Another Perspective on Strikeforce vs the UFC


Michael David Smith replies to my comments last night that Strikeforce is putting on shows comparable to the UFC's recent offerings He concedes my point that Strikeforce: Evolution and their January show are better cards than UFC 108 and 109 but raises some important counterpoints:

...we shouldn't carry this too far: Strikeforce doesn't have anywhere near the roster depth that the UFC does, and with the exception of Fedor Emelianenko, you're not going to see the truly elite, Top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world on Strikeforce shows.

In general, even if the entertainment value of the fights is better on a Strikeforce card, the quality of the fighters is going to be better in the Octagon. Melendez and Thomson gave us a more entertaining fight than B.J. Penn's beatdown of Diego Sanchez, but Melendez and Thomson are nowhere near as good as Penn. (In my opinion they're not as good as Sanchez, either.)

It should also be pointed out that the UFC gives fans a lot more fights than Strikeforce does: For UFC 108, the UFC will give fans two live fights on Spike, five live fights on pay-per-view and probably a couple of tape delayed fights mixed in there as well. If you watched Showtime on Saturday night, you only got four fights.

And in the spring, with Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida all likely to defend their UFC titles, it'll be almost impossible for Strikeforce to keep up with the UFC. In MMA, there's still a big gap between the UFC and everyone else.

This is very true. One thing that has been consistently misunderstood about my comments on the business aspects of Zuffa vs the world is that I'm not saying Zuffa is losing or falling behind. No, what I'm saying is that after the collapse of Afflction, Zuffa was very very close to OWNING the market for MMA in the U.S. and having incredible market dominance world-wide.

Had Dana White managed to sign Fedor Emelianenko the UFC would have had the dominant champion in ALL SEVEN major divisions of men's MMA. Once they had the no-doubt best fighters in the business in all the major divisions, then it's just a matter of maintaining the linear championships in the organization (ie don't let a champion leave undefeated) and ergo they ARE major league MMA, the way the NFL IS major league football.

But that moment slipped through their grasp. As apparently did the network deal that Dana White was supposedly on the verge of announcing right around that time.

Once Strikeforce and M-1 struck their unholy alliance, other players quickly joined their confederation: CBS/Showtime, K-1/DREAM, EA Games and competition in the major leagues of MMA continued.

The Comcast purchase of NBC has created some new opportunities for the UFC because of their pre-existing relationship with Versus. They've already announced they'll be putting a few UFC cards on the Versus network next year -- a huge boost for what had been a struggling cable channel. If Versus becomes the masthead of NBC Sports, the UFC could be in excellent position to compete head to head with Strikeforce on network television -- NBC/Versus/Spike against CBS/Showtime.

Zuffa is still far ahead, has much deeper pockets, a much deeper roster, an almost infinitely more committed fanbase and they're the odds on favorite to eventually establish themselves as the sole player at the top of the MMA heap, but they're not there yet.

And as we saw last night in Cung Le vs Scott Smith, sometimes you can be winning the fight handily until well into the late rounds and still lose.

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