Time flies in MMA, and it's hard to believe that the biggest news story of March 12th, 2011 was that Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, effectively bought off their largest competitor by purchasing Strikeforce. UFC president Dana White announced the deal to MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, and the MMA blogosphere blew up with speculation about what it meant. Dana created a catchphrase that day, "business as usual", which people still dig out of mothballs to throw in Whte's face whenever Strikeforce doesn't live up to their expectations. So what has happened over the last year since the purchase? Let's take a trip down memory lane.
March 12th, 2011 - The announcement. While the exact numbers weren't confirmed, the purchase price was around 40 million dollars with some of that going to debt repayment. Scott Coker's partner, Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment, was focused on bringing another pro sports team to San Jose and wanted out of the MMA business. Coker stayed on as GM of Strikeforce, but was now a Zuffa employee. I wrote an angry article about it over at HKL.
April 1st - The first SF card under Zuffa ownership went down in Stockton. It was a Challengers card.
April 8th - Strikeforce GM Scott Coker thought the organization would have it's first pay-per-view event by July.
April 9th - The first major Strikeforce card under Zuffa saw Nick Diaz defend his Strikeforce welterweight title against Paul Daley in one of the best fights of 2011. Coker talked about Strikeforce-UFC crossover fights "within a year".
May 18th - Zuffa completed their takeover and laid off most Strikeforce employees, putting former WEC employees in charge of the company.
June 1st - Nick Diaz blows "business as usual" out of the water and moves over to the UFC to challenge Georges St. Pierre for the UFC welterweight title. Obviously, this still hasn't happened yet.
June 9th - Diaz officially vacates his Strikeforce welterweight title. To date, it remains vacant.
July 30th - Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson headlined a Strikeforce event in suburban Chicago. Henderson won. In addition, Alistair Overeem was released by the organization after apparently refusing to accept a booking due to injuries. Within days, he was snapped up by the UFC.
August 4th - Emelianenko was released by Strikeforce.
August 12th - Ronda Rousey made her Strikeforce debut.
September 10th - Luke Rockhold won the Strikeforce middleweight title from Ronaldo Souza. Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier (Overeem's replacement) advanced to the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix finals.
September 19th - Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson signs with the UFC and vacates his belt. The belt is still vacant as of today.
October 13th - Ken Hershman leaves Showtime, the channel that Strikeforce is aired on. Showtime held an option to renew Strikeforce's TV contract in early 2012 at the time, and Hershman's departure was viewed by some as the final nail in the coffin for Strikeforce on the network.
November 18th - Strikeforce holds their last Challengers card to date.
December 15th - Strikeforce and Showtime officially come to an agreement to extend their contract until 2014. Dana White announces that the SF heavyweight division will move over the UFC, barring the GP Final and "one more fight" for the winner.
January 6th, 2012 - Women's 145 pound champion Cristiane Santos tests positive for anabolic steroids.
January 7th - Cyborg is stripped of her title, and her division is put on hold. This leaves three of the six Strikeforce championships vacant.
February 21st - Nate Marquardt signs with Strikeforce.
March 12th - Business as usual? I think not.