Analysis of substance is beginning to emerge. It is simply staggering the amount of issues that have to unpacked here. We'll continue to provide analysis, but the readers should be mindful of how this will change as details of the deal come to light. Regardless, here is more to consider.
It strengthens Zuffa’s position in the global TV market.
One of the conundrums for the UFC is that it does not make sense to have two world champions in the same division under the same umbrella organisation.
The UFC have always said that there is only one champion in a limited number of divisions, that (pre-WEC merger) there were only five UFC champions, and at that, the real champions.
Arguably, given that problem with dual world champions, maybe Strikeforce should have a super-middleweight division with the likes of Dan Henderson, and a new roster of fighters such as Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping and others who are not big enough to be light-heavyweights in the UFC.
In Strikeforce, perhaps they should consider having just Grand Prix champions, and women’s divisions, so they stay as a separate entity. Or arguably, a feeder organisation.
One answer could be twelve Strikeforce events a year for women’s title fights and for men’s Grand Prix titles. That way, it would give Strikeforce a chance to have their own identity separate from the UFC, and not just have B-listers as a feeder fighting organisation.
It is not bad in any sense for MMA globally. The UFC will still need smaller organisations like Bellator and BAMMA for prospects to come through, just as Formula 1 needs Formula 2 and Formula 3. The winner of F1, is the ultimate racing driving champion.
The winners in this deal are fairly obvious, but not everyone makes it out ahead. BloodyElbow.com's Jonathan Snowden compiles a list of who loses here:
The Fighters: Dana White claims that it is business as usual. That the UFC and Strikeforce will continue bidding against each other for top free agents. No one in their right mind believes it. This move will put increasing fighter salaries into the UFC's hands, stagnating growth. There is no more open market at the top level of the sport.
Frank Shamrock and Pat Miletich: Two Strikeforce announcers, two long term beefs with UFC President Dana White. Their contracts are with Showtime. Of course, that only protects them as long as Zuffa and the pay cable network are in business together.
Josh Barnett and Paul Daley: Two more Dana White enemies. Right now they are protected by contract. But when those deals expire, I expect them to be shown the door. Barnett is White's least favorite fighter, stemming from an ugly dispute after Barnett tested positive for steroids early in the Zuffa years. Daley is the poster boy for classless cheapshots. Both should be very afraid.
Showtime: No one is saying for sure, but there are already rumors flying that the UFC plans to close Strikeforce once the TV contract runs its course. White was already discussing the deal as a way to add fighters to his growing promotion. Will he really promote under two banners, despite the lessons learned with the WEC? Showtime will be in the strange spot of promoting and building fighters that will inevitably end up with the competition.
Another thought to consider: what does this mean for the UFC's alleged impending deal with NBC? With CBS, Showtime and Spike under the Viacom umbrella, is this move solidifying the UFC-Viacom partnership or an asset acquisition designed to woo a reluctant NBC-Comcast?
One also wonders what this means for a potential Strikeforce pay-per-view. I suspect those plans are on ice. Pushing that heavy a price tag on consumers would be difficult regardless and borderline highway robbery now that Strikeforce is part of the Zuffa stable.