UFC President Dana White recently sat down with Forbes' Sports Money program to talk the growth of UFC, the sport of mixed martial arts and what the future holds for both. The talk covers a number of topics, most notably with White discussing selling shares of the company to Flash Entertainment, the potential of ever going public, potential revenues in three-year time frame and much more. That isn't what this post is about, as important as those topics may be. Rather, I'd like to home in on his comments about the purchase of Strikeforce.
White notes what he and Zuffa looks for when purchasing rival organizations: a strong library of fights, a credible stable of fighters, television deals and decent brand recognition. Clearly under those criteria Strikeforce fit the bill.
From previous statements, you'd surmise White and Zuffa are interested in keeping Strikeforce alive as long as humanly possible with the intentions of folding the organization provided there were sufficient roadblocks to growth. Read these comments from White, however, and tell me if you get the sense that White wants to keep Strikeforce alive as chief priority. I tend to think not. Very much not. Emphasis mine:
"We're going to try to run this thing separately, and we'll see how it goes"
"We'll see if we can pull it off, if we can make it happen"
"If it didn't happen the worst case scenario that happens if we own Strikeforce is these guys roll over into the UFC".
If we can? We'll see how it goes? Does that sound like unequivocal Dana White to you?
I don't know if Zuffa is trying to keep Strikeforce alive for purposes of living out the Showtime contracts or if they wish to avoid being perceived as a monopoly. Either way, it's hard to walk away after watching this video with the impression White is behind the Strikeforce brand in the customary way White is fervently behind other projects or ideas.
Even the "worst-case scenario" description from White sounds more like a set-up for a take down than a commitment to seeing the brand through thick and thin.
Let me be clear about this: Zuffa and White are free to do whatever they care to with the Strikeforce brand. It's theirs and they need no one's permission to make any changes or dissolve the brand outright. I, personally, have no attachment to the Strikeforce brand. Whatever they choose to do with it is fine. I'm simply underscoring the tentative nature of commitment about the future of Strikeforce in White's public comments.