During the “UFC on Versus 1″ post-fight interviews last night, UFC head honcho Dana White had some interesting things to say in regards to Strikeforce fighters Jake Shields and Fedor Emelianenko.
Upstart fighting organization Strikeforce will be holding its second live fight on CBS on April 17th in Nashville. Middleweight champion Jake Shields will be taking on former UFC fighter Dan Henderson (in Henderson’s first fight since leaving the UFC) in what will be his last fight under contract with Strikeforce. Shields has been vocal about his willingness to fight for the UFC; and these comments made by Dana White to MMAJunkie after Sunday’s fight seem to indicate that Shields could have a home in the UFC.
“Dan Henderson is fighting [expletive] Jake Shields,” White said. “Come on. Are you serious? Jake Shields is 170 pounds, and he’s their (185-pound) champion. And I just found out today that they’re running commercials on [CBS], and the commercials are like three seconds, and it basically says, ‘MMA legend Dan Henderson,’ and he hits a heavy bag, I guess, and looks back at the camera. That’s the [expletive] commercial. How about, ‘Jake Shields is our [expletive] champion’?”
White went into more detail about what he perceives are Strikeforce’s motives.
“Jake Shields is on the last fight of his contract, so they’re feeding him to Dan Henderson right now because they want to get rid of him because he’s going to go away, or they’re going to have to pay him some big money to stick around or whatever the deal is,” White said. “‘We’re paying more money to Dan Henderson than we can afford already, so let’s get Jake’s ass kicked by Dan Henderson and get rid of Jake Shields.’ It’s such [expletive] bush-league [expletive], and you guys know it. They’re a [expletive] joke. Showtime’s always been a joke with all their sports programming, and this is no different.”
Very few are giving Shields the edge in this fight with Henderson and White is no different. But whether or not Shields wins, White is willing to engage in a bidding war for his services.
“If Jake Shields could pull [off a win over Henderson], that would be incredible, and good for him,” White said. “He’s going to get paid because what’s going to happen is we would love to take him from there, and I’m sure they’d love him to stick around.”
He went on, “I will help drive that [expletive] number right up through the roof and let the Showtime boys pay him a lot of money so that Jake can stick it right up their ass. ‘I just choked out Dan Henderson, and now you [expletives] are going to pay me for trying to stick it up my ass. I’m going to stick it up yours.'”
It is easy to see that White is quite willing to take off the gloves when competing with Strikeforce. The brash UFC figurehead apparently has no qualms with driving up the price for a fighter, creating false rumors about counter-programming, or contributing to rumors surrounding their most high-profile fighter.
Consensus top heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko has been ambiguously out of action since his first fight for Strikeforce, and there has been much speculation as to why. When asked about this, White played it close to the chest.
“What’s going on?” White asked. “Why isn’t he fighting? That’s weird.”
He left the topic with a quote that could possibly mean nothing at all, but is certainly interesting and will definitely set the rumor mill abuzz.
“I don’t know (if he has a contract with Strikeforce),” White said. “If he doesn’t, that would be interesting, wouldn’t it?”
The prospect of both Shields and Emelianenko competing against the top fighters in the UFC is more than exciting. The likelihood of either fighter actually making it over to the UFC is obviously unclear, but White certainly has our attention.