Zuffa, LLC Buys Strikeforce

Posted: March 15, 2011 in Marketing, PR, Strikeforce, UFC

Big news dropped this weekend. BIG. So big  it has taken me a few more days than I thought I would need to put my thoughts together on the subject. On Saturday, March 12 2011, the parent company to the UFC, Zuffa, LLC purchased its top competitor Strikeforce.

MMA reporter Ariel Helwani received the exclusive news which can be viewed here.  The long and short of the interview stated that in the interim, Strikeforce will remain a separate brand from the UFC and all of its fighter/vendor contracts will be honored.

This news is huge for everyone involved, especially the fans.  With the purchase of its top competitor, Dana White has essentially become “The Vince McMahon” of MMA.   Now, let’s be clear: you know my stance, MMA is not pro wrestling.

However, this move is almost the same one McMahon employed when he crushed the pro wrestling world with the purchases of WCW and ECW.  He removed the competition, expanded his brand, expanded his media portfolio and built an almost limitless pool of talent.  Similarly, Zuffa has now done the same.  As the WWE is pro wrestling, UFC is now to Pro MMA.  The UFC was always the clear leader, but now it is THE only true source (Sorry Bellator, but its true).

For the next few months we will certainly hear the pros and cons of this deal battered around by all sides.  But in here and now we can be sure of the following:

  • The UFC is now THE owner of the world’s largest library of MMA content.  This in itself makes the deal worthwhile for Zuffa.  They now own all video content for UFC, WEC, Pride, Strikeforce and any organizations these entities acquired before coming under the Zuffa umbrella.  If you need a clip or want to watch a classic fight, there is really only one home for it.
  • The UFC now has the talent necessary to keep shows going non-stop. The UFC has been pushing the envelope in terms of programming. With anywhere from 1-3 cards in a given month, the UFC runs the risk of overusing fighters and risking injury.  Now, they will have a larger pool of talent to work with in order to maximize reach without hurting brand strength or fighter health.  If the UFC was going to reach its goal of expanding further into the international stage, more fighters were a necessary component of the mission.
  • A potential “Minor League” for MMA can now exist. I won’t fool myself and say the Strikeforce brand will exist forever.  I think ultimately, like the WEC it will fold into the UFC for branding consistency.  The separate brands will exist so long as contracts are in play. Once those end, so does the brand.  However, it does give Zuffa the chance to create its “warm up” league to develop talent until they are ready for “the big show” and the Octagon.  You would no longer need to worry about fighters going from small venues in an Elks club to the bright lights of Vegas.
  • The UFC now has an expanded Rolodex of partners, advertisers and broadcasters. By making the investment into Strikeforce the UFC has expanded an already powerful business engine.  With Strikeforce’s talent also comes a slew of new advertisers, business partners, talent scouts and broadcast opportunities.  The UFC already has deals with SPIKE, ION, and Vs.  Now with this deal it also has a back door into CBS and Showtime.  Now I don’t think Showtime brings any real value to MMA, but CBS – that could be interesting.
  • Strikeforce will finally feel the power of a true marketing engine. My biggest beef with Strikeforce was always the business model (find & promote  old UFC fighters) and frankly, piss-poor marketing efforts.  Now with Zuffa behind it, the brand may actually get the “push” it never had before.  The ads/programs will now have that polished and professional feel of a Zuffa product.  Think about that.  If you watch Strikeforce it always felt “bush league” in presentation.  That won’t be the case anymore.  Also, you’ll now also have UFC advertising to push programs (banners on the site, articles focusing on upcoming fights, commercials during PPVs or TUF, etc).

This will likely be my only post of the week. I have some traveling to do for the ol’ 9-5 so this site will be a bit light in terms of content. However, my mind will be thinking about what else this deal means for MMA and its fans.

At the very least I need a new gimmick for this site – The Big 3 Series just got killed….

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Comments
  1. I know I know – pro wrestling is not MMA. But, how great would it be if Dan “Hollywood” Henderson came out for his cage walk to Hendrick’s song strumming his nWo spray painted Strikeforce belt for his next UFC bout? Think about it.

  2. The sun never sets on Dana White’s empire.

  3. Charlie Sheen jokes are going to have a shelf life similar to M.C. Hammer style pants so I need to get em in now while the gettin’s good 😉 Can we agree that Dana White possesses tiger blood?

  4. […] the resources and backing of Zuffa, the Strikeforce marketing equation appears to be back in use:  1 star + 1 former star = main […]

  5. […] and what kind of footage they can offer (because we know the UFC has a stranglehold on the world’s largest MMA database now). You’ll notice I’m not even touching the movies part of the description…no good can come […]

  6. […] end for Strikeforce has been predicted for quite some time. For many of us it was only a matter of “when.”  […]

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