Wow. I mean... wow.
I'm still trying to comprehend the video Nick Thomas posted this morning of Dana White informing Ariel Helwani that they had purchased Strikeforce. At first I had to question if April1st had somehow arrived early. But no, it was so very true. After a few giddy moments of fantasizing about Overeem vs Cain and a Henderson/Bisping rematch, questions started to arise. Questions that had me wondering if this is a good thing.
* This was obviously a last minute purchase, as evidenced not merely by the fact that Dana states that it was last minute, but also by the fact that there is no press conference. Instead Dana rushes in his favorite court stenographer and relays the information before it gets leaked. Strange. And telling.
* This purchase come in the wake of some very good news for Strikeforce. The Showtime number this year had been stellar, the Grand Prix looked to be a major success. Payperview sales in Japan were much stronger than expected. In fact, Strikeforce looked to have the potential to open a market in that country's now hurting MMA scene. Things were looking good for the promotion that seemed to be making money and whose revenues only seemed to be growing.
So Strikeforce's outlook was rosy. Which brings up some potential reasons for why the UFC would want to purchase them:
- It kills off a potential competitor. Not only were more and more fans purchasing Showtime subscriptions, thus taking potential dollars away from UFC payperviews (albeit probably a small amount in the grand scheme of things) but this also eliminated any potential payperviews from Strikeforce, which is the UFC's bread-and-butter.
- It keeps Strikforce from expanding in to other markets, thus making UFC=MMA in most territories. It also severely cripples any Japanese promotions chances of getting back on track, eliminating any future rival from a market that has a history of major promotions.
- It takes away a potential replacement for the UFC on Spike it they end up jumping ship. Especially a replacement that could seriously benefit from a Spike/UFC rift.
- Most importantly, it takes away a lot of leverage for the top stars during negotiations. No longer can Brock, who reportedly has only two fights left on his contract, threaten to go to Strikeforce, who had proven to be a viable promotion and who could potentially offer payperviews, if the UFC doesn't give him a bigger cut. No longer can fighters of the DIaz, Lawler, and Melendez level use Strikeforce as leverage to negotiate the contracts they received recently. With this purchase Zuffa has managed to keep labor costs where they want them. Low.
The deal is done, And for better or worse, Zuffa owns the sport, body and soul.