SBD/March 15, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Dana White Reiterates UFC, Strikeforce Will Operate Separately, Claims Business As Usual

White says Strikeforce events will continue to air on Showtime
UFC President Dana White yesterday reiterated that UFC and Strikeforce "will continue to operate as separate organizations at least for the foreseeable future" in the wake of UFC's acquisition of the rival promotion, according to Adam Hill of the LAS VEGAS-REVIEW JOURNAL. White "did concede the likelihood of matching up the talent from the former rival organizations at some point, based on demand." White, UFC Chair & CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker yesterday "tried to push the notion of 'business as usual' for MMA fans, starting with a stacked Strikeforce card scheduled for April 9 in San Diego, with a few slight changes." White and Fertitta also said that they "plan to offer their input into Strikeforce production, which is controlled by Showtime, but in the end, decisions will remain in the hands of the network." Strikeforce's deal with Showtime "expires in 2014." Hill notes the expanded roster of fighters gained under the Strikeforce acquisition "could allow Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC, to put on more shows, particularly internationally" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/15). White and Fertitta yesterday "repeatedly emphasized that most details are not hammered out" for the deal. Fertitta: "We put this thing together in short order and we don't have all the answers yet. We're going to see how it plays out." White said, "Anything's possible and I would never say never to anything. But right now, Strikeforce is going to continue to run their shows on Showtime." ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto reports discussions between Zuffa and its new partner, Showtime, have "yet to take place." The new relationship "could conceivably open the door for the UFC to gain traction on a deal with Showtime or Strikeforce's other network partner, CBS" (ESPN.com, 3/15).

CHANGING LANDSCAPE
: YAHOO SPORTS' Dave Meltzer wrote, "Two things were clear after the news conference: One is that where Strikeforce goes from here remains a work in progress; the second was a concerted effort to push the idea the combined company does not create a monopoly in the sport of mixed martial arts." Fertitta said, "There are thousands of other promoters, thousands of other options (for fighters), plenty of competition. There's no barrier to entry. Anyone who wants can go in." White: "All you have to do is raise some cash and jump in the business, try and get a TV deal and have some big balls." But Meltzer wrote the "reality is different, at least at present," as "nearly every major star and potential legitimate championship-level fighter in the sport is now locked up and under contract to Zuffa." Both White and Fertitta "talked of running more shows in markets like Europe, Asia and Australia." Fertitta noted that there is a "demand for more shows than the company is supplying, particularly in the U.K. and Australia." But as a TV and PPV product in North America, there are "questions about whether the company is hitting the saturation point." Meanwhile, under the terms of the deal, Coker "gets a long-term contract to work for Zuffa but no ownership stake" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/14). SI.com's Steve Marrocco wrote the UFC's acquisition of Strikeforce "could provide a peek into the future of the sport's landscape." Marrocco: "For all intents and purposes, Zuffa LLC now has a monopoly -- at least until the next rival comes around and the battle starts once again. But after Saturday's sea change, I have doubts about when the UFC will have another serious competitor, if ever" (SI.com, 3/14).
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