By Zach Arnold | August 4, 2011
I thought about transcribing the audio of the two interviews Mauro Ranallo did with Martijn de Jong & Scott Coker yesterday about what happened with Zuffa cutting Golden Glory fighters, but I can largely summarize what was said in a few words. GG said that Scott told them there might be an opening for Alistair to fight in November, Scott says that he can’t get into any details but that ‘I listen to a lot of things,’ and that was that. I will say that you should go out of your way to listen to Scott talk and just how hard he was spinning. The amount of ‘uhs’ and ‘you knows’ reminded me of his interview sessions when he was promoting Strikeforce. Once he sold SF to Zuffa, all of a sudden his interview style changed quite a lit and he was a lot more direct, blunt in his commentary on various issues.
- Fightlinker: Zuffa tells Golden Glory “
The bottom line is this. There are reports that Zuffa wanted to pay Golden Glory fighters directly as opposed to paying the camp the money. (Similar to how M-1 and others like Brazilian Top Team operated in the past.) In the Japanese & world MMA landscape, generally promoters will pay the teams and the teams handle the fighter payouts. There was the legendary story of how Fedor was aligned with RTT (Russian Top Team) and PRIDE had a contract with RTT, which allowed the creation of the Red Devil fight team and hence allowed Fedor to fight outside of the PRIDE ring for New Year’s Eve 2003 for Antonio Inoki. So, I’m not surprised at the moves that UFC made yesterday. The fight teams know that they are operating with MMA’s version of Vince McMahon, so adjust your business practices accordingly.
However, last week I wrote an article that I thought was fairly obvious in laying out a possible reason as to why things went helter skelter between Zuffa and Golden Glory.
I used the phrase ‘elephant in the room’ when describing TRT in relation to Dan Henderson after his win last Saturday over Fedor. Well, I’ll use the elephant phrase this time around for Ishii in relation to Golden Glory. Golden Glory (and Alistair Overeem, in particular) had huge plans for becoming household names in Japan. They had signed a deal with talent agency Yoshimoto and everything seemed on track. Then, Golden Glory abruptly left the K-1 scene and Alistair headed to the States. Golden Glory and Zuffa working together, naturally, seemed like oil and water from the onset. So, it’s no surprise to me that Golden Glory would be interested in getting back into the Japanese scene in a big way. After all, they would likely be the top matchmaker and talent client for Ishii should he be able to get a K-1 revival going again. Alistair being able to do MMA occasionally and kickbox most of the time is what he’s always wanted to do in his career. You can’t change a leopard’s spots and that’s always been the case with both Alistair and Golden Glory.
Zuffa is playing hardball here with Golden Glory and, when I first heard the story, I didn’t blink. They are the monopoly play right now in MMA on a large scale. The only way you do not acquiesce to their deamnds is if you are promoting your own shows or if you have a promoter to work with. The only promoter who possibly down the line could have money or make the kinds of enticing financial promises to convince Golden Glory to stay firm would be Kazuyoshi Ishii (despite Alistair’s reported financial problems with FEG). For Lorenzo Fertitta, cutting off Golden Glory was rather painless for him. He knows that most UFC fans and writers in the media will side with them and turn on the fighters & Golden Glory, so what does he have to worry about?
Finally, if it wasn’t already clear to begin with then it’s clear now that Zuffa is not interested in promoting the ladies on a full-time basis. It’s just not in the cards. At this point, I think Miesha Tate holding up a ring card would have a longer future under the Zuffa banner than her actually performing as a fighter for them. Zuffa views women’s MMA the same way Vince McMahon always viewed ‘legitimate’ women’s pro-wrestlers — with a mixture of disgust, disdain, and disinterest. As for where the landscape is headed for women’s MMA, it’s all about Europe and Asia at this point. I would suspect Europe will be the #1 destination, and that’s not a bad thing. I’d rather see the market for women’s MMA be smaller in exchange for the people involved in growing it actually give a 100% effort in making things right & making things better. UFC half-assing any sort of promotion for women’s MMA will end up being like the way the NBA promotes the WNBA — and that’s not a good comparison.