Like the news of a friend or loved one, who has succumbed to a terminal illness, you knew what was coming but you weren’t sure when. When it did happen you inevitably felt a sense of shock and questions flooded your mind.
All right sorry, maybe that was too dramatic of an analogy for the closing of a sports league, but it holds some truth. Strikeforce will cease operations after their final event in January. As a result, Ronda Rousey joins the UFC, to become the first female fighter in the league. Miesha Tate and other Strikeforce fighters will eventually be added to the roster as well.
Fans and fighters alike are overly ecstatic. And why shouldn’t they be? The fans finally get to see women and other Strikeforce fighters compete against the best in the world. The top Strikeforce fighters are happy because they now belong to the biggest combat sport industry there is. In the grand scheme of things, perhaps this is the best thing for almost everyone. But this change leaves us with questions.
Who will be recruited?
What will happen to the fighters who are not fortunate enough to pass into the UFC?
And is this really a good thing?
At the present moment, it’s hard to say who else from Strikeforce will make the cut. The UFC currently employs 341 fighters. There were 79 fighters in Strikeforce. I imagine top contenders and champs will be welcomed. But now that the UFC virtually has no competition, scores of prospects all around the globe will flock to the UFC. There aren’t going to be enough life boats to save those fighters as Strikeforce sinks.
The Strikeforce fighters that don’t make it will have a hard time. Though Strikeforce was not officially a minor league, it was often treated and thought as one. Strikeforce was that place you went if you couldn’t cut it in the UFC. But it really wasn’t, it was its own company, albeit owned by the UFC. But nobody ever compared the two. Strikeforce was just thought as that lesser version of the UFC. Now with said lesser version gone, many fighters only have so many places to go.
One could argue that Bellator will be treated the way Strikeforce was. But Bellator is set up much more differently than UFC or Strikeforce. Bellator premiers on a seasonal basis and is primarily structured around tournaments instead of scheduled fight cards. The set up is unique, but minimizes opportunities for fighters to compete and get exposure, which at the end of the day makes you a famous fighter.
I wonder if Strikeforce getting the ax is a good thing. Of course for UFC it’s a great thing. But is it good for the sport of MMA? Strikeforce was the lesser of the two major fight games, but it helped with MMA exposure. Now UFC is essentially the only fight game in town and it needs to pull some extra weight to help the sport of MMA. For MMA to reach absolute global popularity, it either needs many more leagues or for the UFC to increase its efforts. These are interesting times for MMA; I can’t wait to see what the next six months holds for the sports future.