Over the weekend, Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the UFC, purchased Strikeforce, the second largest MMA promotion in the United States. On Monday, Zuffa held a media call about the purchase. On the call were Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker and UFC president Dana White.
There were many questions about this huge move in the mixed martial arts world. What follows are some highlights from the media call.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker spoke first, "As you know this is a historical day for the sport of mixed martial arts. This is something that we thought long and hard about. SVSE (Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment) have been great partners with us and I think they wanted to get back to their hockey business, which is their core business. So, we had a conversation and we decide to look at different offers and that's when we started talking to Lorenzo."
UFC president Dana White again reiterated the fact that it would be business as usual with the two MMA promotions. "Scott's going to run his thing," White said. "Scott's going to communicate with all the fighters, continue to put fights on Showtime. Right here, right now, Strikeforce will continue to run their shows on Showtime."
White was then asked if the UFC would have any input on the production of Strikeforce shows. "Right now Showtime runs the production for Strikeforce," White answered. "There are a lot of things that we can do back of the house, in house to make it a better experience for the fighters and the fans, but Showtime runs the production."
The question of competition came up and if it would be impacted by this purchase. "There's always going to be competition. There's tons of shows that happen every weekend all over the world," White said. "What we're doing is that we continue to expand and grow this sport and grow this business. I've said it a million times, we need more fighters.
"As we continue to do all the shows that we're doing here in the United States, we start pushing into these new markets, we need more fighters. This isn't a thing about competition, it's about growing the sport.
"It's a good day for the fans, a great day for the fans."
White was then asked about how it impacted the fighters. "It's a great day for them too," he said. "All these guys that are fighting for Strikeforce now work for the biggest mixed martial arts organization in the world. Nothing wrong with that."
Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta then addressed a question about choices for elite MMA fighters, "There's promoters here in the US, Canada, Europe and in Asia, so painting this picture that there are not options is entirely untrue, there's literally thousands of promotions that go on all around the world, so there's plenty of options for everybody."
When the possibility of UFC versus Strikeforce "superfights" was raised White said, "I wouldn't count anything out. At the end of the day what we want to do is put on the best fights that the fans want to see, that's our job."
Fertitta continued, "If there's an interest in that and the fans want to see it, that's what we do."
White talked about some of the Strikeforce fighters that may have issues with him, "There's a lot of people on that side of the fence that aren't big fans of mine, but we can still do business. Scott Coker's the guy whose going to be running the day to day and doing everything so they're never going to have to deal with me. If you don't like me, it doesn't mean we can't do business, me and Tito (Ortiz) did business for years."
Fertitta then answered the question about a possible monopoly. "There are literally thousands of other promotions, thousands of options for fighters, it just so happens that with the groundwork we put in place over the last 10 or 11 years that we happen to be more successful," he said. "There's literally no barrier to entry, anyone that wants to get in the business, they can file for a promoter's license and put up some capital and go sign fighters and go get a television contract. It's a wide open market."
White then added, "All you got to do is go raise some cash and jump into the business. All you gotta have is some big balls and some money behind you and you can get in the business."
When asked if he thought the purchase was a positive for Strikeforce as well as himself, Coker said, "It's something when you think about the history of mixed martial arts and where it's come from and where it's gone. I am really proud of the accomplishments that we have made over the last two years and Showtime's been a great partner, but this is something that's going on now, it's real and I think that it's going to be good for mixed martial arts."
White addressed a possibility of a fighter's union saying, "That's up to the fighters. The problem with that is that this really isn't a team sport. I don't think you're going to see some of the guys that are making the big money wanting to kick some of their money down to these guys that might never make it, but that isn't up to us, that's up to them."
White was then asked about the future plans for the UFC. "We've got big plans and I've been saying it for 10 years, I believe that this is going to be the biggest sport in the world, we believe that this sport works everywhere, that people all over the world, no matter what color you are, what language you speak, everyone likes fighting.
"Mixed martial arts is exciting, people love it, we're going to bring it into all these countries and we need more fighters. We're going to continue to grow this sport and bring it to everywhere, all over the world."