UFC acquires Strikeforce: Numbers, Insights, (hint, HEAVYWEIGHTS)

I was discussing MMA with a friend last night and we were talking about the bevy of important fights for the lightweight division recently announced.  (GSot/Dunham, Guillard/Roller & Silver/Wiman)  With all of the fights taking place at UFC 132, I mused that the UFC has the makings of the first round of an  8 man LW tourney at the event.  This led us to the merger and the disconnect between Dana White recently stating that he wanted to cut each division down to 28 fighters and his press conference claim that "we need more fighters".  Dana saying one thing and later saying the exact opposite is not anything new; MMA media and hardcore fans don't describe some of his commentary as "White noise" simply because it has his last name.  But we figured there had to be something more to it than that and we set about crunching some numbers.  And what we found was pretty telling, at least to me:

The UFC needs more heavyweights.


According to, there are 213 guys currently fighting for the organization in the five divisions that they and Strikeforce both promote.  Broken down, it looks like this:

Division           Number of Fighters         Percentage of company
Heavyweight:                25                                           12%
Light Heavy:                  37                                           17%
Middleweight:               45                                           21%
Welterweight:               49                                           23%
Lightweight:                  54                                           25%

In comparison, via, there are 80 fighters with that organization

Division           Number of Fighters         Percentage of company
Heavyweight:                17                                           21%
Light Heavy:                  12                                           15%
Middleweight:               18                                           22%
Welterweight:               16                                           20%
Lightweight:                  17                                           21%

And finally, merging the two organizations under the Zuffa umbrella, we have the following breakdown:

Division           Number of Fighters         Percentage of company
Heavyweight:                42                                           14%
Light Heavy:                  49                                           17%
Middleweight:               63                                           21%
Welterweight:               65                                           22%
Lightweight:                  71                                           24%

What jumps out at me is the change in percentages in each division.  There is no change in percentage in the LHW and MW divisions, the LW and WW divisions drop by 1% each, while the HW division has grown by 2%.  I know that those percentages sound small, but here is another way of looking at it.  Each division grew by roughly 35%, except for Heavyweight, which grew by just under 70%.

Taking it one step further, we looked at the February 24th USAToday consensus rankings to see just how many top guys were coming over to the UFC.  Prior to the merger, the UFC had 37 of the top 50 guys (division by division top 10s), while Strikeforce had 12.  This means the UFC now has 49 of the top 50, leaving Eddie Alvarez as the lone big fish in an increasingly smaller pond.  Breaking it down by division, the UFC acquired four top 10 HWs, one top 10 LHW, two top 10s in both the MW and WW and, interestingly enough, three top 10 LWs.

In every division but heavyweight, there was no argument that the best competition in the world was to be found in the UFC.  But in the heavyweight division, not only was there a good argument but it was indisputable:  The best heavyweights in the world did not belong to one organization, they were split between two.  When you extended the rankings to include the top 15, seven of them were Strikeforce fighters.  This had to be irksome White.  Before every UFC heavyweight title fight you will invariably hear Dana White say in some promo or another, "At the end of the day, what really means something, is to be the baddest man on the planet".

Now when he says that he can be sure that he's right and you can be sure that the main reason Zuffa went ahead and bought their biggest rival was not because they needed more fighters, but because, like every other division in Mixed Martial Arts, the top heavyweights in the world fight need to fight in an Octagon and nowhere else.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bloody Elbow

You must be a member of Bloody Elbow to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bloody Elbow. You should read them.

Join Bloody Elbow

You must be a member of Bloody Elbow to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bloody Elbow. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.