It's been more than a week and we haven't heard a peep. No statements have been issued through media favorites like Kevin Iole or Ariel Helwani. There have been no mean spirited video blogs. Strikeforce has announced the biggest tournament in the history of American MMA and the UFC has maintained complete silence. For MMA fans, that has to be a little disconcerting.
Traditionally when UFC President Dana White sees a competitor on the horizon he strikes quickly. White isn't one to work the jab and bide his time for an opening either. He comes in windmilling, much like his favored brand of toughman style MMA, with both hands tossing wild and crazy winging blows. Usually the other guy falls down.
When Affliction made noise about promoting an MMA event, White didn't wait and see what would happen. He banned the gear outright from his promotion. By the time their first show was scheduled on July 19, 2008 in Anaheim White had another surprise for the clothing brand that made millions selling wacky t-shirts to MMA fans. They were going to face free competition on SPIKE:
"We’re competitors, so let’s compete," said White, smiling. "The guy sells T-shirts for a (expletive) living, and now he wants to be a promoter? A T-shirt guy doesn’t know what he doesn’t know about this business yet.
"He’s going to find out, though."
When Randy Couture threatened to fight elsewhere, response was quick. The UFC wouldn't allow Couture fighter Wanderlei Silva to film his workout segments for UFC 79 All Access at Xtreme Couture - the gym where he was actually training. Instead they had to move elsewhere for the shoot. And cameras wouldn't roll while anyone had on Xtreme Couture gear. The UFC wasn't playing around.
When Elite XC broke hallowed ground, promoting the first MMA event on network television, White was typically dismissive. The show was to be headlined by YouTube sensation Kimbo Slice, in White's mind an inappropriate torchbearer for the sport he loved:
"The amount of talent and fights we put on are second to none," White said. "Think about it, the CBS fight that they are coming up with, who gives a crap about Kimbo Slice? This guy can't fight MMA.
"You know what would happen if he fought in the UFC? I'd put him in against (lightweight champion) BJ Penn and (Slice) would get annihilated.
"The guy he is fighting, James Thompson, might get knocked out before he gets into the cage. Kimbo has no credibility at all in MMA. ... I am telling you, BJ Penn would beat him."
When Fedor Emelianenko called off contract negotiations with the UFC, White exploded in a red hot rage. He had been public and open about his desire to sign the reigning PRIDE heavyweight champion. "I want Fedor," he told the press. When the Russian fighter, considered by most the best in the sport, instead signed with Strikeforce, the UFC President couldn't contain his fury:
"These guys are going to come in and co-promote?" White asked. "How the hell are they going to co-promote anything? … It was basically them coming in and saying, 'We've got this guy; some people might say he's the best fighter in the world; we want half your business. That sh*t probably works in Russia. Not here."
White is never silent. He's the go-to quote for reporters on a lazy day. His opinion is sought about every issue in the sport, no matter how small or seemingly unrelated to the UFC. So why hasn't he said anything about Strikeforce's biggest event yet?
To me it can only mean one thing: White is planning something particularly nasty for Strikeforce and he wants to wait until he can announce his dastardly plans before commenting. There is no way the UFC allows this to go unanswered. There will be a response, likely a free show running in competition on SPIKE, either now or in later rounds. White and the UFC will certainly come out swinging. It's how Showtime and Strikeforce weather the blows that will decide how succesful MMA can be outside the Zuffa banner.