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Dana White and Tom Atencio: Fightin’ Words!

There’s no real mystery to the boiling feud that has been brewing between the largest fighting organization in the world and one of the most successful MMA apparel companies in the business. Sure, they used to be good, but that was back in the days when Affliction was one of the UFC‘s biggest sponsors and way before the fight clothing giant announced their intentions to promote mixed martial arts events under their label in the future.

An instant ban was the UFC’s response upon catching wind of the clothing label’s plan to enter into the business of promoting fights. Makes no sense in helping to draw attention to the competition from a business standpoint.

The UFC wouldn’t be where they are today, or should I say if the Fertitta brothers and Dana White wouldn’t have taken the organization from the brink of bankruptcy to make it the mega-company it is today, if they weren’t a competitive bunch. That’s just not how it works.

Self made businessmen like the Fertitta brothers and Dana White get to positions of success and power by being more than just competitive, more than just determined or driven, or even just passionate. In all honesty, the formula for success includes some of all of those previously mentioned traits, but to build the type of empire that the UFC has, and to not just maintain it, but enable it to grow during times like these, one would have to be more than just competitive. One would have to be a downright cut-throat blood-thirsty tycoon to the job done in this day and age.

Big dog eat little dog, it’s the way of the world and it’s worked just fine up to this point for the largest and most recognized fighting promotion on the planet.

They have shown time and time again that they will go through great lengths to take the focus away from any competing promotion’s PPV numbers by running special UFC events at the same time as their competitors in an attempt to draw attention away from their rivals. From EliteXC in the past, Affliction and most recently Strikeforce, if you’re planning on putting on an event worth watching you had better plan on competing with a UFC re-run on Spike TV featuring someone like Brock Lesnar, or perhaps the infamous GSP/B.J. Penn greasing event? That should do the trick. Although the counter programing events aired on Spike TV are far from the final nail in the coffin for any of these promotions, it sure doesn’t help matters.

That’s why many in the mixed martial arts community were reeling from early reports that Affliction was possibly planning to give the UFC a taste of their own medicine by doing a little counter programming of their own. If you’re going to try to pull off something as courageous as trying to counter the UFC at all, you may as well do it like you mean it and go all in with it. UFC 100 was supposed to be one of the most grand in the organization’s long running history, and that was just the event that Affliction was being reported as planning to run their next event side by side with.

When‘s Sam Caplan contacted Dana White on March 22 regarding reports of Affliction possibly trying to counter program UFC 100, the UFC’s outspoken and sometimes controversial president responded to the rumors in a way that only he could.

“How do I feel about them trying to counter-program UFC 100?,” White was quoted as saying. “I love it. I ******* love it. I love it. I don’t like these guys and I want to see them spend more of their t-shirt money. What they should be worrying about is — they’ve already seen first hand that nobody gives a **** about Affliction MMA — what they need to starting worrying about is nobody wants to wear their goofy ******* clothes anymore either. The fad is over and they better start saving as much of that t-shirt money as they can.”

“I don’t like these guys”, “nobody gives a **** about Affliction MMA”, “Nobody wants to wear their goofy ****** clothes anymore”, can you say ‘fightin’ words’? Maybe not fightin’ words, I’ll admit, but strong, harsh, brutal words never the less.

Tom Atencio, no stranger to mixed martial arts with a record of 1-0, stepped up the trash talk a notch at a recent press conference for the “Ultimate Chaos” event scheduled for June 27 where the Affliction VP is set to face off with welterweight Randy Hedderick. He basically stopped just short of challenging his rival to a full on cage match.

“I’m doing something Dana White won’t do and that’s fight,” Atencio took it upon himself to point out. “He talks like a fighter, so why doesn’t he fight? I’m stepping up to the plate and win, lose or draw I attempted it. I don’t ever think he would fight.”

Atencio took it a step further in a recent interview with the boys from Radio where he made it a point to make sure that everyone remembered the infamous “Bad Blood: Dana White vs. Tito Ortiz” 90 minute special that ran on Spike TV in early 2007.

You guys remember the show, the one they advertised endlessly? The one where Tito and Dana were supposed to settle their long lasting differences in an exhibition boxing match? The special that lasted an hour and a half and they talked about how the two were going to duke it out before telling us that it wasn’t going to happen at the end? Yep, that’s the one. The same show that made me chuck my brand new universal remote at my brick wall causing it to explode into a thousand tiny plastic pieces and curse the UFC for wasting an hour and a half of my life.

He just had to bring it up, right when I was beginning to erase the memory from my head.

“I think the fight that was supposed to be between him and Tito, I don’t think that was really ever going to happen,” said Atencio. “I think that was just a big publicity stunt.”

Atencio just can’t seem to figure out why White would have any problem stepping into a cage with him being that the UFC head honcho was willing to put it on the line against a fighter of Tito’s caliber in the past.

“He used to be a boxing trainer or coach, so if he was willing to fight Tito, why wouldn’t he be willing to fight me?,” the Affliction VP was quoted as asking.

Not that White wouldn’t step up to the plate to answer Atencio’s challenge, or that Atencio feels like he could walk through White in an MMA match, but the Affliction move-maker is prepared to let the chips fall where they may.

“I’m not saying I could beat the guy, but let’s fight,” admitted Atencio. “Let’s do it. I mean, I think it would be huge for both of us.

“Sometimes he just comes off as a tough guy, and I think if you’re tough, then be tough. If you’re not, then that’s cool. And I’m not saying I’m tough at all. I’m just saying at least I’m willing to step in the ring. I’ll do it.If I embarrass myself, oh well, I embarrass myself. At least I can say that I did it.”

I can’t think of a single mixed martial arts fan that wouldn’t cough up some of their hard earned dough to watch these two MMA big wigs try to tear each other apart limb from limb. The grudge is a real one, and although White is under no kind of obligation to accept the challenge put forth from Atencio, would it really come as that much of a shock if he did?

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