ZUFFA PURCHASES STRIKEFORCE:
Drunken Hallucination or Impossible Reality?
When I first read the news about this unexpected deal, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was at an after party here in Göteborg (HammerFall had just had a listening session for our new album with journalists from all over Europe) and I was just checking the MMA Fighting app ’cause, you know, no matter what I’m doing, I still have to make sure I’m not missing anything. At first, I thought I had misread it since the ability to read small print diminishes with each beer you consume. And I had had quite a few. Anyway, it was apparently true, and I couldn’t concentrate on the drinking anymore, this was just too huge!
If I were to compare it to metal somehow, it would be the equivalent of something like this:
Let’s say there were only a few big bands, Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax (being on the same level as they currently are) with a distinct difference between all three levels. Apart from that, you had a couple of struggling acts in Japan and a bunch of garage bands touring their state or region regularly but with no international exposure to anyone other than the dedicated few who scourge the earth for anything metal-related. Then, out of the blue, the organization behind Metallica decided to buy Slayer. Remember, there are not a myriad of various different metal bands out there, just these I mentioned and some much smaller ones. Imagine the possible impact this would have on the music community, when Metallica would own and control their biggest rival, ensuring they never would grow enough to really challenge the kingpin. Metallica could, hypothetically, replace Kirk Hammett with Kerry King or Jeff Hanneman for a couple of tours, or send Lard Ulrich to Slayer for some seasoning. Now, I know this is kind of a lame comparison, but it’s as close as I can come, okay?
What this means in the world of MMA, is that the UFC can basically take what they want from Strikeforce and then discard the promotion, like they have done with both Pride and WEC. This is a great thing and a bad thing for us as fans, because it will ensure that MMA has one set of champions and will further work to eliminate the “My champ’s the REAL champ and much better than yours” stigma that boxing has suffered from for so long. The more organizations laying claim to the title “World” Champion, the more diluted the belts become. It’s just common sense.
Imagine if there were several governing bodies in football, for example – and no, I’m not talking about the American version where you play with your hands – and more than one World Champion, backed by whoever had money to start up their own league any particular year! The prestige that comes with winning the World Cup held every fourth year would be completely eroded if any organization could put on its own World Cup and crown its own “World” champion. This is how any proper sport should be governed, of course, centrally, and it makes all the sense in the world that MMA should work in the same way.
UFC President Dana White maintains it will be “business as usual”, meaning Scott Coker will still be head of Strikeforce, but instead of being a co-owner of the promotion he is now employed by Zuffa. All the existing contracts will, according to the new brass, be honored, meaning Strikeforce will continue to promote the events they have scheduled for the foreseeable future. The deal they have with television company Showtime, who co-promotes most of the events, will also run its course (it’s through 2012 or 2014, depending on the source). But rest assured, there will come a time when the existence of Strikeforce will come to an end, and that might be the one of the best or most important things that have happened in MMA history.
For the UFC, the obvious upside is that they will control their “competition” and be able to reap the benefits of whatever success said “competition” has over the next years. Plus, and this might be the most important factor of them all, they will have the ability to promote UFC Champion vs. Strikeforce Champion dream matches at their leisure in the future. Who wouldn’t want to see GSP vs. Nick Diaz, or Frankie Edgar vs. Gilbert Melendez in belt unification matches?
And let’s not forget the ongoing heavyweight tournament Strikeforce has gotten off the ground (barely, but that is a topic for another week), the winner of which will be in a great place to challenge for either of the organization’s titles (provided there are still two to choose from, of course).
Every fighter under contract with Strikeforce has the potential of becoming a UFC employee as soon as their term is up, and while that takes away from the potential leverage the fighter would have come contract negotiations, it also gives them a bigger opportunity at earning more money, as the UFC pay scale has many more levels. And the official long-term goal for the UFC is to have shows somewhere in the world every weekend, sometimes two at the same time in different parts, which will mean much more fights will be put on, which in turn means more fighters will be needed to fill the cards.
If Zuffa really is looking to take the UFC worldwide – and they’re already on their way, with events in Dubai, Europe and Australia already held, and Brazil coming up in the summer – this is another giant step towards that goal. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: these are very, very exciting times to be an MMA fan!
** Oscar Dronjak’s (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 1 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak’s (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 2 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak’s (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 3 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak’s (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 4 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak’s (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 5 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak’s (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 6 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak’s (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 7 by clicking here.
** HammerFall’s new album, Infected, is out June 7th, 2011 on Nuclear Blast Records.