by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
PORTLAND, Ore. – “(Signing Fedor Emelianenko) will put (Strikeforce) out of business. 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.”
This was UFC president Dana White’s proclamation immediately after Strikeforce announced the signing of coveted heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, ending a two-week sweepstakes that put the MMA world on the edge of its seat. White, it appeared, was zeroing in on Strikeforce.
And he is, but at a Thursday press conference for UFC 102 in Portland, the brash UFC exec said the San Jose, Calif., based promotion was not the focus.
“I’m not anti-Strikeforce; I don’t dislike those guys,” he said. “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.”
Showtime was the first premium cable network to jump into the mixed martial arts arms race, though its original promotional partner, EliteXC, is now defunct. Strikeforce bridged the gap in February, re-establishing the premium cable channel’s MMA ties.
White said his beef with the pay-for-play channel had roots in his love of boxing and claimed the channel failed to promote combat sports.
“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.”
Showtime Networks representative Chris DeBlasio declined comment on White’s remarks.
White said plans to add a third UFC event in November – headlined by UFC lightweight champ defending against Diego Sanchez ¬– are afoot. The event isn’t intended for the usual pay-per-view or Spike TV outlets, however, leading to the belief that there is a new TV partner on the horizon.