"I hope they do 10 million viewers next week," White says. "Have you heard me say a bad word about Strikeforce? I wish them all the luck in the world. I have nothing bad to say about guys who are running the right promotion."Of course, that was a different time. Strikeforce had yet to purchase several important fighter contracts from Pro Elite; they had yet to sign a broadcast deal with Showtime, and most importantly, they had yet to agree to a co-promotion with M-1 Global to work with Fedor Emelianenko.
Throw in the fact that they are the UFC's last North American competitor left standing, and well, White's comments should come as no surprise.
In the past, though, upstart promoters have made the mistake of engaging in a war of words with White. The IFL, EliteXC and Affliction did it and failed. But don't expect to hear Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker go down that path anytime soon.
Coker said on this week's edition of The MMA Hour (to be posted later this week on MMA FanHouse) that he isn't interested in starting a verbal fight with White.
"The national enquirer of MMA reporters -- that's what I call them, right? -- they're just looking for something to put on their headlines or this and that," Coker said. "But I pretty much say how I feel, and I know a lot of reporters try to get a quote from you or create this controversy and things like that. But honestly, we're so busy right now that the perceived battle or them taking the gloves off ... it's like everyday when I wake up, I'm focusing on what we need to do and that's it. And I'm sure they wake up everyday just focused on what they need to do.
"And so the Fedor thing, I didn't think that there would be that kind of reaction when we signed Fedor. And so you know, it happened and that's it. But I have a show to do this Saturday, and we're going to keep marching down the road and try to make Saturday the best event that we can, and were going to continue to try and build this business and create strategic alliances, look for sponsors and look for other relationships that make sense strategically. I'm just about going and building this business, and that's what I've done for the last 25 years, and so to me it's engaging and that perceived battle ... that's not what I'm about. I'm about building Strikeforce and building this business and moving this business forward and that's all I'm going to focus on. I think it's more the reporters try to blow up it more than it is and try to create that story and create this rivalry. I think that's really more on the media side than it is from our business side."
Strikeforce will hold arguably its most important show ever this Saturday night in San Jose. The headlining act -- Gina Carano vs. Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos for the inaugural 145-pound women's title -- is the first of its kind. Thankfully for the organization, it's the only fight on the televised portion of the card that hasn't experienced a major face lift. Every other bout has been changed due to an injury of some sort, or in Nick Diaz's case, failing to show up for a pre-fight drug test.
Regardless, Strikeforce is hoping that Carano vs. Cyborg will help draw new MMA fans to their product. But that task just became a little more difficult. On Tuesday, the UFC announced that they will counter-program the Strikeforce event by re-airing the most successful pay-per-view in their 16-year history, UFC 100, for free on Spike TV.
All of a sudden that "perceived battle" has become, to steal a catchphrase, as real as it gets.