To say Zuffa's post-acquisition ownership of Strikeforce hasn't gone according to plan would be a major understatement.
UFC president Dana White was extremely enthusiastic when talking about his role with Strikeforce, promising that he had big plans for the promotion to help lift it up to be seen in a light similar to the UFC.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.
White is used to being able to call the shots, or at least have a television partner that is on the same wavelength as he is. That didn’t happen with Strikeforce.
Strikeforce was already locked into a television deal with Showtime, and that deal didn’t allow for White to operate the way he wanted to.
He’s been mum on much of the details of his relationship with Showtime, but suffice it say, it wasn’t good and when that went south, so did the prospects for Strikeforce as a competitive promotion.
The bottom fell out and Strikeforce started tumbling and bumbling towards extinction, which comes on Jan. 12, when the promotion is slated to operate its final event and shut its doors.
As much as we always focus on the promotion itself closing down, like what happened with Pride, the WEC, and others, there are real people behind those promotions, in particular, the fighters that are the core of the product.
As disappointed as White has been about Strikeforce’s downfall and the missed opportunities as a business, where the situation really hits home for him is with the fighters that had to suffer through month after tumultuous month of wondering what was happening with their employer.
“What’s happened to those guys over in Strikeforce, it’s terrible. It’s really bad what happened to them over there and it makes me sick,” said White recently.
When he fell out with Showtime officials, White removed himself from the situation almost entirely, but he still feels a strong sense of responsibility towards the fighters that suffered through the situation.
“I should probably sit down with all of them,” he said. “I apologize for everything that’s gone on for the last eight months. I’m really disgusted by it.”
The UFC has scooped up several other fight promotions over the years, each with its own baggage and complications. Some have been more successful than others.
Pride never ran another event after the UFC’s purchase, the company running into numerous stumbling blocks with the way fight promotion’s operate in Japan and with the people that entangled the Pride operations.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was World Extreme Cagefighting, which continued to operate as a separate entity with a degree of success. The WEC’s crowning achievement, however, was expanding the prominence of the lower weight classes in mixed martial arts and eventually folding into the UFC, expanding its roster.
What happened with Strikeforce was an entirely different level of frustration for White, who still won’t reveal the details of his frustration, other than to acknowledge it had to do with the Showtime relationship.
It’s been a long, torturous lesson, but White takes it for what it’s worth, lesson learned.
“It won’t happen again; (expletive) is over now.”
Check out what Dana White had to say about the downfall of Strikeforce following the UFC 155 post-fight press conference…