10 Questions in Wake of Zuffa’s Purchase of Strikeforce

There are tons of questions and tons of unknowns in wake of the Zuffa purchase of Strikeforce.  We look at 10 of those questions and try to settle them.

10. What is the impact on THQ and EA Sports?

Currently the UFC has a deal with THQ for a video game.  Strikeforce fighters are featured in EA sports MMA game.  The UFC has been very happy with THQ and very vocally not happy with EA sports.  Here is the question, will we see the Strikeforce guys in the UFC game?  The answer is…not yet.  That won’t happen until/unless Strikeforce totally folds into the UFC.  We may see certain fighters move to the UFC and they could appear in the game.  On the bright side…I expect the featherweights and bantamweights to appear in the game.

9. What changes will fans see in Strikeforce’s production?

Dana White was asked this question and he essentially dodged the question.  He did say that some of the impact of the acquisition could be in the behind the scenes stuff.  Strikeforce is a different predict than the UFC and their production is much different.  Currently, Showtime oversees the production, but some improvements are needed.  I would suggest that some improvements are really needed with the announcing team or Mauro Ranallo, Frank Shamrock and Pat Miletich.  The UFC’s relationship with Shamrock and Miletich is contentious and I am sure Dana would love to fire them.  However, firing them is not just personal it would be better for production.  I’d like to see Todd Harris and Kenny Florian in there. I’d like to see Jimmy Lennon, Jr. stay.  Again, this may be Showtime’s call, but eventually UFC will have a say and I look for some changes.

8.  What level of accountability will Scott Coker have to Dana White?

Dana White repeated that things will be “business as usual”.  He seems to be giving Scott Coker a lot of responsibility.  He will continue to make deals.  He will continue to work with Showtime.  He will continue to sign fighters.  He will continue to promote.  However, I think he will be like Reed Harris at the WEC.  Coker will have tons of influence, but ultimately the Zuffa brass has veto power.

7. What impact will this have of the free agent market?

This remains unclear.  Some fear that this merger will cause a money problem.  Managers fear that with a lack of competition Zuffa will now offer guys less money because less will still be more than anyone else is offering.  This may be true.  However, I think more Zuffa fight cards will allow for more prospects.  I think we will see both UFC and Strikeforce sign prospects and develop them.  I think the draw to fighters will now be even stronger to come fight for Zuffa.

6.  What new promotions will emerge?

Fight promotions come and go.  We have seen tons of them.  Only the UFC has endured the tests of time.  PRIDE, EliteXC, and IFL were all at one time hailed as “UFC competitors.”  Strikeforce is still around and will compete in a sense, but profit wise they are no longer competition.  A new promotion will emerge in North America and probably even in Japan.  They will sign some guys.  There are already reputable promotions that have a solid foundation.  Bellator appears to be the best established, MFC, Shark Fights, Titan FC all have good talent as well as big aspirations.  BAMMA in the U.K. has big hopes.  My guess is that ProElite re-emerges  They were reportedly a player to buy Strikeforce.  I look for them to start something and become a number 2…distant number 2.

5. Will we see Strikeforce go international?

Eventually.  There is a growi9ng frustration with some fanbases around the world with UFC not bringing shows as often as they want.  U.K. fans feel cheated with a lack of a live show.  Ireland and Scotland want shows.  Germany, Australia, United Arab Emirates, India, China, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Sweden, and France have all been talked about.  The bottom line is the UFC cannot go everywhere.  I think we may see Strikeforce head to some of those places as well.  The more logical guess would be that after Strikeforce is absorbed into the UFC we could see shows way more often even two in a week.

4. How will the relationship with Showtime change under Zuffa?

Dana White has been very critical of Showtime and Ken Hershman.  He thinks that Showtime has too much power to dictate what Strikeforce does.  He is right too.  I am sure there are mutual feelings of dislike.  However, as Dana White said Scott Coker can work with Showtime and so could Lorenzo.  There does remain a possibility that Showtime will not want to work with Zuffa.  However, Strikeforce has a contract in place with Showtime.  Once that contract expires I doubt it is renewed.

3. What will become of women’s MMA?

Dana White has said he will never promote women’s fights in the UFC.  However, Strikeforce has women’s divisions.  His reason is not because he is against it, but because he doesn’t feel there are enough good women fighters to create a division.  He may be right about that too.  For the meantime, Strikeforce will continue to promote and sign women fighters.  However, eventually they may get the axe if Strikeforce is absorbed totally by the UFC.  Don’t lose hope though I promise another promotion will emerge promoting woman’s divisions.  Bellator already has one.  As long as there are marketable woman fighters there will be a place for them to fight.

2. How long will Strikeforce run as a separate entity?

This is one of the big questions.  No one knows.  I guess it depends on numerous variables.  The primary variable is the Showtime contract.  I expect Strikeforce to be around for a while.  I’d rather them just totally absorb them immediately to eliminate confusion and speculation.

I think that the way the UFC handled WEC is a good model to follow if you want to see what will happen.  We could see weaker divisions be absorbed by the UFC like they did with the WEC.  Here is my problem with keeping both operational: When the UFC ran WEC they billed it that the UFC focused on 155 and up and the WEC focused on 155 and below, that worked for fans.  Now we will see two promotions in operation owned by the same parent company.  I believe the clamoring for super fights will be too much and the pressure will force a merge.

1. When will we see Strikeforce guys fight UFC guys?

let’s face it this is what we want to know.  I cannot tell you how many Twitter posts and articles I saw Saturday and Sunday hyping potential super fights.  The thought of Overeem, Diaz, Melendez and others finally testing themselves against the UFC guys is appealing.  We could possibly eliminate a lot of the subjectivity in the rankings with a merger.

I am not sure what UFC’s plans and timing are, but the other barrier is contracts.  I am not sure what the Strikeforce fighters contracts say.  We could see some of their contracts expire and then them be signed to the UFC.  I believe some contracts are transferable, but I am not sure that is what the UFC wants.  I think its possible for some UFC guys to move to Strikeforce.  I am not so naive as to think that Zuffa values the Strikeforce name as much as the UFC name.  They will see dollar signs with a possible Overeem vs. Lesnar/Carwin fight.  Eventually, a totally merge will happen.  Mark my words, but not yet.

 

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