In a recent interview Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker made a comparison between himself and boxing promoter Bob Arum that apparently seems to have rubbed UFC president Dana White up the wrong way.
“Dana is kind of like the Don King,” Coker suggested in a chat with BloodyElbow.com. “He’s out there, and he’s out promoting his brand, as well as the company brand and the fighter brand. I’m more of a very direct business man. The guy I really liked wasn’t Don King. To me, it’s OK being the Bob Arum. In a lot of Bob’s early fights, you didn’t even know who promoted the fights. The fights were amazing, they were great, and they were focused on the athlete. That’s been my philosophy too. The stars of the show are in the cage.”
White brushes off the King reference, but takes offense at Coker stepping into Arum’s shoes.
“Bob Arum has put on some of the biggest fights in history, and he’s been incredibly successful. [Coker] has done neither,” White tells MMAJunkie matter-of-factly.
“He [expletive] wishes he was Bob Arum. Are you [expletive] me? Bob Arum put on some of the biggest fights in boxing history, and Bob is actually successful and made money.
“For you to compare yourself to [expletive] Bob Arum is hysterical. You can call me Don King or whatever you want. But calling yourself Bob Arum is a [expletive] joke.”
Despite his obvious annoyance at Coker’s remarks White isn’t declaring all-out war on either him or the Strikeforce promotion which he describes as a, “tiny little feeder show.”
“We couldn’t care less (what they’re doing),” White says. “But we don’t want them to blow their brains out and go away. We need these guys to exist. Listen, whether they want to believe it or not, they’re the small show. They’re a feeder show. Whether they want to believe it, that’s what they are. We need them.”
In fairness to Coker he has never tried to make out as if Strikeforce are anything other than a distant second to the UFC, but listening to him talk recently it’s clear he’s currently energized by his burgeoning 265lb weight class which he believes stacks up favorably with their biggest rivals.
“The thing I’m really excited about for 2011 is our heavyweight division,” told BloodyElbow. “I believe it’s the best heavyweight division in mixed martial arts. It’s the most proven heavyweight division in mixed martial arts. When you get guys like Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Fedor, Bigfoot, Josh Barnett. You have Lavar Johnson coming up in that mix. Maybe Daniel Cormier coming in late 2011. We have Brett Rogers and Andrei Arlovski. Sergei Kharitonov. This heavweight division is unbelievable.”
There’s certainly a case to be made on that point, though Coker’s real challenge will be to actually get his stars to actually get into the cage and fight, something that has proven challenging with fighter’s like Overeem and Emelianenko.
Still, Coker would do well to avoid antagonizing White who is always going to come out on top in a war of words between the two and has a reputation for going for the jugular when provoked.