MMA: Understanding the UFC's Purpose for Keeping Strikeforce Alive

Walt J.Correspondent IApril 15, 2012

What does the future truly hold for Strikeforce? It has been 13 months since UFC-parent Zuffa purchased the Strikeforce promotion. Right away, speculation ran rampant throughout the sport on exactly what the fate of Strikeforce would be.

The fire sale that ensued in the months following aided in the speculation. Names like Alistair Overeem, Antonio Silva, Cung Le, Nick Diaz and Fabricio Werdum were swiped almost immediately.

In December 2011, Dana White announced that a new deal had been struck between Strikeforce and Showtime to keep programming on the network through 2012.

On Thursday, published an article showing the junior varsity-like effort that is the Strikeforce website. This certainly doesn't resemble an organization with plans for the future.

Plus, where has Scott Coker been? Was he in witness protection or something?

Ever since the Strikeforce sale commenced, I've been trying to wrap my brain around why Zuffa has kept them around. Finally it hit me; Strikeforce is a test-tube organization for women's mixed martial arts.

Dana White has said numerous times in the past that women's MMA does not have a deep enough talent pool to bring it into the UFC. Yet he has expressed that the WMMA does possess some talented fighters, most notably with the Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey fight. 

Aldo vs. Faber was the WEC's first PPV event.
Aldo vs. Faber was the WEC's first PPV event.

For many of the major moves that the UFC has taken, there has been some sort of testing ground on the big stage. When the featherweight and bantamweight divisions were added, WEC was used as a testing ground to see if bringing these smaller guys to the UFC was sustainable. 

WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber, presented by the UFC after the Zuffa/WEC acquisition, was the first WEC event shown on pay-per-view. PRIDE already boasted some of the best fighters in the world when they were purchased by Zuffa. Even then, the promotion wasn’t immediately dissolved in the UFC.

Shutting down Strikeforce would essentially end women’s mixed martial arts on the larger stage. 

Currently, though the talent pool does appear to lack the ability to sustain several women’s weight classes, there does appear to be some top talent available and fighters such as Tate and Rousey possess marketing potential. 

The Strikeforce brand allows Dana White the ability to monitor and evaluate the sustainability of WMMA without affecting his number one priority, which is protecting the UFC brand. 

The fight between Tate and Rousey gave White a glimpse into the marketability of a card headlined by a WMMA fight.

The next few months will give us a better look into the future of Strikeforce. Strikeforce will finalize their heavyweight grand prix and Rousey will most likely make her first title defense.  

If this is the last calendar year for Strikeforce, the question then becomes, can the UFC launch a successful women’s division? Then again, would they want to?


Follow Walt J. as he gives his no-holds-barred opinions on the NFL, MMA and other sports topics on his blog, You can also follow him on Twitter @area49sports or like him on Facebook at Area49sports.