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Roundtables ROUNDTABLE: Reactions to Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce and the future of the organizations - Pelkey, Park, Marsh, Hobaugh, Hansen, Hyden, Perez, Williams and Penick
Mar 16, 2011 - 2:30:23 PM
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What is your reaction to Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce? How do you seeing this acquisition playing out for both companies?
MATT PELKEY, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
And another one bites the dust. Make no mistake, once Strikeforce's contracts with Showtime run out, the company will be no more, and the fighters the UFC deems UFC-worthy will be melded into their respective weight divisions. Some will debut more pomp and circumstance than others, and the "Strikeforce vs. UFC" aspect will be played up in the beginning to pop buyrates, but within a couple of years Strikeforce will be a distant memory and the UFC will simply have added some nice footage to their video library and vanquished another "brand". Anyone thinking Strikeforce will be kept alive and separate is kidding themselves. Ask WCW, a company with far more history, how this goes.
CHRIS PARK, MMATORCH UK SPECIALIST
This can only be a good thing overall. The UFC will benefit from this for so many reasons by becoming the home of only the elite in MMA. In the long term the very best of Strikeforce will enter the UFC while the UFC has a cushion when wielding the axe of contract terminations.
Fighters such as Joe Stevenson, who has long served the UFC and has quite frankly not been looking too good recently, have somewhere to go. Rather than axeing such a character he can simply continue his contract competing for Strikeforce.
It will give these fighters a competitive arena in which to put a run together against high level competition in order to win back their spot in the UFC.
Another situation has a solution: friends who don't want to fight - with Rashad Evans and Jon Jones being the perfect example. Should Jones win the 205 lb. title this weekend there is now another option for the dilemma these two face.
Evans can move sideways and challenge Dan Henderson for the Strikeforce, strap meaning he and Jones can co-exist while competing for world titles.
The long term will see the UFC trade veterans likes Chieck Kongo and Spencer Fisher for fighters such as Alistair Overeem, Gilbert Melendez and Nick Diaz while a home will be provided for several members of the now overpopulated UFC lightweight division.
GRIFFIN MARSH, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I see this just as it was put. Business as usual. The UFC, not that the gap wasn't wide to begin with, has widened the gap between the top promotion and the second. I haven't seen actual revenue on Bellator but I imagine they become the second largest promotion. As to how the UFC will handle this? I think they'll let strikforce exist as is until the majority of their fighters finish their contracts then I personally believe they shut strikeforce down and aquire the talent. I just don't see strikeforce being used as a 'minor' league for the UFC.
ERIC HOBAUGH, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
My first reaction is this is bad for the sport. There is a reason monopolies are outlawed. Less competition means one powerful product, and WAY less jobs for fighters everywhere. Where are the younger and less experienced fighters going to learn how to fight? I understand Dana White is "building a brand" and his line of helping make the UFC "the fastest growing sport in the world." The UFC is buying all of it's competition, because it can. Several fighters like Nick Diaz, Paul Daley and maybe even the legend Dan Henderson who left for more money in Strikeforce, are now at risk for not being welcomed back in the UFC. I think both companies will run as they are currently being run until all fighter contracts in Strikeforce are honored. It is less expensive to let the fighters fight than it is to buy them out. All the stories about letting Strikeforce be a kind of minor league are not realistic. Dana White will continue to build the UFC. He will let Strikeforce go away like he did with WEC.
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
I don't have a fully formed opinion yet. As of this writing, there's a bit of an information void. Out of nowhere there was a 20 minute press release, I mean hard-hitting interview, by the best independent journalist in the history of the world, and then nothing. To fill the void, every person with an internet connection has taken it upon themselves to tell me what this all means, and exactly how the landscape is going to be changed in the next day, week, month, year, decade...
So since the only thing that I know is that I don't know a damn thing, I'm just going to sit back and see how this whole thing plays out.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
My reaction to the purchase is that it's a great thing short-term. There's no way Zuffa allows Strikeforce to make some of the mistakes that they've made in the past, and are still doing so. That's not to say that the UFC doesn't make mistakes. They've made plenty of mistakes in the past, and will likely continue to do so in the future. However, the UFC doesn't make as many mistakes as Strikeforce does so they should be able to shore up that side of business there.
Thinking long-term, this could be a very good thing or a very bad thing. Competition breeds a better product, and now there's less competition. In an ideal world that wouldn't matter as much, it would be like the NFL with 32 owners all competing for the top spot. If Zuffa allows smart business to prevail, this marks another move that cements MMA in the minds of sports fans. To begin, all the fighters need to be under the same umbrella. That means that everyone needs to be competing under the UFC label. They can use Strikeforce as a AAA affiliate (as Wade Keller proposed) but the ties to the UFC need to be made abundantly clear. If Zuffa allows personal feelings to get involved than it diminishes the impact this purchase has. I think that's what will happen.
Honestly, I think the WEC merger was a much bigger deal for Zuffa than this purchase of Strikeforce. That changed the UFC by adding weight classes. Buying Strikeforce will only add a dozen or so fighters to pre-existing weight classes. It'll strengthen a few divisions and create a few new match-ups, but nothing that changes the game. Alistair Overeem is the biggest name that will be added, and it's possible he never comes in. If you look at his track record, will the UFC put up with that?
ANWAR PEREZ, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
The purchase of Strikeforce is something that will be remembered for a long time to come. If not for the ramifications, surely for the fact that it will continue to play out long after the acquisition and shock has come down. Unlike when World Championship Wrestling and Pride FC were bought out, Strikeforce will continue, only because of their current contracts with Showtime in place. If it were not for that, and even then, things can change, then the UFC would have (and will) undoubtedly fold the organization within itself. Each passing day within the coming weeks will come with new information regarding the future of Strikeforce, and how long it will continue as an organization remains to be seen. Regardless of their contract with Showtime, Zuffa can always sway things their way into the UFC's favor, so anything is possible.
ALEX WILLIAMS, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
First, I recommend Wade's column with regard to how I hope the situation might play out:
I don't believe it will be great for the MMA business. Competition keeps the UFC honest and forces it to play fair with its fans. Without any competitors, it will be tempting for the UFC to give customers less value for their dollars in the pursuit of short-term profit. Eventually, that sort of stuff could catch up with them and hurt their bottom line, but not for a long time.
JAMIE PENICK, MMATORCH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Strikeforce as we know it will go the way of the WEC. The UFC will keep the organization around for now, but it's going to come down to how the UFC's talks with Showtime go. Showtime will need to decide if they can work with the UFC, and if they can come to a long term agreement that gets the UFC onto the premium network then it's possible that Strikeforce sticks around for as long as their contract with Showtime is valid. However, it's possible that Showtime decides they don't want to work with the Zuffa controlled Strikeforce, and that could lead to them trying to get out of the contract earlier than 2012. Either way, the end result is going to be the UFC bringing over the fighters they want on their roster as early as possible. We might see some crossover with UFC guys getting spots on Strikeforce cards while Strikeforce is on Showtime still, but when it comes down to it Strikeforce will eventually be absorbed into the UFC. It's only a matter of time.
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STAFF COLUMNISTS: Shawn Ennis - Jason Amadi
Frank Hyden - Rich Hansen
Chris Park - Matt Pelkey
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