In a move that will change the mixed martial arts industry forever, Zuffa, parent company of the UFC, has purchased Strikeforce.
The deal was announced by UFC President Dana White in an interview with MMAFighting.com on Saturday.
“It’s literally official right now,” White said in the interview about purchasing the San Jose, Calif. based promotion. “We literally just closed the deal.”
MMAWeekly.com had been told by sources a couple weeks ago that Zuffa was talking to their partners in Abu Dhabi at Flash Entertainment about funding to purchase Strikeforce. Flash owns a percentage of Zuffa, and the deal was likely marked by a financial undertow from both Zuffa and their partners in the Middle East.
Zuffa has made a move similar to this before when they purchased Pride Fighting Championships in Japan and also buying World Extreme Cagefighting a few years ago.
This move, however, may end up proving to be the biggest deal of them all, as Zuffa has now purchased the only other major MMA promotion in North America, and by far their biggest competitor.
White says the deal just came together recently, but emphasized the point that the UFC and Strikeforce will continue to run as separate entities.
“Let’s face the facts, Strikeforce is a brand that fans have come to like, that they do have a following, people enjoy the fights that they are putting on,” White stated.
In the deal, Zuffa will be the owner of the Strikeforce brand and library of fights, but the contracts of all fighters remain under the Strikeforce name and they will continue to operate “business as usual.”
White also confirmed that Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker will remain with the company in the same role as before. He will lead the promotion and have free reign to handle all fighter contracts and continue signing new deals with fighters as well.
Fighters will continue to fight under the Strikeforce banner, including Fedor Emelianenko, whose management company M-1 Global has had a volatile relationship with White and Zuffa for years. White maintains that Emelianenko will remain in Strikeforce, and they will honor all previous deals.
White stated that fighters such as Paul Daley and Josh Barnett will remain with Strikeforce and they will fulfill those contracts, but did point out that Daley will still never fight in the UFC again. What that means for his future beyond his current contract remains to be seen.
The women’s division in Strikeforce will also remain status quo according to the UFC president. He stated time and time again that everything running in the MMA promotion remains business as usual.
Strikeforce remains in a contract with Showtime for approximately two more years. White says that his partners at Zuffa will deal with them for any issues, as he has never held his tongue when talking about the cable company.
Strikeforce employees will remain “for now,” according to White, but Zuffa will lend a hand wherever help is needed, including any behind the scenes issues and production.
The deal is a landmark change in MMA as Zuffa now owns the biggest conglomerate in the fighting world. While White stated “business as usual” several times in his interview, the business of MMA is now changed forever.