Ever since that Saturday morning when we all were shocked to find out that Zuffa purchased Strikeforce, through a newly formed vehicle named Forza, LLC, there has been constant talk about Strikeforce being shuttered immediately and the relevant fighters absorbed post haste. Well, that's not happening, and it won't for another 3 1/2 years, at the earliest. And here are the different reasons why the brand and its Grand Prix are going to continue to go on without a hitch.
First, let's consider who Forza is. Forza is an owned subsidiary of Zuffa but the funding they received to purchase Strikeforce came partially from their Abu Dhabi partners, Flash Entertainment. Forza has a responsibility to their investors at Flash and it is in all of their best interests to make the entity profitable. On top of that, the company is contracted to SHO until 2014. So, the idea that there will be fighter poaching just doesn't jive. They need that SHO contract to be profitable which means they need to keep putting on entertaining cards with SHO. And that is exactly what they are doing. In fact, Forza is investing not only in the main cards but in the prelims as well. If you look at the Werdum vs Overeem undercard two relatively high profile bouts exist. KJ Noons will face Jorge Masvidal and Amanda Nunes will battle Julie Kedzie. We learn two things here, they are investing in the brand and, second, they are commiting to Women's MMA by having two bouts on this huge card. That is very telling.
Second, the Grand Prix is an excellent way to get Strikeofrce's first PPV on with SHO. Yes, it has been too long since the last HWGP event but the buzz is already building and by the time June 18th comes the MMA world will be lit up for this event. The best thing they can do is pounce and move along the Grand Prix as quickly as possible so no momentum is lost. If the June 18th event delivers, the road will be paved to get the next rounds on PPV and that is something that Forza has already said they want to do. Signed, sealed and delivered.
Third, I get the sense that Lorenzo is having too good a time running the Strikeforce brand. That makes perfect sense. Frank pretty much runs the casino side of their business, Dana pretty much controls all things UFC, Lorenzo has been left in the middle twiddling his thumbs a bit over the years. Suddenly, towards the end of last year, he alone was thrust in the middle of the negotiations to buy Strikeforce. No Frank, no Dana. He was the lone high profile exec to subsequently met with SHO and apparently they are getting along swimmingly. He is also the only Zuffa representative to have a successful negotiation with Fedor and his team. I believe the man has found a new purpose, a venture that essentially is his own. Strikeforce is his thing and I don't see him letting it go very easily, if at all.
Fourth, there is more money to be made by keeping the two brands going. This isn't the WEC or PRIDE purchase. Strikeforce has a real TV deal that they can make money off. Now that Strikeforce has some coin behind them they can market properly and the brand can grow. If the brand and its fighter grow and get more attention those special cards where there might be some cross-promotional matches will be money. And it isn't one and done like many of the PRIDE unification bouts. Strikeforce will continue to grow and pump out new stars to match up against the best of their sister company. That is a wonderful, sustainable business model that we all benefit from. It means more MMA, some of it free if you are a SHO subscriber, and high profile bouts year in and year out. Think about how long the build has been for a GSP/Silva SuperFight and now it might not even pay off. If the Strikeforce brand goes on there will be several Superfights a year. This is what we should all want to see happen. As long as we get a chance to see the best from each brand match up a few times a year, keep Strikeforce alive. We will be treated to consistent, dynamic MMA month after month and the sport will continue to grow in leaps and bounds. The Zuffa brain trust is pretty smart when it comes to this business. Strikeforce isn't going anywhere.