The UFC held their conference call today to talk about the purchase of Strikeforce. On the call were UFC Director of PR Dave Sholler, UFC CEO and Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC President Dana White and Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker (a bit of a surprise). There wasn't a ton of new news, so to speak, but enough to be noteworthy. Here are some of the highlights.
1. Strikeforce will adopt the Unified Rules. Translation: elbows to the head of a downed opponent are now allowed.
Strikeforce will not use Octagon, but will bring unified rules. That means Strikeforce = elbows.
2. The deal Strikeforce has with Showtime "extends to 2014". Initial reporting suggested the deal expired in 2012 and that may not be incorrect. Loretta Hunt believes the word "extends" means the deal is up in 2012, but can be extended to 2014. Given that Zuffa is likely trying to swallow Strikeforce, such an extension seems unlikely. Again, however, it should be noted that Hunt's interpretation may not be accurate.
Lorenzo Fertitta says the Showtime/Strikeforce deal extends to 2014. Doesn't square with everything I've heard.
Fertitta says Showtime deal EXTENDS into 2014, which fall in line with wat I though - the deal runs out in early 2012, and has extensions.
3. The Strikeforce heavyweight tourney final could be on pay-per-view:
White: We're open to the idea of the HWGP being on PPV.
4. Silicon Valley Sports Entertainment wanted out of the MMA business, thereby leaving Coker in a lurch:
Coker says SVSE wanted to get back to their core business. Coker wanted to stay in MMA.
5. Dana White does not seem to express much interest in women's MMA:
White: My thoughts on women MMA is the same. That's Scott's deal, not mine.
6. Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta shrug off claims of monopoly or impending anti-trust concerns. They both claim there are lots of options for fighters, although realistically in terms of maximizing value, that's not true:
Fertitta says antitrust suits aren't a concern. Claims no barrier to entry into the sport for prospective promoters.
7. There's no movement on the messaging of why the UFC is against a fighter's union:
White: A fighter's union is up to the fighters. The problem is that this isn't a team sport.
8. White was not committal about UFC and Strikeforce champs fighting one another, but in the message of delivering fans the fights they want to see, seemed to indicate it was inevitable:
Dana: Regarding champ vs. champ fights, our job is to make sure fans get fights they want to see. It's just a matter of when.
More was discussed. Coker, for example, does not have an equity stake in Zuffa. Zuffa now has more than 4,000 fights in their library and Lorenzo Fertitta said he plans to use the Strikeforce library similarly to PRIDE's. UFC will also not be counterprogramming Strikeforce any longer. Strikeforce still has sights set on Canada at some point in the future. The UFC also seems to be feeling the heat from international markets who not only want more fights, but more fights of substance. Having a greater roster of fighters, ostensibly, enables them to solve for that problem.
Other than that, though, everything is in the mix. It's just business as usual.