I must admit that when I read the news about Zuffa's acquisition of Strikeforce today, I double checked the date to make sure it wasn't another one of the UFC's little practical jokes. I made quite a tool of myself one year when I read the UFC was going to help build a stadium in Russia to accommodate M-1 Global.
Suprisingly though, the news was true and the proverbial shit hit the fan. Well that's what everyone thought but Dana White would have us believe that it is "business as usual". While that may be the case for the immediate future as contracts get fulfilled and relationships strengthened, things are going to get very interesting at the end of that little period.
Even with the "UFC presents" moniker slapped in front of the Strikeforce name on Showtime, there still isn't going to be a massive boost in ratings and awareness for the company. Because of this, the premiere fighters in Strikeforce are of course going to want to seek greener pastures in the UFC where the money is larger and the fame is greater.
This is why I think that once Strikeforce's stars leave for the UFC we will see Strikeforce re-branded and re-packaged as a fully fledged feeder league for the UFC.
The idea of a feeder league for the UFC has always been one I have embraced. Giving up and coming fighters time to groom their games for the big show while giving senior fighters and UFC veterans a place to bounce back and work their way back up the ladder would be a big plus for the UFC.
An influx of new talent has always been needed in the UFC to either keep the rosters fresh or to find the next big thing. There has, however, been a lot of instances in the past where because of this, prospects have been rushed to the UFC (Jake Rosholt for instance) because there was a fear that they would be picked up and locked up by one of the other promotions. Because these fighters were picked before they were ripe they found themselves out of their depth and were quickly bounced.
Some might say that the Ultimate Fighter already acts as a UFC feeder system, but more often than not the winner of the show (Amir Sadollah, Jonathan Brookins) or the promising prospects that come out of the show (Matt Riddle, Corey Hill etc.) still aren't UFC calibre. This doesn't mean much to the public who buy the pay-per-views because they expect to see all the fighters in competitive matches and want to see the TUF winners thrown to the wolves as soon as possible.
To me this is why I think a fully branded UFC feeder system would be very beneficial to the UFC as it would give a place for all these fighters to work their way up with the prospect of a shot on a pay-per-view card as the show's equivalent of a title shot. I'm sure there's a Pro Wrestling equivalent here but I refuse to be the one that mentions it.
Sure, the shows wouldn't match the premiere UFC shows for ratings but they sure as hell would beat the numbers Strikeforce were getting for their equivalent Challenger shows and most probably their bigger shows as well.
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