Paul BuentelloRemember last month when Scott Coker threw this subtle jab at Phil Baroni in the press release announcing his departure from the organization?

“We wish Phil the best of luck and hope he can revive his career. If he can, maybe one day, he can return and fight for us.”

Well check this out. Strikeforce has parted ways with Paul Buentello, but this time the verbal jabs weren’t so subtle.

“We offered Paul a six-figure contract to fight Fedor, but he turned it down,” Coker said. “His decision is understandable considering Fedor’s level of skill but, at the same time, Paul didn’t really fit into our plans. He’s been a solid journeyman fighter and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

Ouch. Naturally, Buentello was less than thrilled with Coker’s comments.

“I’ve never been one to get involved in the politics of the sport,” Buentello wrote to in an e-mail. “I have made as little as $1 to fight the UFC champion and been paid as much as six figures to fight an up-and-coming fighter. I’m not insulted at being regarded as a journeyman fighter either since I started my career as one. Training in my garage with no training partners, I started off with a handful of losses. I always wondered what I could do given the chance to train full time, and through a lot of sacrifices and sponsors that took a shot on me, I’m happy with the result. I’ve lost two times in six years with those loses coming to champions. Am I a gatekeeper or a journeyman? Well, if I’m a gatekeeper, any organization I compete in is going to have a thin heavyweight division. I’ve never claimed to be the best in the sport. But to say I turned down Fedor because of his skill level is a slap in the face.”

First of all, no offense to Paul, but thank god he turned down the opportunity to fight Fedor. A few people at least want to see Fedor-Rogers, no one wanted to see Fedor-Buentello. Seriously, Strikeforce was trying to book that fight?

And what’s up with Coker? Are things not as peachy behind-the-scenes at Strikeforce as they’d like us to believe? I’m not asking solely because of this. There’s still no date for the Fedor-Rogers fight, no one has any idea what’s keeping them from booking Shields-Mayhem. Just a whole lot of nothing coming out of the Strikeforce camp lately.

As for Buentello’s future, he may end up in the same place as Phil Baroni, the UFC. Negotiations are currently underway.

Image via Esther Lin of All Elbows

Update: Josh Gross has an update on the Buentello-Strikeforce story. He brings up the conflict of interest issue with Buentello’s manager Bob Cook also serving as Strikeforce’s matchmaker, but it’s the last sentence in this quote that really caught my attention.

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.

Buentello declined to comment on whether Cook’s actions as an intermediary between the fighter and the promoter put him at a disadvantage. In the end, the “Headhunter” took matters into his own hands to secure his professional freedom. After broke the news on Thursday, Buentello said other fighters called him wondering how he managed to pull it off.

Interesting, so who else wants to get out of their Strikeforce contract?