July 14, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Luke Rockhold (blue shorts) fights Tim Kennedy (white shorts) for the middleweight title at MMA Strikeforce at the Rose Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE
Dave Meltzer's latest podcast has a bit of shocking news that we'd not heard to this point when it comes to Strikeforce fighters. In the wake of last night's Strikeforce show that saw Luke Rockhold retain his Strikeforce middleweight title, Dave was discussing the idea of fighters in Strikeforce fighting the best in the UFC when he said the words "but that can't happen because of the deal with Showtime."
"They made this list of guys and they said 'these are our guys' and, even if their contract expires, they can't move to UFC. That's part of their deal with keeping this alive. So these guys are stuck."
To be clear, the UFC signed this agreement.
"He [Gilbert Melendez] couldn't go to UFC. He could go to Bellator if he wanted to, but he couldn't go to the UFC.
There's a list of guys, not everyone on Showtime is on the list, but Ronda Rousey is on the list, Gilbert Melendez is on the list, Luke Rockhold is on the list...
It's for as long as Showtime broadcasts MMA."
That doesn't mean as long as Showtime broadcasts Strikeforce, but rather as long as Showtime broadcasts any MMA from the way Meltzer explained it.
More after the jump...
Note: I think it's important that we understand that this could be a misunderstanding, could be fact, could be somewhere in the middle. Meltzer has talked to people about it, it appears that if it is not the case, that some people think it is. Discuss it with that in mind.
Update 1:42 p.m. ET: Meltzer clarified the Rousey situation:
As long as Showtime and Zuffa have a contract to broadcast events, Rousey can only fight on a UFC show if Showtime allows her to do so. She's not banned, but Showtime has to make the decision. That's why I recommended Showtime should allow her to fight on the December UFC show.
From what I'm told "the list" does exist but Rousey might not be a member of that list to the same restrictive degree.
When asked if this means that if Showtime broadcasts MMA for 15 years, for the next 14, they can't go to the UFC?
"No, because they're Showtime fighters for life. Or they could leave the Zuffa organization."
And also, on the idea of if this could be challenged in court:
"They can't because it's a contract the UFC has, it's not a fighter deal. I've had the whole thing explained to me by one of the fighters on the list.
Zuffa isn't going to do it to be in breach of contract. The contract is between Zuffa and Showtime that this list of fighters are Showtime fighters and if they're in the Zuffa organization they will fight on Showtime."
This is a shocking development and means that the Strikeforce fighters are stuck on Showtime for the foreseeable future. Should Strikeforce be dissolved, Showtime could promote their own independent MMA shows or bring on any other promotion and keep Strikeforce's top stars locked out of the UFC and, presumably, on their airwaves.