by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At the up coming Strikeforce on December 8th the promotion will be holding its first ever 205lb Championship match as MMA veteran Vernon “Tiger” White and The Ultimate Fighter 1 alum Bobby Southworth collide.
Both fighters are looking to rebound after disappointments in their most recent fights and build momentum for next year, but that’s about where the similarities end.
While it may be conceivable that Southworth will be competing to further his fame, White has a decidedly different motivation heading into the fight.
“I’m ready to have this long awaited fight with Bobby Southworth because there’s a lot of people that really look up to this guy and don’t realize what kind of jerk he is,” exclaims Vernon. “He likes to make fun of people and I want to shut his mouth.”
“Basically he irritates me a lot,” continued White. “What he did to Chris Leben wasn’t called for on The Ultimate Fighter. I’m kind of in the same situation as Chris, so I’d like to give him [Southworth] a little bit of ammo or a little bit of fuel to burn his fire and see if he’ll talk trash about me. If he’s willing to do that then I’ll shut him up when we get in the cage.”
According to Vernon, not only is there motivation to shut up Southworth, this fight has been a long time coming.
“Somebody had set it up like two times before,” explained White. “I don’t even know if he knew about it, but they asked me and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.'”
When asked if the fact that a title on the line was further incentive to win the fight, Vernon replied with a chuckle, “Not necessarily…because belts come and go, but to shut people up – that’s few and far between.”
After a solid 2005 and beginning to this year, White has had a rough go of things over the past few months. After taking some time off, Vernon is ready to use this fight as a catalyst to bigger and better things.
“In my last two matches, the one up in Canada [in Elite Fighting] and the one out in LA [in the WFA], were disappointing losses by decisions,” commented White. “But a lot of people figure that I won the fights, so the true fans know, all my fans out there know I’m an exciting fighter and whoever I go up against it’s going to be a good match”
“I can do nothing but get better,” added Vernon. “Obviously it’s a turning point in my life. A lot of people that know me personally know I went through some hard times, moving up to Susanville and helping Ken out and then going through some money problems. So now it’s time for me to buckle down and start making some money like everybody else. I’m tired of these small paydays; it’s time for me to start making some mad money.”
As for the future, word has it that White has the inside track on joining teammate Ken Shamrock’s Reno Lions of the IFL next season, but that’s not all that Vernon sees for himself in the coming year.
“I want to stay as active as possible,” stated White. “The IFL, from what I understand, is going to be about 4-5 fights a year, so when I’m not fighting for them I’d like to fight somewhere else. I want to keep my feet wet because once you get out of the ring, the ring rust sets in and I don’t want ever to second guess my skills.”
Along with a busier fight schedule, Vernon intends to explore avenues outside the fight game.
“I’m looking at doing some TV programs or whatever I can do, anything to stay busy, maybe even commentating,” expressed White. “I was looking at Chuck [Liddell] and he was doing Celebrity Fit Club [on VH1], helping these guys out…that should be me, I should be doing stuff like that, I’m better looking than that guy [laughs]. The more recognition we can bring from other avenues to this area is better for everybody.”
First things first as Vernon is clearly focused on his task at hand at Strikeforce. A point he reiterated when he concluded, “I’d like to thank my sponsors…Bite Me Mouthguards, Sierra Yamaha up in Chilcoot, California and Big Time Pest Control in Redding, California. As far as all the fans go, come up to the show because there’s going to be some fireworks popping off in Southworth’s face. So everyone come prepared to ‘oohh’ and ‘aahh’ because it’s going to be beautiful.”