(Do women in the UFC represent a new path to the future, or business as usual? Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting)
By Brian J. D’Souza
There have been many landmark events in MMA history — the inception of the UFC in 1993, the debut of The Ultimate Fighter in 2005, the fall of PRIDE in 2007, and the acquisition of Strikeforce in 2011. As 2013 gets underway, it’s already becoming apparent that the sport is undergoing a series of events that will change it forever.
THE DISSOLUTION OF STRIKEFORCE
On March 12, 2011, Zuffa acquired Strikeforce. Although the San Jose-based promotion was subsequently stripped of many of its best fighters, television network Showtime opted to renew their broadcast deal with the promotion — until now. The January 13, 2013 show headlined by Nate Marquardt vs. Tarec Saffiedine will be the promotion’s death knell, as the name “Strikeforce” takes its final resting place in the cemetery next to Affliction, WEC, PRIDE, Elite XC, BodogFight, and the IFL.
There were obvious benefits in Zuffa stringing Showtime along as a broadcast partner of the increasingly-diluted Strikeforce brand: It kept Showtime from seeking a new promoter, independent of Zuffa, to partner with. Currently, promotions like Shark Fights, Legacy Fighting Championship, Invicta FC, and Xtreme Fighting Championships are in the running as potential broadcast partners for Showtime. For the winning promotion(s), mainstream television exposure on CBS might also be possible, just as CBS aired Strikeforce events in the past.
However, no matter which promotion Showtime airs, the most significant component of the deal comes down to what brand-name fighters can be acquired to get better ratings and more subscribers for Showtime.
THE RISE OF BELLATOR