By Jason Moles
In the first three quarters of 2011, the mixed martial arts landscape has changed radically.
We have witnessed the ascension of a smaller promotion with the aid of a hip cable channel and the ruination of a former mecca of MMA at the hands of natural disasters. Fighters have been busted for Nate Marquardt … Wait, What?” href=”http://www.cagepotato.com/and-now-hes-fired-nate-marquardt-wait-what/” target=”_blank”>elevated Testosterone levels, arrested for their Brett Rogers Charged With Multiple Felonies After Alleged Wife-Beating Incident [UPDATED]” href=”http://www.cagepotato.com/brett-rogers-charged-with-multiple-felonies-after-alleged-wife-beating-incident/” target=”_blank”>various Hermes Franca Releases Statement From Jail Following Sexual Abuse Arrest” href=”http://www.cagepotato.com/hermes-franca-releases-statement-from-jail-following-sexual-abuse-arrest/” target=”_blank”>transgressions, cut after a bad showing in the Octagon, and ensured that their job was secure after losing an unprecedented four fights straight.
Of all the things we’ve seen thus far, two news stories are head and shoulders above the rest in terms of impact. The announcement of Zuffa’s acquisition of Strikeforce and the recent news of UFC signing a television deal with FOX are the top two pound-for-pound news stories of 2011. Which story carries more significance? Which is the bigger game-changer? Only here at CagePotato, you the reader get to decide.
But first, let’s lay out both sides of the argument…
When considering the magnitude of the top two MMA news stories this year, one must place a value on the potential impact they have on the sport, tally up the pros and cons, and determine the effect they have going forward.
On March 12, Ariel Helwani’s video interview with Dana White made the rounds as fans shared, liked, re-tweeted, and Digged the single most shocking announcement in the sport’s short history: Zuffa had purchased Strikeforce. Without a hint of speculation or rumor, the world’s most prominent mixed martial arts promotion had quietly acquired its only real competition — news that came straight out of left field, even to those usually in the know. Not since the AFL-NFL merger has a sport been so wonderfully impacted. Not since the WWE bought WCW has one
man promotion had so much power over their employees. To say the announcement was a watershed moment is an understatement to say the least.
The ramifications, implications, and potential have yet to be fully understood, but what we do know is that all of the world’s best fighters were suddenly under the same roof, with Eddie Alvarez Issues Obligatory Criticism of UFC Fighters” href=”http://www.cagepotato.com/eddie-alvarez-issues-obligatory-criticism-of-ufc-fighters/” target=”_blank”>one, maybe Hector Lombard Scores Another Savage KO at Bellator 44″ href=”http://www.cagepotato.com/video-hector-lombard-scores-another-savage-ko-at-bellator-44/” target=”_blank”>two, notable exceptions.
Fans could now entertain the idea of super fights and undisputed champions without having to release their grip on an otherwise bleak reality. Can Alistair Overeem handle the UFC’s best? Would Randy beat Fedor? Will GSP be impressed with Nick Diaz‘s per-for-mance? Forget all of the contract-related legal speak — it is all in the realm of possibility. Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Nick Diaz have already hopped the fence for greener pastures and entertaining matchups. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be a lot more where that came from. (Isn’t that right, Hendo?)
But it’s not all rainbows and bunny rabbits for everybody. From here on out, if a fighter is cut from Zuffa, he or she may have a hard time making a living. The fighters are left with very little leverage at the negotiating table and White and the Fertittas know it. To put it in terms that most of our readership can relate to: It’s like being denied a pay increase at McDonald’s because they know full well that you’ll take what they give you or wind up in the unemployment line because Burger King went out of business and Jack-in-the-Box can barely afford to keep its big-headed star as it is.
Dana White preached “business as usual” while the mounting evidence proved otherwise.
It is a foregone conclusion that Strikeforce will go the way of the WEC, PRIDE FC, and Oreo O’s, all of which brought so many of us great joy while they lasted. While the majority of Strikeforce fighters are still currently fighting under its banner on Showtime, the rule that prohibited a fighter from utilizing elbows to the head of a grounded opponent has been lifted. Sponsors would now be responsible for paying the Zuffa Sponsor Fee, which left at least one patriotic company MIA. Oh, and if you happen to be unfortunate enough to work in the front office in San Jose you’ll be better served updating your resume than watching the rest of the ramshackle heavyweight grand prix.
Overall, the purchase of Strikeforce by Zuffa is not only the biggest news story of the year, it is the biggest news story of the decade. Am I getting ahead of myself? Not really. After all, it’s only been eight months since the decade started so they’re pretty much one in the same. Just like the aforementioned AFL-NFL merger, this deal will be recognized for paving the way of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s global domination.