Yesterday, I took a nap and woke up to 2 text messages. One was from a female friend saying that she was hungover and wasn’t going out last night with me. The next text message was from a buddy from college saying: “UFC just bought Strikeforce.” I expected the first text message but the second message shook me (No Tsumani/earthquake jokes right now, please).
I was legit shocked that Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the UFC and WEC, bought Strikeforce. This has been the 2nd time (or 3rd if you really count Tom Atencio and Affliction) that the UFC has bought their own competition (1st one was Pride Fighting Championships). As soon as I heard about this news and I immediatley thought: The UFC is the next great American monopoly and America has no problem with it at all. Here is why.
America loves one single league for their sports events.
Whether it is the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA, NASCAR, UFC even pro-wrestling with the WWE; Americans are conditioned to watching only one league or product that will be the main source of their own sports entertainment. There has been many instances where another league tries to compete against the establishment and sometimes builds some success. Examples have been the ABA in the basketball, the AFL & USFL in football, the negro leagues in baseball, and WCW in wrestling; which all of these entities fell to the same fate. That fate was that their main competition either bought them out, absolved them, or just raped them of their talent. It is only the systematic way that American companies do business because America was founded on…. simply buying or absolving the land of the Native American people. The divide and conquer system is the way to go in America and if you don’t live by this creed, your company will probably see the same fate that Strikeforce saw.
With that being said, I shouldn’t have been shocked that the UFC buying Strikeforce. But I was, so shoot me for it.
But the bigger issue is how did the UFC become this monopoly through mixed martial arts? Mixed Martial Arts has been criticized as low level boxing and nothing but pro-wrestling with real fights by novices and complete ignorant people. Mixed Martial Arts is the closest thing you will see to a real fight in the streets but has the athletic competition that leaves pro-wrestling and tough man competitions in the dust. The sport’s only similarity is boxing and the sport has had more success lately on a consistent basis compared to boxing. Boxing has not been the same since the expansion of weight classes and the sanctioning bodies across the globe. Dana White and the Fertitta Brothers (Lorenzo and Frank) have the made the conscience decision to go the route of the UFC being an the organization and brand of the sport, not just the promoters.
Other promoters in MMA, boxing, or even club/party promoting just spread the word as the stars of the event are the main attraction. What the NBA, NFL, and the UFC like any other major sporting league is put the league and the event first. Sure there are stars in all of these leagues but the main factor is that these leagues will last longer than the stars will ever be (Even the UFC, who are 2 years away from closing in on 20 years of business – 20 YEARS!) and the audience will always gravitate towards the head figure of the league or even the major company. Bud Selig and Gary Bettman are not looked favorable because they do not rule with a iron fist unlike White, David Stern, and Roger Goodell. When there is one central figure leading the league with strong moves, the sports product looks more proven to the public. I could bet that most sports fans could not pick out of a lineup who Bill France is but I could bet if Dana White walked into a NASCAR race, the fans would go wild because of what his sports league represents.
Here is Dana White’s interview with Ariel Helwani about the purchase of Strikeforce