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Go down, Moses

“So let it be written. So let it be done.”

Pharaoh Dana White, hallowed be his name, has expanded his empire to the edge of the known MMA universe. With a combination of cunning and cruelty he has laid waste to all that tried to stand before him. Every promotion he couldn’t bully, counter-program, sue, or trash talk over the precipice of their own incompetent management (IFL, Affliction, EliteXC), he co-opted—buying Pride, the WEC, and now Strikeforce. When this last one was struck and forced into submission, did he weep a little on the inside because there are no more worlds left to conquer? Or did he start dropping cash at the blackjack tables like a drunken Abu Dhabi prince? My vote is for the latter.

The losers in the UFC’s ascension to anti-trust levels of monopolistic control are fairly obvious and have (and I say this in the spirit of reconciliation between our two great brands) been cleverly laid out by Chris Coleman at cagepotato. It is all those who, banished from the UFC, had sought sustenance and succor under the Strikeforce banner: Frank Shamrock, Josh Barnett, Matt Lindland, Paul Daley, etcetera, etcetera. But were there any winners, aside from Dana’s ego?

Here are a few possibilities:

Nature hates a vacuum and MMA fighters hate having to negotiate only with the UFC. It’s not like they have collective bargaining rights. Bellator ain’t much, but it is all they have left for a counter-offer. Expect Bellator’s talent-level to rise. Also expect its media presence to increase. Press conferences at IFL, EliteXC, and Affliction events used to be like a Jewish Diaspora reunion at the River Zion for the surprising number of MMA journalists who had pricked Dana’s thin skin and been de-credentialed. There is no other promotion left for these lost souls to cover from ringside.

The WEC used to offer matches in every weight class before realizing their only brand-differentiating, competitive advantage was in the three Tiny Tim divisions not covered by the UFC: flyweight (125), bantamweight (135), and featherweight (145). Once the WEC had done the hard work of building up these divisions, the UFC borged the company and its Mini Me talent.

Besides the heavyweight grand prix, the only thing Strikeforce does differently than the UFC is put on the occasional female fight. In his “business as usual” exclusive interview with Ariel Helwani, the Christiane Amanpour of MMA, Dana White responded to Ariel’s do-women-have-a-future-in-the-UFC question by saying, “My big problem is there is not enough good girls out there to create a division.” Maybe “good guy” Scott Coker can prove him wrong and create a league of their own. Maybe Strikeforce morphs into the WNBA of MMA. If they do, my wife requests that they replace the ring girls with ring boys.

If not a move for gender equality (which seems highly unlikely but a fan can always hope), the purchase looks to be more about globalization. When a baffled Ariel was trying to suss out why the UFC, the Kleenex of MMA, would do anything to boost Strikeforce’s brand by keeping “business as usual” and cross-promoting it on UFC shows, Dana was enthusiast about its library and its talent, less so about its deal with Showtime. “Strikeforce does well with Showtime,” he said in a tone of voice that doesn’t bode well for its deal. But he was most juiced about its potential for helping the UFC acquire more fighters to put on more fights internationally. When Ariel asked, “Will San Jose still be the home of Strikeforce? It won’t come to Vegas?” Dana responded: “Who knows? Strikeforce could go anywhere. It could end up in Canada and other parts of the world.”

So let Canada’s hockey-developed enthusiasm for watching men punch each other in the face be a lesson to the rest of the world. Sell out a 55,000-seat stadium for the UFC and Dana White, hallowed be his name, may just buy you your very own promotion. It’s kind of like when he got the Iceman a Ferrari, only it won’t get you laid as much.

(Matthew Polly is a regular contributor to and has a book about his adventures in MMA that’s not coming out soon enough. For now, you can check out his other Fightlinker-related pennings here.)

  • CAP says:

    Maybe this will help Bellator. Are they #2 by default now? (once/if SF merges) Their format is actually set up well to be the feeder org for the big leagues.

  • Reverend Clint says:

    The UFC/Zuffa should just make Strikeforce and the Showtime stuff a feeder league or a permanent Fight Night like place.

    • Have it travel to small cities that the big UFC might miss. More Canuck areas like Alberta.
    • Base it in San jose and have maybe 2-3 huge shows a year with the big name talent that stays with it.
    • Bring over some of the stars from Japan and introduce them to a cage so they dont have to embarrass themselves in the UFC right away.
    • Make it more the every mans MMA organization, but with chicks who fight, by keeping the ticket cost low and the fights entertaining like they do with the Fight Nights.
    • Keep the Showtime deal as long as possible and for gods sake dont go PPV with it. Maybe Get some ION coverage.
    • Make the Challengers series a real way to get into Strikeforce, with actual clearly defined paths.
    • Get better announcers or hold them accountable when they suck.
  • 2wrongs says:

    When UFC bought WEC I heard a lot of people say that they thought that WEC was going to become the junior leagues of UFC. The place fan favourites would go when they lost their chin or were over the hill. People like Keith Jardine, who, a sizable minority of people still like and pay money to see (for whatever reason) but “can’t chew the leather anymore”. Or, people like Horodeki who aren’t seasoned enough to keep on the main roster anymore but have a good future and the UFC doesn’t want to loose control of. I figured that that is what Strikeforce will become.

    PS. I see that the good Reverend has beat me too it.

  • frickshun says:

    Polly–>this is not up to your usual standards. But you bring up a valid point about Bellator.

  • Letibleu says:

    I am going to catalog the enormous amount of ass kissing Barnett will begin doing. Even though for now his contract with SF will be “respected” Dana and Joe have made their view of him crystal clear in the past. Then again, here he is with me @ UFC 109 which he attended. Damn im fugly.

    Anyone following the rebirth of Elite XC? There is money behind that door if they were negotiating for 20 million + 20 million. Go go gadget Google.



  • Letibleu says:

    Almost forgot, nobody talked anything about Strikeforce Challengers. Does that go away first? If Strikeforce morphs into the UFC “B” league, I doubt they would need a “C” league.

  • frickshun says:

    Dayum Leti, what are you like 15??

  • CAP says:

    Dude I seriously thought that was a shaven Joe Silva at first!!

  • Reverend Clint says:

    Your the size of Josh Barnetts entire head

  • Letibleu says:

    I graduated high school in 1996…

  • agentsmith says:

    Barnett:  “I, for one, welcome our new bald overlord.”

  • frickshun says:

    Was Barnett on his tippy toes?

  • matthewpolly says:

    frickshun, did i lose your love?

  • frickshun says:

    It’s fleeting, Polly. I’m sure next time you write something satirical, I’ll be all over ur dick again!!

    PS: Boss finally confirmed we’re going to watch Shogun V Bones this Saturday. If ur in the building, let me know & we can grab a drink while I tell women you’re a famous blogger!! (please clean your orange Dorito-stained fingertips)