UFC

Strikeforce to hold final card on Showtime

Nate Marquardt warms up backstage
Nate Marquardt is set to face Tarec Saffedine on last Showtime card.
Inside Fights Scott Sawitz
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The big news Thursday night is that Strikeforce’s deal with Showtime is apparently coming to an end. In a joint press release Showtime and Strikeforce announced that this January’s card, headlined by Nate Marquardt defending the welterweight title against Tarec Saffiedine, will be the final held on Showtime. While there’s no confirmation that Strikeforce itself is dead and buried as a company as of this moment — and epitaphs for the company can’t be written quite yet — the future is uncertain. What happens next? We can only speculate.

The future is cloudy for the organization and for good reason; the bulk of its premier talent migrated to the UFC and has been there a while now. Nick Diaz and Alistair Overeem, who should’ve been the two biggest pieces for Strikeforce in the Zuffa era of its ownership, have long since been UFC contracted fighters. Further weakening the company was the talent raid of the heavyweight division, which made the UFC home to all of the elite heavyweight fighters in the world for the first time in MMA history. Ronda Rousey, the one shining star who emerged from the Challengers series to become one of the more popular fighters of either gender, is now the UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion and the Octagon will house women for the first time in its storied history.

Strikeforce managed to find a niche on Showtime and could possibly do so on another willing network. While financially it wouldn’t be as lucrative as the Showtime deal, which allowed poorly-drawing shows to remain profitable despite poor attendance in both numbers and gate receipts, there is perhaps money to be made with the Zuffa property elsewhere.

On the other side, with Showtime no longer being affiliated with Zuffa it’ll be a chance for someone else to come in. Showtime could bring in Invicta and/or the World Series of Fighting to replace Strikeforce (and most likely at a lesser cost) and keep MMA on the pay cable channel. This would help the non-UFC fighters make a better living, which is never a bad thing. Also, competition for the UFC always brings out their best.

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Speaking of competition, if Rousey made the transition from Strikeforce to the UFC, one would imagine that homes for Gilbert Melendez, Nate Marquardt, Luke Rockhold, Josh Thomson and other elite fighters languishing in Strikeforce could soon follow. Without a television deal it’s hard to think that Zuffa won’t find a way to keep elite fighters in the spotlight. Dana White and the UFC have always found ways to bring the best into the fold and there’s plenty of money to be made off of fresh matchups in nearly every significant division. If this is done, the UFC will truly be the home of 99 percent of the best fighters in the world outside the few elite fighters that aren’t in the company yet like Bellator’s Ben Askren and Michael Chandler, for example.

There’s almost an embarrassment of riches within Zuffa already that’ll only be bulked up by having more elite fighters able to step in and support cards that have been thinned out by the sheer volume of shows.

Is Strikeforce done? We don’t know right now and so far no one is going on the record saying so. But the end of Strikeforce on Showtime could mean the landscape of MMA will be shaken up a bit, which is never a bad thing.
 

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