The UFC has stolen another heavyweight fighter from Strikeforce – no, not one of the exciting ones. Just Paul Buentello, who I suppose I shouldn’t be all that blasé about – he’s a banger and has only lost twice since leaving the UFC. But after one fight a year for the past three years, it’s hard to feel the Buentello train barreling down on the world with much excitement. Here’s the details from Josh Gross on how the UFC headhunted the Headhunter:
When Affliction folded, the UFC purchased the rights to several contracts, and Buentello’s was among them. However, the heavyweight’s deal included a provision allowing Strikeforce the right to promote him. Buentello and Strikeforce went back and forth during contract negotiations, and after much deliberation, the fighter concluded his best chance for security and prosperity would be with the UFC.
Buentello’s decision is easy to understand. Strikeforce appears to be a good fight promotion company with quality backing, but for guys like Buentello, who have signed up for fights only to have the rug pulled out from under them at the most inopportune moments, the UFC provides an opportunity too secure to turn down.
It didn’t help that Buentello was being represented in contract negotiations by Bob Cook, one of his trainers at American Kickboxing Academy who also serves as a matchmaker for Strikeforce. The relationship appears to be a significant conflict, and something Strikeforce should address.
During talks with Strikeforce for a new contract, Buentello confirmed he was offered a chance to fight Fedor Emelianenko. Yet, from his perspective, the money being offered — $100,000 to show, another $50,000 for the win — wasn’t what he expected for the most important and toughest bout of his career.
What kind of crazy alternate reality do we exist in where Paul Buentello is turning down $100,000 fights? I suppose since he was making nearly that in his last two Affliction fights, it didn’t seem like a good deal. I’m not going to freak out too much because whenever a fighter ‘gets his’ I say “good for him”, but holy shit people. I guess this goes to show that the best position to be in right now is one where you’re a heavyweight and Strikeforce wants you. Because if they want you, the UFC wants you, and are willing to outspend Strikeforce to take you away.
(picture by Esther Lin)