Zuffa Buys Strikeforce, One Year Later

Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White, Scott CokerDana White said it would be “business as usual” when the parent company of the UFC purchased rival MMA company Strikeforce in 2011. If gutting a company is considered business as usual, well then it has been a successful year for Strikeforce and Zuffa, LLC.

I was always a big Strikeforce fan and like many, was disappointed when Zuffa bought Strikeforce. I remember like most of you what happened when Zuffa bought Pride FC and years of broken promises later all that remains are a loop of highlight programs on Fuel TV. While we aren’t there with Strikeforce, I think it is fair to say that there is cause for plenty of concern.

It has been a virtual gutting of the company over the last year for Zuffa. Three Strikeforce champions moved to the UFC as champions, relinquishing their titles in the process. The biggest draws of the company are gone and the once promising Grand Prix heavyweight tournament has turned into a complete joke. Welcome to “business as usual.”

I can’t say I expected much different. Once again, I based my prediction off of how things played out after Zuffa purchased Pride FC. To be fair, it was a completely different situation. However, the promises of keeping Pride FC alive fell short in a hurry. If not for Showtime, I can’t imagine that things would be much different Strikeforce.

While Strikeforce was never the juggernaut that the UFC is, it had star power. Nick Diaz, Fedor Emilanenko, Alistair Overeem, and Dan Henderson were stars and Strikeforce had them. Today I think it would be fair to say that the biggest star that Strikeforce has is Ronda Rousey. With all due respect to Rousey and I think she’s great, she is not enough to carry Strikeforce.

The championship situation in Strikeforce is a mess. You had three champions that just up and left the company without losing their belts. Two of those titles remain vacant today. You have challengers that probably couldn’t even get into The Ultimate Fighter house. One champion was stripped after failing a PED test. There are no strong challengers for any title, thus rendering most of the title situations moot.

Zuffa promoted Strikeforce events heavy early on during UFC broadcasts. That rarely happens anymore. Quite frankly if you weren’t a hardcore MMA fan, you wouldn’t even know that the two companies are under the same umbrella. The synergy that appeared to be brewing between both companies immediately after the sale appears to have dissipated as quick as it came.

I won’t go as far as to say that the company is in trouble because as long as Showtime keeps airing shows, Strikeforce won’t go anywhere. However, recent comments from Dana White criticizing Showtime production values are either a calculated move to sabotage the relationship or just the ranting of a man that could care less whether Strikeforce lives or dies. It’s over without Showtime and for all I know that is exactly what the UFC president is hoping to happen.

This would be a lesson of disastrous mismanagement taught in an MBA class if we were looking at this story in any other business. Looking at how 2011 played out, I don’t have high hopes for Strikeforce in 2012.

The biggest losers here are the Strikeforce fans and fighters. This could have been huge. Strikeforce could have been turned into a strong #2, in synergy with the UFC, giving MMA fans exciting moments and dream fights. Instead, it appears to be nothing more than a write-off for the Zuffa bookkeepers.

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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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