Don’t expect Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to suddenly do a 180-degree turn on its long held policy of refusing to do cross-promotion fights with other mixed martial arts (MMA) companies. That’s the big takeaway from this latest exchange with reporters during the UFC on ESPN 15 post-fight press conference (watch it).
The whole thing started rather innocuously after someone asked White whether he’d heard Bellator president Scott Coker’s declaration that Bellator had the best light heavyweight division in the world (now that Jon Jones was no longer technically an active UFC 205er).
“Isn’t he cute?” White responded with a smile.
But later in the press conference, someone else asked whether UFC would be willing to pit its fighters against Bellator fighters. White apparently has a “one Bellator question per press conference” threshold, because he got a bit snippy.
“I’ve talked to Scott Coker in the past and he’s really game about doing cross-promotional fights. Would you ever do that with an organization that you guys don’t own?”
“With who?” Dana asked wryly.
“With who?” White repeated. “Guys, everybody they have in their light heavyweight division we let go of. He’s got the best light heavyweight division? We let those guys all go. It’s like the f**king dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. But I get it. He’s got to f**king do his thing. I’m not s**tting on him. He’s got to try to do his thing. He’s got to try to sell fights. The way you don’t sell fights is, ‘I’ve got the best light heavyweight division in the world.’ Everybody that was there was let go from here. It’s a pretty silly statement.”
“What super fight would I make with Bellator?”
We imagine it’s exactly the same response White would have given about Strikeforce a year before Zuffa bought it up and assimilated the roster. That group included guys like Daniel Cormier, Fabricio Werdum, Robbie Lawler, Luke Rockhold, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, among others. All whom had UFC gold wrapped around their waist — and some the UFC had let go previously.
While not as developed as Strikeforce in its heyday, there’s still a ton of great fighters getting massively unappreciated in Bellator simply due to the lack of exposure. Ryan Bader, Gegard Mousasi, Douglas Lima, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, and Patricio Freire are all credible threats to their respective division champions in UFC. And that just scratches the surface when it comes to fun fights that could be made without the walls between promotions.
So I guess what I’m trying to say here is UFC clearly needs to buy Bellator.
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