization today during the UFC 101 pre-fight press conference (video).
“They have no money, no fighters,” White stated. “They’re a small-town show.
“[Strikeforce middleweight champion] Cung Le hasn’t defended the title since like 1997,” White continued. “[Strikeforce lightweight champion] Josh Thomson hasn’t defended the belt in like two years. Who’s their other champion? [Strikeforce heavyweight champion] Alistair Overeem? He hasn’t defended the belt in like two years. It’s Strike-Farce. It’s a little regional show with no one in it.”
Meanwhile, Coker took White’s comments in stride during a M-1 Global/Strikeforce press conference that took place earlier today.
“Dana White is a promoter and will say what he’s going to say,” Coker noted. “But we’ve been in business a long time and look forward to putting on some big shows with Fedor.”
Up until this week, White had always been respectful of Coker and Strikeforce. He had even said that he wanted their Strikeforce on NBC show to be a huge hit when it debuted last fall.
“Have you heard me say a bad word about Strikeforce?” White asked USA Today last October. “I wish them all the luck in the world. I have nothing bad to say about guys who are running the right promotion.”
Things changed on Monday when Strikeforce announced the signing of Fedor Emelianenko, after Fedor turned down a rumored $3-5 million per fight offer from the UFC. White noted that he was upset that they couldn’t get a deal done.
“Then I said, ‘f*** him,” White said. “There was no way in hell that deal was going to happen. I offered him a great deal. I guarantee you the Strikeforce deal wasn’t in the same universe with ours. It wasn’t close. They probably didn’t even pay him as much as Affliction was. It was completely obvious they didn’t want to do a deal. He just didn’t want to be in the UFC.”
Fedor Emelianenko noted today that the UFC’s offer was “miserable”, and that the UFC had been misleading the public by releasing different numbers on the internet than the ones that were presented to him. He went on to note that he would have signed with the UFC if the rumored deal was, infact, true. Fedor’s manager, M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchtein, went on to state that the deal was “nothing special.”
“He’ll put them out of business,” White stated of the Russian heavyweight. “They have no money and no distribution. You know how many people watch their fights? Their last fight [on Showtime cable], 245,000 people watched that fight. That’s nothing.”
Strikeforce will run their biggest show to date next Saturday, with Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg airing live on Showtime. UFC will be countering by airing all five parts of the UFC’s Ultimate 100: Greatest Fights special head-to-head with the Strikeforce event.