When Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal was asked last week about the lack of media turnout for last weekend’s Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov event in Cincinnati, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ admitted that he was put off by the situation, but there wasn’t much he or anyone else in the promotion could do about it.
“I was hoping there would be more people out here, more media, more questions, but really I guess ya’ll don’t care about us that much because everybody’s worried about other issues instead of the fights this weekend — I’m just being real,” Lawal said, referring to the fact that the media and fans were more enamoured by the soap opera Nick Diaz was involved in during the week leading up to Strikeforce event, than they were the event itself. ”[Luke Rockhold]‘s fighting for a title, you got two fights in the heavyweight tournament. …It’s not to me, but it’s a slap in the face to them [that there isn't more coverage of the event]. I don’t know what happened [with Diaz] but it’s not like he was speaking his mind, saying ‘I think this press conference is dumb.’ He just didn’t show up. Now, speaking out and telling the truth is a different story than not doing something that helps the fight. That’s on Diaz. I think he’s a hell of a fighter, but like I said, here we are talking about Diaz instead of this event.”
When asked whether or not he might regret not toeing the company line by complaining that the event didn’t get the press or the backing it should have from the UFC’s marketing department, which some may say was reflected by the dismal ratings the show got, Mo didn’t back down.
“I don’t give a shit,” he said. “I’m going to speak my mind. What are they going to do, say ‘Respect the organization or you’re going to be out forever?’ Get the fuck out of here with that shit. I’m just keeping it real. Make sure you put that in there.”
Former UFC heavyweight champ and Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Finalist Josh Barnett didn’t pull any punches either when discussing the show’s promotion.
“It’s disappointing,” said Josh Barnett, one of the four Grand Prix semifinalists on the card. “I’d really like it if we could get a little bit of back-up from the UFC on this. Just a blurb. I’ve talked to some of the fighters and the conversation has come up, why can’t Dana [White] do one little video blog, one little piece saying, please come watch these fights because they’re good fights? I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t think they’re good fights.”
Well, apparently Dana White isn’t a fan of his fighters “keeping it real.” When asked by Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole about Lawal and Barnett’s shared opinion that Strikeforce’s parent company Zuffa, Forza or whatever you want to call it, didn’t help market last weekend’s event, the UFC president responded in typical Dana White style:
“If Mo whatever the [expletive] his name is, or any of those guys, think I planned all this shit this week, they’re out of their minds. Yes, we signed Overeem and made the Brock fight. Do you think I expected Nick Diaz to pull this shit? We have all kinds of stuff going and I didn’t need this in my life,” White explained pointedly. “It is what it is and I never had a thought in my mind of fucking with Strikeforce. But I promote the UFC 24/7.”