e mërkurë, 13 qershor 2007


You don't f--- with Dana "it's good to be" White. You just don't. He's scorched earth. Crossing Dana White is like dangling a plump baby dipped in gravy in front of a rabid pitbull - you just do not mix the two unless you want a bloody massacre on your hands.

Perhaps that's why Bodog CEO and billionaire entrepreneur Calvin Ayre is choosing his words very very carefully when talking about Mr. White. Dana calls Calvin a criminal and Ayre responds by referring to Dana as "his friend" and a "very talented guy" - even going so far as to say that he wishes he could be like Dana.

If you listen closely, however, it becomes pretty clear that Calvin is coyly taking snipes at Dana - just in an indirect way. Calvin "thanks" Dana for his assistance in removing Pride as competition and making Bodog "the #2 [mma organization] in the world". He also is quick to point out that Dana White's style, and likewise, the style of the UFC, is one which caters to the American audience, but would fail in Asia due to its lack of "respect" and "honor". And it is this subtle and seemingly benign comment that may actually hold the key to Calvin's strategy to make a dent in the impenetrable fortress of the Zuffa empire.

It has been almost 3 months since we first learned that the UFC was purchasing Pride, and at the time, the buyout appeared to secure Zuffa's pathway to inevitable worldwide domination. But the last Pride show was back in February and we still haven't heard a peep of when the next event is set to occur (and at the same time it seems like there is a Zuffa based event happening on TV nearly every day). Then there are the reports of contracted Pride fighters launching a class action lawsuit, seeking to be released from their obligations to the new ownership of Pride. And now, the UFC appears to be raiding Pride's stable of most of its top talent, which doesn't seem to jive with Dana's stated plan to sustain Pride as a rival mma superpower.

In the meantime, Calvin lured away the best heavyweight fighter in the world, and now it looks like he may lure away one of the best middleweight fighters in the world in Dennis "Super (half) Korean" Kang - both posterboys of former Pride glory. Bodog has also enlisted the services of Japanese legend Yuki Kondo. Incidentally, the heavyweight and middleweight divisions are the weakest divisions in the UFC, so these missed opportunities couldn't be considered a negligible loss for Zuffa.

Is Calvin Ayre attempting to make a move in Asia by filling the huge void left by Zuffa's buyout of Pride in Japan? At this point, we can't be sure. What we do know is that Cavlin is playing it smart. He hasn't launched a full frontal assault against Zuffa, but instead, he's decided to dance, sidestep and flick out a couple of jabs. Is he biding his time for a huge haymaker? And will it be enough? Only time will tell. Calvin certainly has the arsenal to go toe to toe with the Fertitta brothers, but is he willing to pull the trigger? Stay tuned and we will keep track of this saga as it unfolds.

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