Is the future UFC vs. Strikeforce?
April 10, 2011
After last night’s Strikeforce event, it is evident that the future of the company will include the UFC.
The event on Showtime actively promoted the UFC including the upcoming showdown at UFC 129 between GSP vs. Jake Shields. In post-fight interviews, Gus Johnson asked leading questions of Gilbert Melendez and Nick Diaz about whether fights against its UFC champion counterparts. Melendez called for a unification bout while Diaz was noncommittal.
Via MMA Junkie:
MMA pundits immediately pitted the night’s winners against their UFC counterparts, but even with the two promotions now under one umbrella, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker warned fans to maintain their patience – but to expect great things in the very near future.
Scott Coker via MMA Fighting:
According to Coker, the contracts in place aren’t standing in the way, nor is Strikeforce’s relationship with Showtime. As for whether these cross-promotional fights will take place on a UFC pay-per-view or on Showtime, however, is still “something that we’ll have to work out,” he said.
Coker is bullish on the cross-over fights although nothing definitive has been discussed. Yet, the openness between the two organizations begs the questions of when, not if fights will happen.
A fan poll last night conducted by Showtime during the fights indicated that almost everyone (96% at last count) wants to see UFC vs. Strikeforce. In addition, Gilbert Melendez calling to unify the lightweight titles in his post-fight interview fueled the fire for the cross-over happening sooner than later. Melendez is dominating his division in Strikeforce and a step up in class would attract many fans. Melendez vs. BJ Penn? Melendez vs. Maynard/Edgar winner? Melendez vs. Anthony Pettis?
It will be interesting how Zuffa handles this considering the “business as usual” mantra it has preached since the initial purchase. If last night’s presentation was any indication, the Strikeforce brand is being minimized. It seemed that the UFC, especially UFC 129 (e.g., the improv Jake Shields interview) was pushed more than Strikeforce during last night’s event.