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Tag: UFC buys Strikeforce

New Zuffa Employee Scott Coker Pretends to be Upbeat About UFC’s Purchase of Strikeforce

(Vid: HDNet)

To hear Scott Coker tell it, the story of Strikeforce is one of a plucky little regional promotion battling its way out of the shadows into the national spotlight, then cashing in its chips at the height of its popularity. At least that seems to be the rhetorical strategy Coker employs in the above video on HDNet, as he makes his first significant public appearance since Zuffa, LLC. bought his company 10 days ago. Coker allows Bas Rutten to fire cartoonish questions at him for more than 15 minutes, all the while appearing dutifully optimistic about what his new employers plan to do with the MMA organization he built almost singlehandedly.

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News Flash: UFC-Strikeforce Deal is Not Good for the Sport

(Fans may now choose between both kinds of music, country *and* western. Pic: MMAViewers.com)

It was almost like Dana White was shooting for some kind of bizarre performance art during his interview with Ariel Helwani on Saturday announcing Zuffa, LLC’s sudden acquisition of Strikeforce. It was as if the big bossman was trying to underscore what a huge moment this was for his company by assuring us again and again that it was actually no big deal. Instead of jumping up on the $5,000 coffee table and shaking his junk in our faces while yelling “Domino, motherfucker!” he played it cool – indifferent, even. White didn’t gloat, barely smiled and perhaps set some kind of personal record by conducting a 20-minute interview without really swearing at all. It was all pretty telling, in a roundabout kind of way.

If White’s very un-Dana demeanor didn’t clue you in to the fact his new “business as usual” catchphrase is total bullshit, well, you must be new to the sport. This is a dude who keeps a Styrofoam tombstone in his office bedecked with the names of his fallen enemies and over the weekend his company essentially sewed up total, indefinite control of the marketplace moving forward. Chances are, underneath it all he was pretty pumped. The Strikeforce deal may not give Zuffa a legal monopoly on our sport, but it sure looks like the company now has a practical one. So, maybe – just maybe – White’s “ah shucks” act and constant downplaying of this moment is a bit of strategery. Perhaps he’d like it very much if the rest of us would forget that this news is very, very good for him and his partners and very, very bad for almost everyone else.

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Future Shock: Six Possible Outcomes of Zuffa’s Strikeforce Purchase

Scott Coker Strikeforce M1 M-1 Global MMA
(“…on the bright side, me and Vadim were offered high-paying jobs as ‘consultants.’ So don’t worry about us, guys, we’ll be fine.”)

Saturday’s announcement that Zuffa purchased Strikeforce represented such a monumental shift in the MMA landscape that it was hard to process all at once. There are so many ways that this thing could play out, it’s almost useless to speculate about what might happen. Then again, what else are we going to do? Here are the possible effects that the Strikeforce buyout will (maybe) produce in the coming months, years, and decades…

Strikeforce will go the way of the WEC
When Zuffa bought the WEC in December 2006, they also vowed to keep “business as usual.” And for four years, they did; the WEC existed as a separate entity, and their consistently entertaining cards and smaller fighters were beloved by MMA fans. Eventually, Zuffa decided that the WEC had gone as far as it could as a promotion, and absorbed their featherweight and bantamweight divisions. A similar arc is highly likely for Strikeforce. Zuffa will keep the promotion running for a while because fans appreciate its fighters and entertainment-based matchmaking, but when Strikeforce’s contracts with its fighters and Showtime run out, the UFC will cherry-pick the best talent for its own roster and disband the operation.

The UFC will become the only brand in MMA
50 years from now, MMA fans will think of Strikeforce and PRIDE the same way we think of the ABA for basketball or the AFL for football — temporary competitors to the major leagues that had to be swallowed up for the sport to enter its unified, modern period. Some fans and fighters seem to be nervous about what a “monopoly” might mean for MMA. And maybe for good reason. If you’re a fighter like Josh Barnett or Paul Daley who’s on a permanent UFC blacklist, your career options just took a hit, especially with the Japanese MMA scene taking its dying breaths. Plus, the UFC’s revenue model is pay-per-view driven, which makes the comparison to basketball and football an imperfect one, especially in terms of how fans consume the sport. But in the long run, a single major-league promotion might be the best arrangement — the UFC as the NFL/NBA of MMA, with smaller regional promotions standing in for the collegiate system that those other leagues rely on. (Hell, maybe there will even be a full-fledged annual UFC draft at some point.) By comparison, boxing’s decline can be blamed in large part on the glut of competing promoters and sanctioning bodies. There’s reason to be optimistic here.

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