Former two division UFC champion Randy Couture was on Spike TV's MMA Uncensored last night and since his son Ryan Couture is active in Strikeforce's Lightweight division, the subject of Strikeforce's future came up. Couture didn't pull any punches in his reply (transcribed by MMA Mania):
"Yeah, there are some questions there. I know the Showtime relationship with Zuffa has been rocky. I know they hoped to renew that relationship and build that relationship, but they weren't able to pull that off. I think you're gonna see the Strikeforce guys absorbed and plucked like they did the WEC. So, then the question is, is Ryan gonna be one of those guys they want to keep, or is he gonna be one of those guys that gets cut loose? Where are we gonna go with him? The Showtime contract's up this year, so early next year, I think you'll see something happen."
It's no secret that the Showtime-UFC relationship is a rocky one and that despite stated good intentions from both sides when the UFC's ownership team first bought Strikeforce in early 2011, things have been pretty rocky. First the UFC managed to have a series of "contract disputes" with all of Strikeforce's biggest stars that just happened to end with Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem and Nick Diaz all jumping to the UFC and Fedor Emelianenko heading back to Russia to finish up his career.
Showtime responded by requiring the UFC to promise not to poach any more SF fighters, even if their SF contracts expired. This had the pernicious outcome of trapping the remaining Strikeforce fighters in a nasty limbo. The next plan was to try to persuade a few UFC stars to make guest appearances on SF. Frank Mir was scheduled to face SF champ Daniel Cormier on November 3 but got hurt and when Zuffa couldn't come up with an alternate, Showtime pulled the plug. That marked the second straight SF event to be cancelled within a month.