Leading up to Bellator 106 this past weekend, the public chatter between Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White and Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney had, for the most part, remained (relatively) tame.
Aside from a few snide remarks regarding the product Bellator puts out and the lack of people actually paying attention, the two have mostly strayed from directly acknowledging their competition (sans White calling Rebney a "piece of shit," of course).
All of this changed following the neck injury to Tito Ortiz, a UFC Hall of Fame inductee, which forced him out of what was supposed to be Bellator's first-ever pay-per-view (PPV). The heat intensified after Eddie Alvarez went home Saturday (Nov. 2, 2013) with Bellator's championship (watch full fight video highlights here).
The two issues are tied together by one word that White has used to describe both situations ... "karma:"
I'm hearing Djork oops Bjork got served a big fat plate of Karma tonight :) Congrats Eddie!!— Dana White (@danawhite) November 3, 2013
Rebney was less than impressed during the Bellator 106 post-fight news conference (watch it here) he addressed the comments, but didn't look to turn the attention from the event that had just concluded. Today, was an entirely different story.
By now, most mixed martial arts (MMA) fans are aware of the ugly -- and contracted -- legal dispute that was ultimately (and reluctantly) settled at the eleventh hour this year. No one knows better than Rebney, who after finding out the record ratings for Saturday's event on Spike TV earlier today, used a more direct approach to address the comments made by White:
@danawhite If Fight of the Year & 10 times better ratings than you did on your last televised show is Karma, bring me another plate.— Bjorn Rebney (@BjornRebney) November 5, 2013
Almost simultaneously, White held a conference call, during which MMA reporter Joe Ferraro asked White to explain his use of the word "karma" (Sportnet's UFC Central):
"I have no comment on that. When I sent that karma text, everybody knows what I was talking about. He tried to f--k this kid, and then he loses. What was he shaking his head about if he was so f--king pumped about his evening? If his evening was that wonderful and he was so pumped about it, why was he back there shaking his head and looked like he wanted to f--king kill himself?"
Sure, the "head shake heard round the world" is open to interpretation, but Rebney set the record straight on the reason he moved his head back-and-forth at an inopportune time:
@dredgXIX Yep, shook my head because I couldn't believe people booed that fight decision. Incredible display of skill & courage by both men— Bjorn Rebney (@BjornRebney) November 5, 2013
What does all this mean? With White and Rebney at the helm of the top two MMA companies in the world, both have the platform to drag the other through the mud. But, it seems obvious that while Bellator has nothing to lose from such press, UFC and White could be doing more harm than good.
Who is the victor in this war of words ... if anyone? Weigh in below.