||12-12-2011 02:03 PM
Following new Showtime deal, Strikeforce fighters 'are staying in Strikeforce'
TORONTO – UFC president Dana White recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the announcement of Strikeforce signing a contract renewal with cable partner Showtime could come as early as today.
However, for those expecting to see a greatly retooled product from the UFC's sister promotion, don't get your hopes up.
"The guys that are in Strikeforce are staying in Strikeforce," the fight executive said on Saturday. "Strikeforce lives."
That could be especially bad news for Strikeforce lightweight champion and highly ranked 155-pounder Gilbert Melendez, who puts his belt on the line this Saturday against Jorge Masvidal at "Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal" in San Diego. If victorious, Melendez was expected to move to the UFC, where he could ply his trade against other top-10 lightweight talent.
White, though, suggested Melendez's expected move no longer will happen – even though Strikeforce champions such as Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson and Alistair Overeem were moved to the UFC earlier this year.
While he suggested crossover fights won't happen, White said his role with Strikeforce will increase, though current Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker will continue to head operations.
"Gilbert Melendez and all the guys that are in the Strikeforce show and with Showtime, I will make this right," White said. "They will be happy to be there. Believe me. I've got this thing worked out. I've got it figured out. It's going to be good for everybody. It's going to be good for the fighters, it's going to be good for Showtime, and it's going to be good for Strikeforce. Trust me, I got this."
The UFC, of course, has run dual promotions before. Although purchased organizations such as PRIDE and the WFA were disbanded before a show was ever held, Zuffa held 29 shows under the WEC umbrella after the organization was acquired in late 2006. Ultimately, though, the WEC's heavier weight classes were folded into the UFC in 2009, and the organizations officially merged earlier this year.
For now, though, Strikeforce – which has promoted six Challengers shows and four Arena Series events since the Zuffa purchased it earlier this year – won't face a similar fate.
"We'll see what happens, but this thing's going to work out," White said. "We've got it dialed in, and we've got this thing figured out. I wanted to announce it and tell you guys about it today (Saturday), but it's going to be a good thing. We'll make this thing work. WEC worked. It was great. We'll make this thing work too."
I'm still a bit skeptical about the matter. A lot of the top guy's have crossed over or left and everybody's given up already. And if Melendez wins this week, who's next?