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Yes, the UFC-Strikeforce Deal is Good for the Sport

In the biggest “holy shit” moment since, well, the last time the UFC bought out their biggest rival, Dana White and company opened up the Zuffa wallet and added Strikeforce to their collection of beaten MMA promotions. While this news caused many observers to spit out their morning coffee in surpirse, it has also caused many others to opine about the possible ramifications of the deal.

An unnamed writer over at Cage Potato seems to think this whole thing — you know, the further consolidation of top-level fighters all fighting for the same company — is inherently bad for the sport.

When the UFC took possession of Strikeforce, it instantly made the already small MMA market a lot smaller. For athletes who wish to compete at the highest level, there is now really only one place to play. For people who want to advertise their products, there is essentially now only one cage worth stamping your logo on, if they’ll let you. If you’re an agent or manager, there is simply nobody else to negotiate with and nobody to get competing bids from. If a fighter gets cut from the UFC, now where does he/she go? Answer: Nowhere, and fighters already know that.

What’s with all the gloom-and-doom? Why is the fact that there’s only one game in town a bad thing? In short, it’s not. It’s a very good thing for everybody. Well, mostly everybody.

For fighters, there will soon be no question as to who the best in the world is. Once the fighters all begin fighting for the same promotion, which I fully expect will happen as soon as Strikeforce’s Showtime deal runs out next year, there will be no arguing that a Strikeforce champion might be better than a UFC champ, or vice versa. This will give the fighters, and the fans, a sense of stability. Everyone will strive to fight in the promotion that houses the best fighters in the world, no questions asked. And with all the best fighters under one roof, the competition will only get better, meaning fighters will have to stay sharp and skilled in order to succeed. That can only result in an even higher quality of competition than fighters and fans alike are already used to.

For the agents and managers, and more importantly for the fighters’ bank accounts, the lack of a negotiating alternative doesn’t really mean much. The UFC only continues to grow, which means the company is making more money, which only means that there are more resources from which to better compensate the fighters. Instead of getting competing bids from multiple companies, UFC fighters can simply use what their colleagues are making as leverage in negotiations. The idea that the UFC is going to use it’s near-monopoly power to lowball those who go in the cage and risk it all is an irrational conspiracy theory.

More after the jump.

The only people that have to worry are those that have in some way found themsleves on the UFC’s bad side over the years. The simple solution to that is don’t piss off the people who run the industry you work in. Anyone feeling bad for people like Paul Daley and Josh Barnett have a misguided sense of logic.

Daley made a huge mistake when he tried to suckerpunch Josh Koscheck. Afterwards, he should have handled it professionally and apologized repeatedly. The smart way to handle this news would have been to simply be humble about it. Instead the guy takes to Facebook and the UG ranting like an idiot while trying to paint the UFC as the bad guy, even though he was the one who decided to suckerpunch a colleague on national television. If he wants to do the smart thing for his career and continue fighting for Zuffa after his Strikeforce contract expires, all he has to do is keep winning and keep his mouth shut. While Dana says Daley will never fight in the UFC again, that sentiment will change if Daley beats Nick Diaz and goes on a win streak. What’s good for business will always outweigh any personal animosity, as we’ve seen in this sport time and time again.

As for Barnett, he has publicly responded to this news appropriately, and that can only help his chances once his contract expires. Just like Daley, all Barnett has to do to maintain employment is to win. If he winds up winning the Strikeforce GP, the UFC will have no choice but to sign him. And if he doesn’t he’ll likely be ranked outside of the top 15 heavyweights in the world and therefore his services won’t be entirely necessary in a promotion that houses the absolute best in the world.

In sum, housing all of the best fighters under one roof is the goal we have all been waiting for. When the UFC bought Pride, similar concerns as those made by Cage Potato were raised. Yet in the years since that transaction, fighter pay has slowly but steadily increased and we’ve seen a host of superfights that we would have never seen without the buyout. If history is any indication, the sky is not falling. The quality of fights will only continue to grow, and that can only be a good thing for the fighters, the fans, and the industry as a whole.


  • Predator8u

    Sport yes, Fans NO! Monopolies are always good for business. I already get 6 less WEC events a year. I dont see “no competition” as a good thing. You must be in Business or Law.

  • iamphoenix

    “If a fighter gets cut from the UFC, now where does he/she go? Answer: Nowhere, and fighters already know that.”

    don’t fucking suck. nobody cries when people get cut in other sports. if you’re not good enough to fight and keep winning stop fighting. everyone can’t be in the NFL. same thing with the UFC.

  • Crichton

    Wonder how Marloes and the rest of the female fighters feel about the buyout. Not so good for their part of the sport, now is it? unless you share Dana’s head-up-his-stoneage-ass view on women fighting, anyway…

  • frickshun

    Phoenicks–>that was a quote from the BE story.

    Crichton–>Dana has said on several occasions that there’s not enough depth. There is little value (outside of Cyborg) in putting on female “superfights” when there’s no division or legitimate champ. When the time comes (if ever), he’ll have women fight. Maybe if you popped your head out of your ass, you would have heard this before.

    Shawn–>Your mother taught me how to spell surprise, I guess she never made time for you…..

    As far as this being good for the sport, it sounds just like the WFA deal where they want to block others while also stripping away any valuable talent. As a brand, Strikeforce will certainly be dissolved as soon as legally possible.

  • Crichton

    hmm, the last quote I saw from Dana on the subject was “Never.” maybe i missed him changing that opinion. where was the interview where he said that?

    *ah, found it. i stand corrected. for now, anyway.

  • agentsmith

    Those who find themselves on Dana’s blacklist almost always deserve it, and most are able to get back in his good graces if they handle it properly, and of course, rack up some wins.  Both Daley and Diaz got fired for poor behavior, so the ball is in thier court.  Barnett deserves to be put on an ice floe and banished to the Land of Misfit Fighters, so fuck him.

    As for Fedor, M-1 has already managed to wrangle a deal to run their own events on Showtime, and judging by the history of how they operate, Fedor is much more likely to either retire or fight on M-1’s own shows rather than come to the UFC.

    Strikeforce has been operated like a total shitshow, and has risen to its moderate level of success almost in spite of itself.  Bellator already operates better than they do, so in the end this will most likely be a net positive.  The best guys eventually come to the UFC, and the rest (and those who don’t want to work for Dana) go to Bellator.  The end result is both promotions get stronger talent pools, and us bloggers get to stop writing articles about what retards Strikeforce are.

  • frickshun

    ^^Agent….disagree about Strikeforce (& your heterosexuality). They were a very successful regional promotion & in Dana’s good graces……til they went after Fedor. That got them trying to expand too quickly & onto Dana’s shit list @ the same time.

    Everyone knows you’re an equinosexual.

  • FiveBoltMain

    penix hit it right on the head. No one bitches when a guy gets cut from the NFL/MLB/NBA? So why should we cry if a fighter washes out of the UFC? Either you’re good enough to hang, or you belong in the small leagues. End of story.

    And if you’re an idiot and do something to piss off the UFC, then that’s on you. That’s no different than if you piss off your boss and he cans you. You brough it on yourself.

    And those of you bitching about losing shows, the UFC did 6 free shows last year. They have 6 shows already planned through August and that doesn’t include the TUF Finale late in the year. So we didn’t lose any shows this year. So quit your bitching!

  • matthewpolly

    Pass me some of that Dana kool-aid so I can be a heartless bastard like the rest of you jackals. Just because a fighter ain’t quite good enough for the UFC, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t make a living at it. How many of you are elite at you job? And how many average?

  • shawn

    Polly: The point is that this idea that Strikeforce merging with the UFC is somehow going to prevent non-Zuffa fighters from making a living is inherently false. There are tons of minor league shows running all over the country. In addition to Bellator, you got places like the MFC, PFC, and others. These guys will still have places to ply their trade, but that doesn’t mean they have to do it in the UFC. The UFC is the mecca of the sport. If you drop 3 or 4 fights in a row, should Dana keep you on because you’re a nice guy? No, because you’ve shown you’re no longer a UFC-level talent and its back to the minors.

  • agentsmith

    @ frickshun:

    So Strikeforce was well-operated back when they were an irrelevant bushleague?  Well good for them.

  • matthewpolly

    Triple A, Double A, Single A ball–each level of the minors pays differently. Strikeforce was Triple A. Without them a number of fighters are going to get paid a whole lot less. And UFC fighters will make less because there is not a second league offering counter offers. There is a reason monopolies are illegal.

  • iamphoenix

    frick i know. i wanted to say something about that part as well. i agree with shawn because he hits me when i don’t.

    now i’m getting tired of all this stupid strikeforce talk blah blah blah.

  • shawn

    Polly: The reason monopolies are illegal has very little to do with potential employee pay. Its based on the idea that competition creates better products and forces companies to essentially compete with each other for price, meaning consumers will theoretically get higher quality products for a fair price.

    And the comparison to the different level of the minors can be made here easily. Someone like Bellator conceivably pays more than, say, the MFC, which probably pays more than CFFC. On top of that, with Strikeforce now owned by the UFC, no doubt one of these companies will step up and try to expand.

    I just think this idea that the UFC is going to start paying fighters shit now that they own Strikeforce is ridiculous. If that was the case, they would have done it long before they bought Strikeforce, as the San Jose based company wasn’t REALLY a legitimate competitor for talent. Sure, maybe for some prospects, but those guys are only making a low base pay no matter who they sign with.

    The major point here is that the UFC has an incentive to take care of these guys. The more fighters that get paid a good amount, the more fighters that are able to train full time. And the more fighters that can train full time and afford quality training means a higher quality product, which will theoretically increase Zuffa’s revenue stream in the long term. On top of that, they’re going to continue to pay the bread to the top guys because, as we’ve seen from recent numbers, the UFC brand itself is becoming less of a selling point in comparison to big name fighters.

    If this was a company like, say, EliteXC that had a history of making decisions with only short term goals in mind, then I’d be inclined to agree with you. But Dana and company have consistently made decisions with the long term in mind — and that means paying these guys appropriately. Until I see some evidence to the contrary, no way I’m switching sides on this issue.



  • Reverend Clint

    polly if you look at how much fighters are paid on ly the upper 10% of strikeforce fighters were making more than regular UFC fighters. hell the Strikeforce WMMA Champion made like $10k for her last fight, thats like TUF pay.

  • iamphoenix

    wtf is a WMMA

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    Pass me some of that Dana kool-aid so I can be a heartless bastard like the rest of you jackals. Just because a fighter ain’t quite good enough for the UFC, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t make a living at it. How many of you are elite at you job? And how many average?

    So if an basketball player isn’t good enough for the NBA he “deserves” to earn a living doing something he’s not good enough at to generate revenue just because he loves it? I love eating ice cream, and I practice all the time.  Do I deserve to earn a living doing it?  I’m even risking my health – PAY ME.

    Fighting isn’t a career, it’s something you do for fun while you’re athletic and then you fall back to an actual skill or trade.  Any fightuh who deludes themselves into thinking otherwise is making a dangerous mistake with their lives.  History and current events have shown nothing else to be the case in any combat sport.

    For the record, I’m below average at my trade (I squeeze by) – but like many jobs it does not base revenue on the entertainment factor of watching me work or how my skills compare to others.  I also know the feeling of giving up a dream for reality as I was originally gonna be an illustrator or comic artist until I found out about the comic biz movers like DC and Murvel choosing pamphlets over actual books making it a dull fucking gig IF you can be good enough to earn a living at it.  There’s even more to it, but this is only what’s pertinent to this convo.

    FTR II: I do want another two tiers in the sport – Semi-pro and amateur, but Strikeforce was neither of those.

  • frickshun

    Polly–>not that it’s relevant but I am “elite” @ my job. I’m just not elite @ anything else. I play money tourneys for beach volleyball. I’m very good locally but could never compete in the Pros. My goal is to get into playoffs to pay for the tourney. If I make any money, I consider it beer money (you guys might call it “KFC money”). I like having a real job, 2 cars, a house, etc. That is why I don’t chase the dream of a pro athlete. If these fighters choose to “chase the dream”, it’s not up to any org to ensure their standard of living. Everyone takes risks in life. Personally, I am risk averse.

    DJ–>DJ!!!!!!!! Thought you were dead.

    Also Polly–>to say UFC fighters will make less b/c of no counter-offers, this is unknown. If the UFC grows, we know pay goes up (that’s public record, no?). The question is “would a fighters pay have gone up more due to competing orgs or due to the UFC’s growth?” Also, we know from past fighters that the UFC has balked @ threats of leaving from guys like AA & Hendo. Their pay may have gone up but I doubt their sponsor money went up when walking away from the premier brand in the sport. Are you an economist or a silly liberal writer who throws cool looking kicks in NYC while wearing a suit & showing your albino skin tone?

  • agentsmith

    I’d say there’s very few guys making more in Strikeforce than they would in the UFC, presuming they could hack it in the UFC in the first place.

    Who knows what the UFC would pay Fedor at this point, but I’m pretty damn sure it’s less than what he’s making in SF on the front end via his fight purses (about $400K) plus the back end via his M-1 stake plus whatever other ends he’s raping SF in.

    Hendo made $250K with no stated win bonus when he recently beat Feijao.  When he KO’d Bisping in his last UFC fight, he made $250K including his win bonus, plus $100K for KO of the Night.  Locker-room bonuses and sponsorship earnings are unknown to us, so we’ll have to leave them out, but unless SF is slipping him some fat stacks on the side, it looks like he’d probably be better off in the UFC.  Meanwhile, Feijao made only $28K.

    By the way, Bisping himself is currently making $325K ($175+150), which in my opinion makes him the #1 most ridiculously overpaid guy on their roster, maybe even the entire sport.  Considering he’s never even challenged for a title yet, is just BARELY ranked in the top-10 (at #10), and has lost both times he fought anyone considered elite (Hendo and Wandy), I’d say he’s worth less than half that.  Dana loves his precious little UK star, I guess.

    Nick Diaz made $150K with no stated win bonus to beat up Cyborg.  Jake Shields made $150K ($75+75K) against Kampmann, so I’m guessing Diaz would stand to make about the same in the UFC.  Not sure what Shields was making in SF, but considering Diaz only recently got a raise to that amount, it was most likely less.

  • iamphoenix

    polly is stupid now i thought he was cool. you so dumb.

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    Naw Fenix, Polly couldn’t be farther from stupid with a jetpack.  I think he’s just so close to these guys and feels their draw to the Greatest Game and empathizes with their desire to earn a living as journeymen.  Even earning a living as a writer is insanely hard – and that was before the digital age.

    But dreams require sacrifice (quality of life in this case) and often end in failure which can be just as personally rewarding if the dreamer is emotionally prepared for it.  But nothing makes it easy and Polly feels for those who chose to try it and I’m glad he does. 

    It’s what makes him such a great writer and – from his voice in this discussion and others over the years – a nice human being.  Those are rare.

  • frickshun

    DJ–>I could barely understand what you were saying w/Polly’s ballzack in ur throat.

    PS: Look for me on TV this Saturday night faggots!!

  • Reverend Clint

    sorry frick id dont watch gay porn on saturdays

  • agentsmith

    ^ That’s your one day off per week, huh?

  • iamphoenix

    i don’t know if i can fit in time to masterbate to you on tv when i’m constantly masterbating your photos on facebook.

    polly isn’t dumb. i was just saying he is completely wrong about this and what does his semen taste like?

  • frickshun


  • iamphoenix

    i forgot i wrote that.