Rivalries and feuds have become an integral part of MMA. There have been some memorable ones through the years, between fighters and between promotions. This past Monday, on the MMA Hour, WSOF matchmaker, Ali Abdel-Aziz threw out a pretty interesting challenge to Bellator's CEO, Bjorn Rebney. Basically, he proposed a card of his best fighters matched up against Bellator's best, in a "winner take all" PPV scenario.
Abdel-Aziz has been vocal in the past about the less than flattering impression that Rebney has made on him, so the call-out comes as no surprise. To date, neither Rebney nor any official from Bellator has issued a reply or a comment of any sort regarding the challenge. In a current interview with Bloody Elbow, Ali states that there is a reason behind their silence, and he will reveal it during a scheduled press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Some other topics that were touched upon during the interview included WSOF's standards that they've modeled after the UFC, their willingness to be the "college football" of mixed martial arts and the way they'll be handling drug policies and officiating when they start instituting their overseas events.
Bee In The Bonnet
I believe the media is not giving us enough credit with where we currently stand. Everybody talks about how Bellator did these great ratings, but listen, the UFC was on SPIKE TV for seven years, and all these fans watching Bellator now that they're on SPIKE are carryovers from when the UFC was there. They're essentially UFC fans.
That's great. All of us owe the UFC and SPIKE TV a huge debt of gratitude for that, because they really put the sport on the map. I firmly believe that the winners here are the fans and the fighters, if they were to accept our challenge.
I don't think that they will, though. It's been going on for two days and they have declined to talk about it. I know the reason why they're not going to accept it, and on Thursday, during the WSOF media conference call, I'm going to be making a little announcement, and I'll let everyone know why they won't accept the challenge.
Out of all those fights for the proposed card, I don't see us losing more than one or two, if any. I'm just being real. When I made the challenge, I made it clear that I think they have some great talents there, but the thing is, I don't think they get any kind of exposure. Now is their chance.
Football & MMA
The thing is, you have to learn how to be humble. There's the NFL, then there's college football, and finally, arena football. We're happy to be the college football of MMA. Bellator can be the indoor arena football. There's nothing wrong with that order. A lot of people like indoor arena football. It gives something for everybody. A lot of those guys make it to the big leagues. I'm not putting anybody down. That's just how it is.
The UFC put out the blueprint for everyone to make money. I respect the way the UFC handles their business. They treat their fighters well and they pay their fighters well. Everything that I've learned in this industry, I learned from the UFC ‘school', so to speak. I learned how to be successful in this business from them. From the minute we pick our fighters up from the airport, we have everything lined up. They're picked up, greeted, driven around to the store or wherever they may need to go. We make sure they're on weight and we make sure they have per diem money. I don't know of anyone else that gives the fighters per diem money except for us and the UFC. We have to be professionals to succeed. I don't think there's anything wrong with using the example the UFC has laid out before us to model some of our standards after.
Drug Testing For Overseas Events
We're going to be doing overseas cards soon, and it's very, very important that we go by the rules and regulations. When we go to Brazil, we're going to use the same people the UFC uses. Whoever the UFC uses internationally, we will use the same people. They have a successful model that works.
I'm going to tell you a story about how much the UFC really cares. I have Brian Foster on contract, but I didn't know that they had cut him because something was wrong with his MRI. They reached out to me and said, ‘Can you please make sure this kid is healthy.' To me, this speaks of someone that really cares about the sport.
Brian Foster was going to be on this card, but we pulled him after Marc Ratner called us. I cannot be convinced enough that he will be healthy and can fight safely. I'm not saying we won't give him a chance, but he will have to go through very thorough testing before we can approve him to fight on any of our cards. I know he fought after he was cut by the UFC, because another promotion picked him up and some commissions are easily bypassed, but that won't be us.
People like to say the UFC funds us or we are their feeder league, but that's not the case. If they're doing things right though, how do you not give them credit when it is due?
You can follow Ali via his Twitter account, @AliAbdelaziz00