In the biggest “holy shit” moment since, well, the last time the UFC bought out their biggest rival, Dana White and company opened up the Zuffa wallet and added Strikeforce to their collection of beaten MMA promotions. While this news caused many observers to spit out their morning coffee in surpirse, it has also caused many others to opine about the possible ramifications of the deal.
An unnamed writer over at Cage Potato seems to think this whole thing — you know, the further consolidation of top-level fighters all fighting for the same company — is inherently bad for the sport.
When the UFC took possession of Strikeforce, it instantly made the already small MMA market a lot smaller. For athletes who wish to compete at the highest level, there is now really only one place to play. For people who want to advertise their products, there is essentially now only one cage worth stamping your logo on, if they’ll let you. If you’re an agent or manager, there is simply nobody else to negotiate with and nobody to get competing bids from. If a fighter gets cut from the UFC, now where does he/she go? Answer: Nowhere, and fighters already know that.
What’s with all the gloom-and-doom? Why is the fact that there’s only one game in town a bad thing? In short, it’s not. It’s a very good thing for everybody. Well, mostly everybody.
For fighters, there will soon be no question as to who the best in the world is. Once the fighters all begin fighting for the same promotion, which I fully expect will happen as soon as Strikeforce’s Showtime deal runs out next year, there will be no arguing that a Strikeforce champion might be better than a UFC champ, or vice versa. This will give the fighters, and the fans, a sense of stability. Everyone will strive to fight in the promotion that houses the best fighters in the world, no questions asked. And with all the best fighters under one roof, the competition will only get better, meaning fighters will have to stay sharp and skilled in order to succeed. That can only result in an even higher quality of competition than fighters and fans alike are already used to.
For the agents and managers, and more importantly for the fighters’ bank accounts, the lack of a negotiating alternative doesn’t really mean much. The UFC only continues to grow, which means the company is making more money, which only means that there are more resources from which to better compensate the fighters. Instead of getting competing bids from multiple companies, UFC fighters can simply use what their colleagues are making as leverage in negotiations. The idea that the UFC is going to use it’s near-monopoly power to lowball those who go in the cage and risk it all is an irrational conspiracy theory.
More after the jump.
The only people that have to worry are those that have in some way found themsleves on the UFC’s bad side over the years. The simple solution to that is don’t piss off the people who run the industry you work in. Anyone feeling bad for people like Paul Daley and Josh Barnett have a misguided sense of logic.
Daley made a huge mistake when he tried to suckerpunch Josh Koscheck. Afterwards, he should have handled it professionally and apologized repeatedly. The smart way to handle this news would have been to simply be humble about it. Instead the guy takes to Facebook and the UG ranting like an idiot while trying to paint the UFC as the bad guy, even though he was the one who decided to suckerpunch a colleague on national television. If he wants to do the smart thing for his career and continue fighting for Zuffa after his Strikeforce contract expires, all he has to do is keep winning and keep his mouth shut. While Dana says Daley will never fight in the UFC again, that sentiment will change if Daley beats Nick Diaz and goes on a win streak. What’s good for business will always outweigh any personal animosity, as we’ve seen in this sport time and time again.
As for Barnett, he has publicly responded to this news appropriately, and that can only help his chances once his contract expires. Just like Daley, all Barnett has to do to maintain employment is to win. If he winds up winning the Strikeforce GP, the UFC will have no choice but to sign him. And if he doesn’t he’ll likely be ranked outside of the top 15 heavyweights in the world and therefore his services won’t be entirely necessary in a promotion that houses the absolute best in the world.
In sum, housing all of the best fighters under one roof is the goal we have all been waiting for. When the UFC bought Pride, similar concerns as those made by Cage Potato were raised. Yet in the years since that transaction, fighter pay has slowly but steadily increased and we’ve seen a host of superfights that we would have never seen without the buyout. If history is any indication, the sky is not falling. The quality of fights will only continue to grow, and that can only be a good thing for the fighters, the fans, and the industry as a whole.