On June 27, at an Ultimate Chaos event in Mississippi, Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio (1-0) will make his second appearance as a professional mixed-martial-arts fighter.
During a recent press conference for the event, Atencio seemed to hint he wanted to fight UFC President Dana White sometime in the future.
On Friday's edition of MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio), Atencio left no doubts. He's ready to fight White, and he thinks it would be "huge" for both fight executives.
Last week Atencio was part of a press conference to announce his June pay-per-view fight. At one point, the 42-year-old promoter said he's willing to do something the 39-year-old White won't.
"I'm doing something Dana White won't do, and that's fight," Atencio said at the press conference. "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 [White] would fight."
Although these specific comments were unprovoked, the war of words between Atencio and White has been brewing for some time. Once friendly, largely because Affliction was one of the UFC's largest sponsors, the duo's feud began after Affliction was banned from the UFC. According to White, the ban was the result of Affliction's plans to host its own shows, which commenced in mid-2008.
White rarely refers to Atencio by name and jabs at him by calling him the "T-shirt guy," in reference to Affliction's clothing line of high-end (and high-priced) T-shirts.
During Friday's edition of MMAjunkie.com Radio, Atencio threw some fuel on the fire. First, he questioned the legitimacy of a planned (and heavily promoted) boxing match between White and UFC vet Tito Ortiz that was slated to take place in early 2007. Ortiz reportedly made the match a condition of a new UFC contract. However, when the UFC planned to broadcast the event, Ortiz alleged that the UFC was going to give him no cut of the revenue or any assurance the money would be donated to charity.
The entire series of events was eventually packaged as a 90-minute special on Spike TV titled "Bad Blood: Dana White vs. Tito Ortiz." The special focused on White's training for the exhibition bout and his fight to get it approved by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. But Ortiz no-showed the match, and he was portrayed as backing out of the event in the TV special.
"I think the fight that was supposed to be between him and Tito, I don't think that was really ever going to happen," Atencio said. "I think that was just a big publicity stunt."
Pointing to that situation, Atencio had a suggestion for White.
"If he was willing to fight Tito, why wouldn't he be willing to fight me?" Atencio asked.
Atencio isn't promising a victory. But he's willing to fight someone he considers a bully. And despite what's likely a 40-pound difference between the two fight executives, Atencio is ready to roll.
"I?m not saying I could beat the guy, but let's fight," Atencio said. "Let's do it. I mean, I think it would be huge for both of us.
"Sometimes [White] 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."
It's that type of attitude that led Atencio to his June 27 fight with Randy Hedderick, who makes his professional MMA debut at the show, which is headlined by Bobby Lashley vs. Bob Sapp.
Atencio first fought professionally at an early-2005 Total Combat show, where he picked up a decision win over David Martinez, who entered the fight with a 1-0 record.
"I've wanted to do it (again) since I first fought four years ago," Atencio said of his upcoming fight. "It's pretty cool to say I know what these guys actually go through in a fight. ... At least I can say I've done it. At least I can say I did something that not many people in the world say they can."