When UFC President Dana White explained a new deal with Showtime meant Strikeforce was “staying around” it left a number of fans wondering exactly what the company’s existence would entail. Now, thanks to a conference call with media, the public has some answers.
Here are a few of the numerous changes to programming and operations in general:
- Showtime will broadcast eight Strikeforce events in 2012
- The possibility of crossover fights between UFC/Strikeforce athletes remains a possibility
- All preliminary fights will be shown live on Showtime Extreme starting on January 7 with Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine
- The Strikeforce Challengers Series has been axed based in part on the new system relating to televised prelims
- Gilbert Melendez will not be joining the UFC and will continue to defend his title under the Strikeforce banner assuming he retains it this weekend
- Strikeforce will do away with the heavyweight division after the conclusion of the Grand Prix with the bout between Josh Barnett and Dan Cormier being targeted for March/April, Grand Prix winner will fight one final time on a Strikeforce broadcast before presumably joining the UFC’s roster
- Zuffa plans to add depth to all remaining divisions and crown new champions in the immediate future
MMATraining Take: On the surface it looks bad to do away with an entire division and Challengers but in truth all of today’s news appeared to be positive to me. Heavyweight is a thin division in general and one rarely featured on Strikeforce as is other than in the Grand Prix. Also, Challengers events drew very little attention whereas putting together better big shows will attract more viewers and create new stars. It will also save Strikeforce money, as ticket sales for Challengers shows were miserable at best, so the promotion won’t bleed as much money, i.e. will last longer.