UFC Buys Strikeforce: Josh Gross Talks Pro Elite, Free Agency

I've included the video above. It's ESPN's Josh Gross giving a nice four-minute synopsis about the purchase of Strikeforce by UFC. It's a helpful primer to understand the mechanics of this complicated and frankly, bewildering deal. I'd also say the more information about the deal that is released the more it appears Coker was an unwitting partner in this transaction. More notable to me, sources have always told me Strikeforce was not running a huge profit margin, but had incurred very little to no debt. Gross' report contradicts what I've long understood to be Strikeforce's financial state.

I'll have a piece on this later, but what is clear now is that the need for a fighters' union has never been more obvious. In this written piece accompanying the above video, Gross delves into the issue:

UFC Hall of Fame fighter Randy Couture said the deal between UFC and Strikeforce "has the potential to be tougher for fighters who are free agents."

"The Strikeforce purchase strengthens and stabilizes the [UFC] brand," said the 47-year-old Couture, who fights Lyoto Machida on April 30 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto in front of an expected crowd of more than 50,000. "It solidifies Zuffa's monopoly on the sport of MMA.

"Overall it's too early to tell if it's positive or negative for the sport until we see what direction the new owners take with the brand."

Unless another organization with a strong television presence and deep pockets arrives on the scene, fighters' leverage will be determined by their talent, popularity and success. Currently, the UFC is reducing the size of its roster to create an average of 28 fighters per division, an overall decrease from 260 to around 200.

Couture famously challenged the UFC in court in 2008 over rights to his likeness as well as his earning potential. In the end, he failed to free himself and returned to the company. Long an advocate for some sort of safeguard system for the sport's athletes, Couture suggested the idea of a union or fighter association emerging as response to the UFC's firm grip over the sport is "wrought with hurdles and will be difficult to execute."

More on this story as it develops.

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