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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Dave Meltzer dropped a bomb on MMA fans during his most recent radio show at WrestlingObserver.com, revealing that several Strikeforce fighters are barred from signing with the UFC while Showtime broadcasts MMA, a revelation that led to quite a bit of reaction online on Sunday.
Meltzer took to the forums on his site (via Brent Brookhouse at BloodyElbow.com) to clarify some of what he said on the radio show, with a little more detail on the situation, which you can see below:
"No, I said as long as Zuffa and Showtime have a deal, they can't fight on a UFC show unless Showtime gives the okay. It's in the Zuffa/Showtime contract. It doesn't matter when the fighters contract with Zuffa expires, they can't have their Strikeforce contract expire and sign with UFC. It's a Zuffa contract with Showtime that has to expire...
I was told by one of the fighters who got it straight from Stephen Espinosa that certain guys are Showtime fighters as long as the Zuffa/Showtime contract is in effect. The fighter was a main guy on a list agreed to be Showtime and Zuffa when the new deal went down and the agreement was all fighters on the list are Showtime fighters as long as they are under contract to Zuffa and as long as Showtime airs Strikeforce.
Zuffa and Showtime can sign a new contract that changes the stips between Zuffa and Showtime now or when this deal expires, but he was told he can't transfer to UFC as long as the current deal is in place and could not fight on a UFC card unless Showtime gives the okay.
The fighter was told by Espinosa that in specifics because they insisted on the deal after what happened with Dan Henderson where his Strikeforce contract expired and they signed him to a new deal but brought him to UFC at a time when nobody knew the future of Strikeforce. This stip was insisted on by Showtime so something like that couldn't happen with their however many exclusive stars."
Penick's Analysis: This is why Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal signed a new deal with Strikeforce earlier this year (prior to his release due to a failed steroid test), and responded to critics that he had no choice but to re-sign with Strikeforce. So essentially, it's not quite as bad as it sounded when Meltzer revealed things on the radio show initially. The current deal, if I remember correctly, expires at the end of this year, though there are extensions possible. If the deal expires with no extension, and should the UFC decide to fold Strikeforce at that time, it's certainly possible that these stipulations are then no longer in place. What this does now is allow Showtime to keep featuring certain fighters while this current deal is in place so more aren't brought over like Henderson and Diaz were last year. It's massively unfortunate for the fighters on Showtime's list who would like to have the option of progressing in their careers - Gilbert Melendez chief among them - but it's not quite as bad a situation as it looked earlier today.
Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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