Since Zuffa bought Strikeforce in the early months of this year there’s been much speculation about UFC president Dana White’s influence on the company and it’s future.
Will he try to fold it into the UFC? Is he planning to phase out the female fighters? Is he interested in co-promoting fights or enticing some of the promotion’s leading talents to the Octagon?
In a revealing and in-depth new interview with Sports Illustrated White turns the conversation on it’s head by revealing that he takes no part in the running of Strikeforce.
“I’ve kind of removed myself from the Strikeforce piece of this thing,” White tells SI.com’s Tim Marchman. “You would think it would be the opposite, that some people would be happy about that, but actually some of these fight camps are unhappy that I have removed myself from it. And I’ve been getting some phone calls, and some of these guys that are involved in Strikeforce would like me to be more involved in Strikeforce.”
According to White it’s UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta who’s the main man behind the scenes at the sport’s second biggest promotion.
“Oh, it’s true. Trust me. Ask Lorenzo. Interview Lorenzo, and ask him how involved in Strikeforce I am. It’s absolutely zero. I wanted nothing to do with it, didn’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole. So I’ve literally not done anything. I have nothing to do with the Strikeforce piece of this thing, and it’s basically been, Lorenzo’s been working on it with some of the people here that work for us at the UFC.”
It’s understandable why some fight camps might be a little put out by White’s hands-off stance with Strikeforce given that he holds a great deal of power within Zuffa and his apparent lack of interest may not bode well for the promotion’s long-term future. White however denies that this is the case.
“Well, the fact that I’m not involved in it doesn’t mean that other people aren’t. Just because I’m not involved doesn’t mean that we’re going to absorb it,” before adding a little later, “The bottom line is, Strikeforce — absorbing it? We have a deal with Showtime. If we can turn this thing into a business and make it run, then yes, we would keep Strikeforce.”
Some will remain unconvinced by this however, and in the mean time the fact that White has removed himself from the Strikeforce equation poses some problems.
For instance Fertitta seems to prefer to be less visable than White on a day-to-day basis while Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker also appears to be taking more of a backseat role these days, so who do the fans and media turn to for answers?
The reality is that people are going to continue asking White questions about what’s going on with Strikeforce. The recent issue with Alistair Overeem pulling out of the heavyweight grand-prix is a perfect example. White appeared to be the only Zuffa employee fielding questions on the ins and outs of the situation, and in fact he revealed that Overeem’s camp specifically contacted him to try to iron out a deal.
So, like it or not, White still appears to have a lot of influence regarding what’s happening with the promotion that he was once at loggerheads with for a number of years.
Be sure to read more of White’s thoughts on a range of matters over at SI.com’s website.