Why the Business of MMA Needs Strikeforce

Brian OswaldMMA Editor May 4, 2009

Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover once said, “Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress."

Maybe that is why so many people within the mixed-martial-arts community have been searching the desert for an oasis of competition to emerge.

With the recent failings of the IFL and Elite XC, coupled with the uncertain future of Affliction, fans of the sport have become a bit bewildered over where such competition would materialize.

Amidst all the chaos and confusion, Strikeforce has come forward as the competition needed to balance the MMA equation. Led by owner Scott Coker, Strikeforce is starting make waves.

In my recent exclusive interview with MMA Mania, Scott gave us some insight into what has allowed his company to remain resolute while others have come and gone.

“We are not going to be that company that goes out and hires 100 people and grows haphazardly or becomes so top heavy that we just can’t make money.

We are going to grow the business organically and as needed. So far I am very happy with the business model that has been carried out. Hopefully our more than 20 years of experience will kick in during the times when we need it.”

Strikeforce has quietly been making smart business choices for over 20 years. It is refreshing to see an organization other than the UFC take such a sound business approach to mixed martial arts.

“My background in promoting martial arts started in 1985 when we were doing PK Karate, which was on ESPN," said Coker. "Fast forward to when mixed martial arts became legal in California. I made the jump to MMA and never looked back.”

We did our first show March 10, 2006 with Frank Shamrock fighting Caesar Gracie. That is when Strikeforce MMA was born. For that fight card, Dave Meltzer was quoted recently saying 'we still have the record for the biggest paid attendance for an MMA show in the United States.'

It was a big night. We had over 18,265 paid so I felt like he hit a grand slam home run coming out of the gate. It put us in a great position for sure, got a lot of eyeballs on us, and gave us the ability to talk to some of the bigger name fighters out there. I feel like we’ve had a good run from the very beginning.”

Jump to April 2009.

Strikeforce was successful in its first fight card since purchasing the assets to Elite XC. For its second event, which is set for June, Coker and company are already filling out a fight card that, on paper, will be its most impressive to date.

Talking on the mentality of putting together fight cards Coker said, “We would like to harken back to the old PRIDE days when you used to see five big fights. Not just a headliner and four passing fights. That is what we want to get back to. When a fan can come in, pay as little as 30 dollars to get into the stadium, and see five superstar fights. I think that everyone will like to see that."

Watching Strikeforce evolve as an organization will be half the fun with the fights making up the other half. What makes things even more intriguing is the prospect of watching every single fight card on Showtime.

"Our sport has great fighters and great fans. And the fans really get to connect to those fighters. Strikeforce is here to stay; we are definitely going to do our part to grow the sport and be good ambassadors of the sport. It’s about pushing forward and our relationship with Showtime gives us the opportunity to put on 12-14 shows a year, moving forward."

That kind of math is something MMA fans can get behind. Given that Showtime costs around ten bucks a month, it breaks down to ten dollars a fight card or less. Compare that to the 45 dollar price tag the UFC charges per PPV. Although, to be fair, you have to adjust that price downward to include all the free programming that airs on Spike.

A competitive world offers two possibilities. You can lose. Or, if you want to win, you can change. Strikeforce, along with Showtime, are looking to change the way MMA is packaged to the mainstream.

While competition creates better products, alliances create better companies. Showtime’s stalwart commitment to help Strikeforce grow the sport will not only ensure the fans a better MMA product, it will create the motivation needed for progress within the sport of MMA.

According to Herbert Hoover at least, that is what competition is all about.