Jason 'Mayhem' Miller's UFC Signing Devalues Strikeforce Brand, Roster

via i741.photobucket.com

Jason Miller, former Strikeforce middleweight contender and host of MTV's 'Bully Beatdown' had a change of heart. Now that his Strikeforce contract is expired, Miller has apparently signed with the UFC. To wit:

The popular middleweight has signed a new multi-fight agreement with the organization, Miller's manager Ryan Parsons confirmed with MMA Fighting.

The 30-year-old Miller (24-7, 1 NC) was able to sign with the UFC due to the fact that his contract with Strikeforce had expired. No word just yet on when his first fight back inside the Octagon will take place.

"Mayhem" had not competed for Strikeforce since last April when he defeated Tim Stout on the undercard of Strikeforce: Nashville. He went on to defeat one of his MMA idols, Kazushi Sakuraba, at DREAM.16 in September, which stands as his last fight to date.

He was close to returning to action against the likes of Nick Diaz and Tim Kennedy, but for various reasons, some even still unknown, those fights never materialized.

It's fine news for Miller, the UFC's middleweight division and UFC fans. But it speaks to something I've been mentioning since the UFC's purchase of Strikeforce: how is Strikeforce going to maintain roster integrity?

Think about this for a moment. Can anyone recall WEC lightweights who moved up to the UFC after a stint in the WEC before the brands merged? The notion Strikeforce and the UFC are owned by the same company and yet competing for talent is plainly incoherent.

As true competitors, there are reasons to have signed with Strikeforce despite its size. For fighters like Alistair Overeem or Muhammed Lawal, the freedom to move between weight classes or fight abroad made signing with Strikeforce an attractive proposition. Fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, who felt UFC's contract was onerous or didn't prefer whatever terms they demanded, could sign with Strikeforce to better meet their needs. 

But now what is the value add? Strikeforce is still a less exposed brand even with Zuffa's marketing machine, now with fewer contenders. Existing contracts that still provide certain freedoms to fighters are still in play, but it's not even clear the UFC will allow that to continue. And with the declining Japanese market combined with the increased exposure and monetary returns fighting in the UFC offers, is there really a compelling reason to sign with Strikeforce?

With pressure on the UFC to have Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez be tested against elite UFC lightweights or Nick Diaz to face Georges St. Pierre, the coherence of Strikeforce as an entity in under assault. Miller's signing only further underscores the dubious proposition Strikeforce, in its current form, offers fighters or the sport itself.

As the integrity of the roster crumbles by having top talent slowly bleed into the UFC, the idea that fighters will want to sign with Strikeforve over the UFC or that it's even a brand to keep alive will slowly fade. If there are contracts in place that have to be maintained, then there's little the UFC can do but wait. Wait they will, though. The trajectory is clear: the future of Strikeforce is no future at all.

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