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I think it’s safe to say that any promotion purchased by the UFC’s parent company, Zuffa LLC, will eventually be downsized, stripped of its top fighters, then promptly boarded up and forgotten. The signs were all there when Zuffa purchased Strikeforce in March of 2011 and abruptly closed the heavyweight division and brought over its fighters to the UFC, plus other top prospects in other weight classes as well.
Boasting a stacked roster of top ranked mixed martial artists at one point, Strikeforce found themselves faced with the impossible task of filling the gap in talent left behind by the likes of Jason Miller, Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem and Cung Le.
Even though other top draws such as Luke Rockhold and Gilbert Melendez remained behind, the fate of other major promotions on the losing end of a UFC take over such as the WEC and Pride FC was becoming more self-evident as talks of Strikeforce’s eventual collapse began circulating throughout the MMA world as two of the promotions final three events were canceled when their remaining stars became injured, or were left without a fight.
Showtime secured the final nail in the coffin by ending their relationship with Strikeforce, dooming the organization by stripping them of their home network.
Theories predicting the death of Strikeforce can be found all over the cyber world. In fact, strong predictions along these lines were voiced the moment Zuffa announced the purchase.
Now there can only be one NFL, one MLB, one NBA, and unfortunately for smaller MMA promotions around the world, only one UFC. The sport of MMA, as a whole, needs to harbor one place for top talent to compete, without barriers or red tape to dilute the level of competition, vicariously lessening the quality of competition in any given match, at the highest level.
That’s why Strikeforce not only was doomed to fail while it competed with the UFC, but more importantly needed to close its doors for the betterment of the sport.
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Looking ahead, a new number one contender in Bellator has been making moves in the world of MMA as they have been buying up talent left behind by the UFC, or simply building it on their own. With the recent controversy over Eddie Alvarez’s contract, it’s apparent that more growing pains are in order for a sport which, comparatively to other National and International pastimes, still inside infancy.
Alvarez simply finished his contract with Bellator, then as expected, the UFC offered him one of their own, and Bellator countered by matching the contract the UFC had signed which was their right as per the contract signed with their fighter, Alvarez.
Alvarez looked at both contracts and chose to join the UFC. Unfortunately for him and the entire sport of MMA, Bellator President Bjorn Rebney is apparently suing Alvarez since he believes his company had met the UFC’s contract since he simply crossed off the UFC’s name on the one they submitted and added Bellator’s.
This whole ordeal proves that Bellator is setting their sights on competing with the UFC which is their right. It’s just not realistic. At the end of business in this sport, their will only be one true super bowl of MMA and unfortunately for anyone other than the UFC, it seems that role has been filled and is here to stay.
The UFC is where the best in the world will end up while the sport of MMA exists. I challenge anyone to argue anything to the contrary at this point. Luckily for Bellator, they have established themselves as a strong second tier MMA organization and they should run with that format.
They were always going to lose the Eddie Alvarez’s and the Hector Lombard’s of the world. Simply put, Bellator is on Spike TV while the UFC is hosted by FOX, plus hands out fight bonuses to its fighters and includes pay-per-view cards at least once a month, of which provides some more financial padding at times for top draws. Point in fact, Alvarez was also offered an immediate title shot in the UFC, of which would have given him far more perks in his career than anything offered to fighters in modern combat sports today.
If it’s still unclear to anyone out there on why simply matching the numbers of a UFC contract is not enough for a fighter who has a short time to make money in his competitive fighting career, think about this fact. If a fighter has the letters UFC on his gloves, his credibility and future fight purses inside and out of the UFC will forever be changed for the better. It’s pretty much the place to be and everyone knows it.
But that doesn’t mean Bellator can’t lock fighters in to long contracts initially in their career and use the massive network of events they have created on an international level to run a successful business in the world of MMA.
They are a perfect farm camp for potential top talent and a great home for mid-level fighters at that. As long as they realize this opportunity and avoid competing directly with the UFC, then they should be around for a long time.
In fact, the longer they stick around during the early years of the sport, the stronger their brand will become in the same way the UFC’s has evolved with time. Through invoking a little imagination, they may flourish one day and wind up challenging the UFC for the right to claim the number one spot in MMA. That’s if they don’t get bought out like many of their peers have been lately.
If anyone doesn’t think Bellator is worth it’s weight in gold, watch Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler in the video below.
Video courtesy of BellatorMMA