UFC President Dana White has never been one to mince words and though the brash figurehead is known for always being blunt there are some topics that, when broached, draw his ire more than others. MMAJunkie recently spoke with White and discovered one of those sensitive topics: the assumption that Strikeforce is in the same league as the UFC.
“I’m going to tell you what the big problem is,” White told MMAJunkie. “People ask me ‘What do you think about Strikeforce doing this?’ How the [expletive] can you talk to me about Strikeforce? How can you put Strikeforce in the same [expletive] sentence as the UFC – seriously – with a straight face? How can you do it? The MMA guys, you guys feel like you have to be fair. No you don’t. It would be like boxing covering some [expletive] event that’s happening in Ohio (rather than a big fight in Las Vegas).”
Strikeforce, while not as big a promotion as the UFC, still claims some serious talent on its roster. They currently employ heavyweight great Fedor Emelianenko but White brushes that fact off; saying that until Emelianenko steps in to the Octagon he will remain an obscurity to mainstream MMA fans.
“[Strikeforce has] sold 4,000 tickets to the (June 26) Fedor fight,” White said. “That fight is in a couple of weeks. Nobody gives a [expletive], and nobody is going to give a [expletive] about Fedor until he gets in here and fights the best fighters in the world. And believe me when I tell you I tried to make it happen. You don’t even know the crazy [expletive] places that I’ve flown and the [expletive] that I’ve done to try and get this fight done. It got to the point where it became an obsession. I wasn’t sleeping.
“I’ve signed Brock Lesnar, who came from the WWE, James Toney from boxing – he’s a nut chasing me all over the place – Tito Ortiz, whom I hated, and he hated me. I signed him twice when we hated each other. I’ve kept Chuck Liddell, kept Matt Hughes, kept Rich Franklin, when they were all champions. Anderson Silva, I’ve dealt with all the crazy [expletive] with him. But I can’t sign Fedor? How is this possible that I can’t sign this guy? It’s not possible. These guys don’t want to fight the best in the world.”
White explained further how his problem with Srikeforce extends beyond the attention that they get for having Fedor on their roster and why he takes issue with anyone who holds the UFC and Strikeforce on the same level.
“Guys who deserve to be called the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world are the guys who are fighting the best in the world three times a year,” said White. “So when you talk about the rankings and all this [expletive], you’re going to put Strikeforce in the same [expletive] sentence as the UFC? We’re global. We’re all over the world. These guys can’t sell tickets in their own hometown. They’re dying. They just had a heavyweight championship fight with a guy who got knocked the [expletive] out in his previous fight. You know what I’m saying? It’s insane. When people wonder why I say these people are being paid for rankings, and this is all a crock of [expletive], do you really have to ask me that question? Seriously, look at it for what it is.”
Despite his obvious disdain for the rival promotion White maintains that Strikeforce presents the UFC with no real competition and, instead of wishing to see them fail, he actually hopes for their continued success.
“Everybody thinks it’s me being anti-competition,” White said. “There is no competition. We’re the NFL. You don’t see people looking at the NFL and going, ‘Yeah, but he’s not the best player in the world because there’s a guy playing for the Canadian Football League or the Arena League over here.’ We’re the NFL. There is no other guy. Strikeforce, we need Strikeforce to exist. I don’t want Strikeforce to go away. I need these guys. I need them and all the other guys. I wish the other idiots didn’t blow their brains out like they did.”