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Strikeforce will die, but Showtime’s MMA dream will live on? Update: Is GLORY now a candidate?

By Zach Arnold | November 8, 2012

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So, the announcement of Ronda Rousey going to UFC was made… on TMZ. The focus now is on Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg.

As MMA Weekly’s Damon Martin puts it, “Just because Strikeforce is exiting Showtime, don’t think they are getting completely out of the MMA game.”

Given Showtime’s history, they will want to work with a turnkey operation rather than build their own promotion. Do they figure out a way to cut a deal with World Series of Fighting if NBC Sports Network/Versus cuts bait after the ratings the first show drew last weekend? I guess there’s always King of the Cage…

The last Strikeforce event on Showtime will be in January. Out with a whimper, not a bang.

The big loser? California’s fight scene (again).

Press release:

STRIKEFORCE® heads to the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Saturday, Jan. 12 with three championship fights, plus the return of Oklahoma State University star Daniel Cormier, all televised live on SHOWTIME®. With a collection of some of the best fighters in the world today, STRIKEFORCE has put together a memorable and historic card for the fans in the Sooner State.

The action-packed night includes the following bouts:

Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez (champion) vs. Pat Healy for the STRIKEFORCE lightweight title
Luke Rockhold (champion) vs. Lorenz Larkin for the STRIKEFORCE middleweight title
Nate Marquardt (champion) vs. Tarec Saffiedine for the STRIKEFORCE welterweight title
Daniel Cormier (Grand Prix champion, OSU All-American) vs. Dion Staring

“We’ve built an absolutely stacked card for Oklahoma City and the SHOWTIME viewers,” STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker said. “We have three awesome title fights featuring some of the best fighters to ever grace the STRIKEFORCE cage. Plus, we have Daniel Cormier, one of the fastest-rising heavyweight stars today, returning to his roots in Oklahoma to fight Dion Staring. January 12 is going to be a really special night.”

“The biggest stars in STRIKEFORCE are putting their titles on the line in competitive fights,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports®, “and that is precisely what fans of STRIKEFORCE on SHOWTIME have come to expect. We are excited to be part of the event.”

STRIKEFORCE® will air live on SHOWTIME® at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast), while preliminary fights will be shown live on SHOWTIME EXTREME® at 8 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on West Coast). Additional fights scheduled for the event are expected to be released shortly.

Tickets for STRIKEFORCE® go on sale to the public on Friday, November 16 at 12 p.m. CT and are priced at $150, $100, $70 and $50. Tickets are available at the Chesapeake Energy Arena box office, all Ticketmaster locations, at or 1-800-745-3000. Ticket prices will be announced in the coming days. Applicable service charges may apply.

Update: The Glory 12/2 Makuhari Messe show in Chiba has been canceled in favor of piling resources towards their New Year’s Eve event on 12/31 at Saitama Super Arena. If Glory’s going to push forward in 2013 and spend cash, Showtime may just have a partner for both MMA & kickboxing.

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 21 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

21 Responses to “Strikeforce will die, but Showtime’s MMA dream will live on? Update: Is GLORY now a candidate?”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    If you look at the last card…. It includes their biggest 4 named fighters. However, there isn’t a single great fight on the card. It is a very solid card, but I think it is easy to pick the favorites in each.

    Showtime doesn’t have much to pick from in the MMA World. Zuffa has 96% of the top fighters. Bellator has 3%. There is basically slim pickins from there.

    Perhaps Showtime will do M-1 level shows for a while, but I do not see them doing a “Championship” level card for a long time.

    As for the merger…. It will be nice to see all of the Zufffa talent in one place. Having 9 Champions will be a lot for the casual fans to handle. But now that they aren’t running a PPV in January…. And it looks like they are doing a title fight for every FOX Show (Finally)….. Those extra belts might come in handy…

    • Steve4192 says:

      Unless you are only counting guys ranked in the top five, those percentages are way off.

      Zuffa probably holds about 75% of the top 25 guys in each weight class, Bellator has about 15%, and the other 10% are scattered around in other small-fry promotions (like Aoki/Kawajiri/Fernandes in OneFC, Khalidov in KSW, and a shitload of flyweights who still haven’t been picked up by the evil empire).

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Here is a list of the non-Zuffa fighters ranked in the last Sherdog Rankings… Ben Askren, Michael Chandler, Pat Curran, Marcos Galvao, & Darrell Montague.

        Looking at Top 10 level talent…. Even if you go by Sherdog’s Rankings…. Of the 80 ranked fighters, Zuffa has 75 of 80…. Or 93.75%. And for years Sherdog has always ranked fighters outside of Zuffa much higher then they should be. Really the guys who belong there are Askren, Chandler, & Curran. Which is 96.25% towards Zuffa. Very close to my numbers.

        And really, from what we have all seen of Bellator, their quality of fighters just isn’t there. And people constantly do not give enough credit to UFC fighters who would still dominate outside of the organization but look average inside the UFC because of the level of competition.

        Even if you expand it to the Top 25…. My guess would be that Zuffa has closer to 95% of the worlds top talent, and that is just because the smaller weight classes are still shuffling around a little bit.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And as it refers to Showtime…

          Take away the UFC & Bellator talent off the table…. Those fighters are bound to FOX & SpikeTV.

          What is left for Showtime? They are basically hoping that the WSOF doesn’t get picked up by NBC Sports? The WSOF has washed up Arlovski & Torres. Showtime couold make a huge move to pick up every half decent fighters not signed to the UFC and Bellator…. And still be left with basically nothing.

          If Showtime wants to continue in MMA for the next year or two…. They will only be doing low level “Challenger” level shows. And then if Bellator does a poor job on SpikeTV, it will be competition between Zuffa & Showtime to pick up that remaining talent.

          There is nothing for Showtime in 2013.

        • nottheface says:

          looking at the traditional lightweight to heavyweight division the UFC has every top 5 fighters and all but 2 of the top 10 ten fighters out of 50 fighters.

        • RST says:

          “looking at the traditional lightweight to heavyweight division the UFC has every top 5 fighters and all but 2 of the top 10 ten fighters out of 50 fighters.”

          Yet still manages to eck out 2-3 solid cards a year.

  2. shao khan says, says:

    I would say Zuffa owns about 99.7 percent of the worlds top {male} fighters while wsof, bellator, and onefc each own approximately .1% each

    finally, they merge! now the question is, when will we see the new UFC invicta brand? maybe next summer I suppose?
    hopefully theyll keep the mat design to differentiate

  3. Weezy02 says:

    Long overdue. People can debate whether larger organizations buying up smaller ones is “good” or not but the charade of keeping them both open is finally over.

    • RST says:

      Its definitely a charade as long as their both owned by zuffa.

      Hopefully Somebody will come along with some some good scouting connections for building up some homegrown non-ufc champions.

      I know they’re out there in eastern europe and brazil and japan.

      UFC has the money to cherry pick after other people discover them, but ufc’s own in house scouting never seemed so impressive IMO.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        The only 2 UFC Champs not yo get their big break in the UFC are Rousey and Silva.

        I would say those other 7 Champions are proof that Zuffa has the best scouts in the sport.

  4. The Judge says:

    An uninspiring card, featuring their four remaining big names–but not in matches against similar quality opposition.
    I can’t say I expect much more from a going-out-of-business promotion. I will just close my eyes and look forward to Dos Santos-Cain II and other fights that matter.

  5. Alan Conceicao says:

    Even bad MMA can get an audience still at a low price. By the same token, I think they’ve long since made the call to invest more money into boxing rather than MMA and I don’t expect them to spend $1 million on a card every again. Probably that might be a whole year’s budget.

    • The Judge says:

      But is this really about spending money? I am not sure they could put on a much better card, even if they tried. I would want to see Cormier vs. Werdum, but UFC seems to have blocked that one. Divisions are kind of empty, and Rousey is now UFC.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      It makes sense for Showtime to invest either all or the majority of the MMA money into Boxing right now. They own part of the boxing landscape. They lost the piece of the MMA Pie when Zuffa purchased Strikeforce.

      If Showtime is serious about MMA, they would have to increase their budget even more then the Scott Coker days in order to keep the company afloat and not risk a buyout. And that is just not going to happen.

      Think of it like this. EliteXC started in February 2007. 6 years later, Showtime is forced to start from scratch. Any competent executive would cut his losses and concentrate on boxing.

      That is a lot of money spent to basically just became a feeder system to Zuffa.

      • Tomer says:

        Particularly since Showtime has one of the two major promotional powerbrokers in Golden Boy Promotions (which Stephen Espinoza, the Showtime Sports President was counsel for) and the most powerful manager in the sport (Al Haymon) in their court whereas Strikeforce is table scraps and the rest of the MMA landscape outside of the Zuffa promotion and a few token guys in maybe Bellator is pretty putrid.

        In the end, Showtime wants the subscribers to recoup their investment and for ROI purposes, they’re much more likely to succeed with Boxing than with MMA at this point (and more-than-likely for the forseeable future). A totally expected end game is for Showtime to cut the MMA out and splurge more on Boxing.

    • RST says:

      ufc owns sf now and have withdrawn all support for it.

      Who’s going to run it?


      he’s a zuffa shineboy now.

      SF was been a political nightmare from the start, and it only got worse when zuffa got involved.

  6. O.T. says:

    Showtime Sports mainly competes against HBO Sports. In turn, Showtime may be concerned that HBO might start broadcasting MMA. If that is the case, it may be a good idea for Showtime to continue broadcasting MMA and possibly include kickboxing on the channel.

    • RST says:

      “…MMA and possibly include kickboxing on the channel.”

      I’d like to see that.

      Showtime did take MMA when HBO wouldn’t.
      so I’d like to see them stay in the game (without zuffa) and I’d support it.

    • Megatherium says:

      Kickboxing would look great on Showtime. I`d be interested to watch fighting on tv again.

  7. Dave says:

    I’m really not sure that Glory and Showtime will work together any time soon. I’m not saying that it is completely out of the picture, but they would have some serious work to do to make their shows profitable in the first place, or even have them draw crowds. Not sure Showtime wants to air empty arena cards from Russia.

  8. The Gaijin says:

    Woah – Rich Franklin – woof.


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