On March 12, Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the UFC, purchased its rival promotion Strikeforce.
Learning of this news while I was training with Vladmir Matyushenko from his manager, Nima Safapour from Alchemist Management Group, the training session being performed to prepare Vladimir for his fight against Jason Brilz at UFC 129 on April 30, came to a halt.
Immediate discussion ensued regarding the year's biggest mixed martial arts news. After purchasing rival promotions WFA, WEC and Pride Fighting Championships in the past, Zuffa's takeover of Strikeforce and the absorption of its stable of fighters further entrenches the UFC's preeminent stranglehold as the dominant mixed martial arts promotion worldwide.
So, what does the UFC's purchase of Strikeforce mean for MMA?
I will approach this question from two distinct paths—the business of mixed martial arts and the community of mixed martial arts including the fighters and fans.
From the business viewpoint, Zuffa LLC is benefiting from the foundation of the American economic system, capitalism.
Simply put, capitalism is based on profit. Private ownership of the product allows the ownership group to control all facets of the supply and demand, resulting in a greater profit.
In short, Zuffa LLC now holds all the cards with respect to the global appeal of MMA. This one entity has control over what venues are performed, in what countries, on what date and with which fighters.
Essentially, Zuffa LLC has established a legal monopoly of the business of mixed martial arts.
Without competition, there is no fear from Zuffa that fans will be drawn to a rival promotion. If fans want to view the highest level of ultimate fighting, they must tune into UFC-sanctioned events.
This reality is a huge benefit to Zuffa LLC and its bottom line.
As for the community of mixed martial arts, this facet also has two distinct paths—the stable of fighters contracted by the UFC and the fans themselves.
As for the pool of talent, each weight class will now be saturated with top-tier fighters.
Competitors such as Nick Diaz will bolster the welterweight division; Jacare Souza will elevate the UFC middleweight division and the roster of heavyweights including Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum and Fedor Emelianenko will create the greatest heavyweight roster in MMA history.
This influx of new talent may end careers, however. For those fighters on the cusp of job security including those with two recent losses, the tolerance level of Dana White and the UFC may be shortened.
Additionally, questions arise considering those fighters who have had personal issues with the "boss" including Paul Daley and Dan Henderson. Will their run-ins with Dana White lead to pink slips for these fighters?
And as Shelley Devine pointed out in her most recent Bleacher Report article, what does this purchase mean for the female fighters of MMA? Dana White has been adamant in his opposition of women fighters competing in the Octagon.
Answers to these questions and more will unravel over the next few weeks and months.
As for the fans, the merger of the Strikeforce talent with the UFC roster of fighters could be a dream come true.
Pairings in the future could include current Strikeforce lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez versus either Frankie Edgar or Gray Maynard.
Additional matchups may comprise Jacare Souza versus current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva; Tim Kennedy versus Chael Sonnen; as well as Alistair Overeem versus Brock Lesnar and Fedor Emelianenko versus Randy Couture.
Dana White stated that super-fights are not in the future plans, but these dream matchups are inevitable.
This merger is an extremely dynamic purchase resulting in a myriad of pros and cons for MMA. More competitive fights will be witnessed and an overhaul of the current roster may be executed.
When all the logistics are in place, I do feel that the purchase was good for MMA. And the group that will benefit the most from Zuffa's takeover of Strikeforce will be the fans.
I welcome your comments.
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