(‘Let’s see how you like going up against a greased up Canadian and Lyoto Machida, you f*ckers. I promise you it isn’t as much fun as it sounds.’)
Though he’s been uncharacteristically complimentary of Scott Coker’s Strikeforce operation, even after their move into the big time with the purchase of select Pro Elite assets, that doesn’t mean Dana White is content to let them operate free from any UFC interference. When Strikeforce makes its Showtime debut with Diaz-Shamrock on April 11, the UFC will pull one of its favorite counter-programming tactics, running a popular recent pay-per-event for free on Spike TV the same night.
Strikeforce will go up against UFC 94, as Dana White and Co. attempt to draw fans away from the competing organization with the main event that made “Vaseline” a popular keyword term for MMA websites everywhere. If anybody’s up for that challenge, it’s probably Frank Shamrock and Nick Diaz, who will say enough crazy things in the run-up to the bout to make you forget all about crazy things of the past.
So is this counter-programming effort a sign that the UFC will aggressively oppose Strikeforce the way they did Affliction and Pro Elite? Not necessarily. The UFC is a lot like an asshole older brother at times. He wants you to do well in a way, but he’s not above beating the hell out of you in front of your junior high girlfriend just to remind everyone who the top dog is.
The UFC seems less intent on destroying Strikeforce altogether as in proving that an old UFC event on free TV still beats a new non-UFC event on premium cable, thus making the point White has been reiterating for well over a year now: it’s not MMA that’s popular, it’s the UFC. This lesson may very well be intended more for TV executives looking on from afar and wondering which horse to back than it is for Scott Coker and Strikeforce, who are nothing more than collateral damage.