Two things are vastly different in the MMA world than they were just a few months ago. The seeming collapse of both of Japan's major fight promoters -- FEG (K-1 and Dream) and WVR (Sengoku) -- means that no major MMA events have been scheduled thus far this year in Japan.
Secondly, Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the UFC, has purchased Strikeforce, thereby absorbing the only U.S. promoter with a major premium cable TV deal.
That leaves the UFC for the first time in its history with no high-level competitors at the top of the MMA world. Dana White spoke to Sergio Non of USA TODAY -- one of a handful of traditional journalists that has both the knowledge of MMA and the institutional heft to be allowed to ask White fairly tough questions -- and covered a number of topics.
White says he won't be bringing over any Strikeforce stars to the UFC in the near future and his reasoning is very interesting:
Non: But you still wouldn't bring, say, Gilbert Melendez in to fight one of your top guys in UFC?
White: Not until his contract's up.
Non: What if his contract allows it? Scott Coker says there's no contractual impediment to having Strikeforce guys fighting in UFC.
White: I agree, but we have a contract with Showtime. I could see going that way before I could see guys coming this way.
Most interestingly White emphasized that since the collapse of Pride (which he acknowledges as having been the UFC's only real competitor) his competition extends beyond the world of MMA:
Not to mention the fact that I also feel like we compete against other sports leagues. We look at other sports leagues and say, "Ok, we can be this big or bigger. How do we do it? How do we get up every day and work and push the envelope and take it to the next level?"
It's hilarious to me that when all the media and the fans talk about stuff -- when you guys talk about Strikeforce and Affliction and IFL and all these other guys that were out there. Come on, if that's seriously what you guys think is our (freaking) competition, you guys are (freaking) way out of the loop. Way, way, way, way out of the (freaking) loop.
My competition is the NFL. My competition is Major League Baseball. My competition is these other networks.
White is correct that in the marketplace for consumer dollars his competitors are other sporting events -- most especially those putting on Pay Per View events (boxing and pro wrestling) -- but something like the NFL/Direct TV which sells premium cable packages to fans who don't want to miss any games is also a very direct competitor with the UFC.