There are a lot of things we’ve come to know about Dana White over the years. He loves his Pink Berry. He relieves stress by pulling mediocre pranks on his subordinates. He’s an astute, cut throat businessman. And he holds a grudge like a mother fucker. It’s these last two traits that we’ll be examining at this time. With the UFC’s latest acquisition, Dana is in the position of working directly with many of the folks he’s either banned from the UFC or burned bridges with when attempts to work with them didn’t pan out. Aside from the recent legal quandary surrounding Roy Nelson‘s employment, Zuffa has proven through aggressive litigation and hard ball negotiation that they know their way around a contract. This makes it very likely that Dana will do just as he says in honoring all current Strikeforce related contracts.
But virtually all contracts come to an end at some point, and when Strikeforce’s agreements reach their expiration date it’s a whole new ballgame. Some Strikeforce staples, such as open, non-exclusive contracts and event co-promotion are sure to disappear. The same is certain for many of the organization’s familiar faces, both in front of the camera and in the cage. Despite Dana’s vindictive nature, he didn’t get where he is today by letting hard feelings get in the way of good business. Let’s take a closer look at who’s on the chopping block when the legal obligations dissolve and Dana is wielding the axe.
ALL BUT A BAD DREAM:
Frank Shamrock: When egos collide, take cover. It’s hard to say where this relationship started to go south. At one time Shamrock was the UFC’s most dominant champion, now he’s all but stricken from their record books. Hateful words and disses are commonplace on Twitter, Facebook, and in interviews, but it takes a special kind of hate to launch a non-profit organization. Look for Shamrock to be gone the moment his contract expires, if not sooner. It’s a shame, too, as those braces were just about to come off.
Josh Barnett: White’s relationship with Barnett is as vile as any. Barnett physically threatening a bitter rival? That’s to be expected. Dana mocking Barnett for his numerous failed drug tests? Par for the course. But this rivalry recently took a trip to bizzaro world when Barnett accused Dana of steroid abuse. The most interesting scenario would be if Barnett takes the Grand Prix title and goes on to win the belt from Overeem. Could a championship clause keep him in the mix? If not, would Dana cut a champion? He’s threatened to do so before. The war of words between this fighter and promoter would put anything the WWE has come up with to shame.
Matt Lindland: Lindland was cast out from the UFC under the pretense of having violated their sponsorship policies by wearing a banned t-shirt bearing the logo of an online casino at event weigh-ins. Yeah, that makes sense because Zuffa co-owners, the Fertitas, own Station Casinos in Vegas. What we also know is that Lindland seems like an insufferable SOB and that Dana was probably eager to have the more photogenic and all-around-pleasant Rich Franklin wearing the belt. Either way, time has not healed these wounds, and even if Lindland can get his hand raised in his next few bouts, there’s little chance he’d be invited back once his contract is up. At least he’ll be able to relieve the stress of being unemployed.
M-1 Global: We can expect this Cold War to start heating up. While the rest of the players in the Strikeforce saga likely have pretty standard contracts, M-1 Global seems firmly entrenched. It’s tough to say how far Strikeforce has bent over in an attempt to secure the services of Fedor Emelianenko. We kind of, sort of know what M-1 has demanded in the past, and we saw how all of that played out. M-1 definitely has some co-promotion rights, and we know they’ve struck a separate deal with Showtime. Considering how often they like to renegotiate their business dealings, perhaps their contract is not as iron-clad as they would hope.
LIKELY, BUT NOT CERTAIN:
Paul Daley: Daley was canned after his post-fight cheap shot on Koscheck. The glancing blow, while certainly in poor taste, was not the most egregious sin perpetrated inside or outside of the Octagon, but fresh off the heels of the Strikeforce brawl it proved a perfect opportunity to make an example of someone. That, in a nutshell, is it. Now Dana has a chance to stand by the exile and still keep “Semtex” on his roster if that’s what both guys want. Surprisingly, Daley’s already rocking the boat and risking his chance to make a living in one of the few major organizations around. We’ve seen Dana extend the olive branch before, let’s see if Daley is foolish enough to push it away if he does so again.
Nick Diaz: There’s no beef here between Dana and Diaz, it just comes down to business. There are a few things that the UFC expects from their fighters: they want them to help promote fights, appreciate their paycheck, pass their drug tests, and keep out of trouble when the cameras are rolling. None of those things are really Diaz’s strong suit. Dana has repeatedly stated that he’d love to have Diaz back in his stable of fighters, but that Diaz needs to learn to ‘play the game’. That, unfortunately, is not likely to happen.
Gus Johnson: Dana was not a big fan of his infamous post-brawl commentary, but is that enough to cut him from the roster? Probably not. For now Showtime will continue to run events with their production crew and talent, but this has historically been a sticking point for Zuffa, who prefers to steer their own ship. It’s not hard to imagine a small struggle for control of who we see in the announcer’s booth down the road.
- Chris Colemon