UFC buys Strikeforce Mar11

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					                   Breaking News      Zuffa/UFC purchase Strikeforce

In its quest for global domination the UFC have made another bold move by acquiring its main competition in North
America, Strikeforce. Whether its good for the sport only time will tell but the deal is not all plain sailing for fighters
or fans.

Since the watershed moment in 2005 when The Ultimate Fighter made mainstream media more aware of MMA, the
UFC has moved from strength to strength. Lost in the popularity of the sport is how active the UFC have been in
acquiring competitor promotions. Not all the growth so far has been organic.

It started in 2006 with the purchase of the World Extreme Cagefighting organisation and was followed in the same
year by the purchase of the fledgling World Fighting Alliance promotion. The WEC, which concentrated on the lighter
weight classes and had its own TV deal, was left to function as normal, while the WFA roster of fighters was folded
into the UFC bringing the likes of Quinton Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Martin Kampmann into the UFC.

The acquisition of the Japanese promotion Pride Fighting Championship in 2007 was the UFC’s global coming out
party as this move backed up their claims that they were taking MMA as a sport to global dominance.

What happened with the WEC and Pride is a preview to what Strikeforce can expect. In a 20 minute interview when
the news was announced UFC president Dana White repeatedly stated that Scott Coker would continue to run
Strikeforce as he has been running it, which is what we would have heard about the WEC and Pride. Claiming the
UFC was more about the heavier weight classes and saying the Pride title belts would still stand as legitimate titles
within the UFC we now know were merely identifying the road blocks before ultimately removing them.

In the same interview as he endorsed Coker, White also said there would be no co-promoted events between
Strikeforce and the UFC and there would be no super-fights between the respective promotions champions. All this
sounds familiar and in reality we know how it will play out as Strikeforce will have its talent folded into the UFC ranks
(no need for co-promotion) and once this occurs, cue the super-fight to unify any belts (as occured with the Pride
titles and will happen with Anthony Pettis and the winner of Maynard/Edgar 2)

This deal has some serious pluses for the sport of MMA and for the UFC brand. Strikeforce currently have a network
television deal with CBS and Showtime allowing their events broadcast on mainstream US TV. It also allows the UFC
continue on its aggressive global expansion path using Strikeforce’s ties with Japan. It also makes Strikeforce a
legitimate destination for unsigned talent as the promotions future, in whatever form it may take, is secure now. It
also provides an avenue for fighters looking to make it back to the UFC without the drudgery of touring the smaller
local show circuit.

On the downside a monopoly in any market is not good. The UFC is effectively that in MMA. Fighter salaries will be
based on what the UFC/Strikeforce thinks your worth as there are no other promotions that can offer the big money
pay days or bring legitimate competition for talent. In the past the likes of Dan Henderson left the UFC to sign for
Strikeforce when money became an issue. This will no longer be an option. Also, in addition to Hendo the likes of
Paul Daly, Josh Barnett and Fedor Emelianenko may struggle to get into the big show as they all have some previous
with the UFC’s main man, White.

It’s easy to be critical of the UFC when they are the trail blazers for the sport. But it’s important to acknowledge they
are taking MMA where all other promotion in the world cannot, into the mainstream consciousness. It may be
premature to criticise the promotions monopoly status when they’ve been using it to the good for MMA so far.
Given the fate that has fallen previous promotions that shot for the stars – International Fight League, Elite XC,
Afflication – it’s better to have one viable, quality promotion than many struggling, inconsistent shows for all
concerned.

Fergus Ryan, March 2011

				
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