The news broke today and the MMA world immediately had a collective brain melt when they read "Zuffa Purchases Strikeforce". Twitters blew up, text flew chaotically, and forum posters fingers trembled as they attempted to get the word out. The news apparently so massive that my mother picked up the phone to give me a call to ask what this will mean for the great sport of mixed martial arts. To be honest, I didn't even know she was a fan.
The move announced today by Zuffa is single-handedly the biggest news for stateside MMA history. Where the UFC has long flexed its dominance over all comers, Strikeforce had managed to quietly establish themselves as the number two promotion in the ever growing sport of mixed martial arts. Where UFC President Dana White had flashed his claws and placed vendettas on aspiring promotions in the past, he would rarely throw a nudge or an elbow in the direction of the San Jose-based Strikeforce. White has always claimed to have a solid relationship with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker and now we will get to see just how friendly the two can be. The question on everyone's mind is "what does this mean?" and while the fan in me wishes the same, it will be a good bit before we see the outcome of the purchase.
In his interview with MMAFighting.com, Dana White repeats the phrase, "It's literally business as usual. Strikeforce fighters will remain Strikeforce fighters and Scott Coker does a great job with the promotion and we have signed a deal with Scott to keep him in place."
As it currently stands Zuffa has deals with Spike TV and the Versus network, and while it has been rumored that the UFC would look to move to a paid subscription feature network like HBO, thus far those deals have not materialized. With Strikeforce having a solid relationship with Showtime, Zuffa will now have a foothold in the paid subscriptions market and while White stated it would be "business as usual" and that "nothing will change," he did mention that there are "tweeks" that can be made to make the Strikeforce program more in line to the quality presentation that the UFC is known for.
"Believe me the last thing Showtime wants to see is me showing up on their doorstep. There are a lot of guys on that side of the table that don't like me. You have M-1 Global, Dan Henderson probably doesn't like me too much but that is Scott Coker's relationship to uphold," White stated.
One of the biggest factors on the minds of MMA fans is the potential for dream matchups between the best fighters on both rosters. White was also quick to put out those fires as well.
"There will be no superfights. When I say business as usual - we don't co-promote, even when we own the company."
Dana White has had very public beefs with several past UFC fighters that now fall under the Strikeforce banner such as Josh Barnett, light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson and Paul "Semtex" Daley, who was bounced from the UFC after a threw a post fight cheap shot at welterweight Josh Koscheck. White addressed the issue but remained rock solid on the issue with Paul Daley.
"Paul Daley will never fight for the UFC. Period. As for Josh Barnett he has a deal with Scott Coker and his contract will be honored. As I said, business as usual."
As the internet continues to buzz and twitter reactions continue to pour in from fans and fighters alike, there is no doubt that this announcement will change the current landscape of MMA as we know it. The official UFC Twitter just tweeted about ticket sales for Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley on April 9th and as I double take to make sure I'm still reading everything correctly, it will be a good while before I can completely wrap my mind around it.