Nick Diaz Vacates The Strikeforce Title, Now A UFC Fighter

UFC president Dana White announced on Thursday that Nick Diaz has vacated his Strikeforce welterweight championship. White said that Diaz’s new contract makes him a UFC fighter. In other words, the demise of Strikeforce is now officially underway.

When Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the UFC bought Strikeforce in March, MMA fans worried that Strikeforce would wind up like Pride FC after they were bought. Dana White immediately assured the fans that it would be “business as usual.” Unfortunately White left out the end of the sentence, “for the next thirty days.”

White told the media on Thursday that Nick Diaz is now a full time UFC fighter and has vacated the title. This conflicts earlier reports about Diaz’s new contract. Previous stories reported that Diaz signed a hybrid UFC/Strikeforce contract that would allow him to compete in both companies. Nope! The boss made it crystal clear on Thursday that the only time you will be seeing Nick Diaz fight in the future is the UFC.

Make no mistake about it. This is the end of Strikeforce. Does taking Nick Diaz away from Strikeforce cripple the entire company? Of course not, but it is a clear indication of what the UFC’s plans are going forward for Strikeforce and Strikeforce fighters. The UFC will obviously be cherry picking fighters to bring over to the UFC. Sadly for Strikeforce fans, those fighters will be the top draws, leaving the company in the dust.

I do get the idea of Diaz vacating the title to fight Georges St-Pierre. What if Diaz won the UFC welterweight title? Will the UFC give away their championship fights to Showtime? What if Diaz defended the Strikeforce title on Showtime while UFC champion and lost? What if they did a title vs. title fight? Is Georges St-Pierre really going to go on Showtime to fight KJ Noons? I get it, but did you have to take Diaz away from Strikeforce for good?

The funny or disturbing thing about this whole Nick Diaz story is how little the MMA media has gotten right. First they there coaching on The Ultimate Fighter, then they were not, then they were fighting, then they were not, then they were fighting in a battle of champions, then Showtime blocked the fight, then they were fighting, then Nick Diaz signed a contract to fight on both brands, and now he is a UFC fighter and has vacated the title. I am sorry but if MMA journalists and reporters wish to be respected the same way other sports writers are regarded, they really need to take a hard look in the mirror Friday morning when reviewing their “reporting” on the story.

It would appear with Diaz signing a UFC contract that MMA fans will never get Strikeforce vs. UFC fights or true championship unification matches. White indicated Thursday that there was nothing in past Strikeforce contracts that precluded these fights from happening but I don’t buy it. If that is the case, why make Nick Diaz a UFC fighter? Why not keep him on the Strikeforce brand? I am sure Showtime are just thrilled at seeing their second biggest drawing card move over to the UFC while currently under contract to Strikeforce.

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This also goes back to something I wrote a few weeks ago about potential Showtime issues with UFC vs. Strikeforce fights. I questioned whether the UFC could simply terminate a Strikeforce contract and re-sign them to a UFC deal if Showtime stood in the way of fights. Well, guess what happened? I hate to break it to Showtime but they have zero leverage in this situation and at this point will be lucky to keep a headliner around for more than a few fights.

Fortunately for Showtime, they have their biggest draw locked up under a unique contract. Like him or not, Fedor Emelianenko is the biggest draw on Showtime. According to reports, Fedor is under contract directly with Showtime Networks Inc. This makes his situation unique in that Dana White can’t steal him away to the UFC no matter how badly he wants him to fight. This also explains Fedor’s huge pay day for the Dan Henderson fight and where the money is coming from.

Dana White did tell reporters that if “things didn’t go well” for Nick Diaz that he would have no problem booking him on Strikeforce shows. Does anyone really think that Nick Diaz is ever fighting in Strikeforce again?

As for the future of the Strikeforce welterweight title, Dana told reporters, “He will give up the title. He will give up his Strikeforce title. He will come in and fight Georges St. Pierre. Two guys will fight for the vacant belt in Strikeforce, and then we’ll go from there.”

So this is it. I am excited like the rest of the MMA community about the Diaz vs. GSP fight and seeing Nick Diaz return to the UFC. However, there is a part of me that bummed out yesterday after hearing this latest turn of events. I was a big Strikeforce fan. I know it wasn’t going to last forever, but it would have been fun to see the fighters go back and forth for the next two years or however long the Showtime contract is. Unfortunately that just isn’t likely to happen.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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