Tuesday, 15 March 2011

UFC Purchases Strikeforce, Dana White assures "business as usual" for both companies

By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

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Zuffa, LLC, parent company for the UFC, has purchased Strikeforce.

UFC President Dana White today confirmed the news in a lengthy video interview with Ariel Helwani at MMAFighting.com, and discussed the UFC's plans for their newly acquired company.

The theme of the interview was "business as usual," as White was adamant that all contracts currently in place would be honored, and Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker will remain as head of Strikeforce. However, he'll be backed by the world's leading MMA promotion going forward.

"Scott Coker will continue to run Strikeforce with his people," White said. "Can we add to it? Can we supplement and help them grow? Absolutely. Can we make some tweaks with our experience and knowledge? Absolutely."

This is similar to the UFC's purchase of World Extreme Cagefighting at the end of 2006, in that it will remain as a separate entity, run by a separate management group and with its own fighters and contracts. For the time being, there will be no immediate crossover of talent, though White did make it clear that once contracts are up fighters will be fair game.

"Let's say some of the fighter contracts expire, I then have the right to go in and negotiate for the UFC and to try to acquire some of this talent," White explained.

But for the time being, while Strikeforce has a contract with Showtime to air MMA events, they will be run as a separate entity from the UFC, and White reiterated multiple times throughout the interview with Helwani that Scott Coker is in charge of the Strikeforce brand. He was also asked about the status of numerous fighters on the Strikeforce roster, including Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett and Paul Daley, and once more pointed back to contracts currently in place.

"The relationship with Showtime is between them and Scott Coker, and Scott Coker will continue to run and maintain their relationship," said White. "There's a lot of other guys on that side that probably don't like me, like the M-1 Global guys... Scott Coker will continue to run that side of things."

"We honor contracts. If you have a contract, we will honor that contract. Fedor is a Strikeforce/Showtime contracted fighter and he will remain a Strikeforce/Showtime fighter."

As for Barnett and Daley, while their respective contracts with Strikeforce are intact, White said he would not look to sign them to the UFC when the deals are up.

Much like with their acquisition of Pride, the UFC has acquired the video library of Strikeforce and hold control over the organization as a whole. As for the future, it's not entirely clear, but ESPN's Josh Gross has tweeted that once Strikeforce's deal with Showtime is finished, he's being told that they are expected to be merged into the UFC.

For now, it's "business as usual" as White said, but once some of these contracts begin running out, that's when things will begin getting very interesting.

The UFC now has overtaken their closest competitor in North America, and are poised to expand their reach even further with yet another MMA company under their control.

Source: http://www.mmatorch.com/artman2/publish/UFC_2/article_8729.shtml

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