With the UFC’s parent company Zuffa having bought the second largest MMA promotion Strikeforce, it’s now been suggested that they now essentially hold a monopoly in the sport.
There are a number of other promotion’s out there though, albeit not of the size of either the UFC or Strikeforce, and over the past few days some of the better known one’s have been giving their thoughts on the unexpected announcement.
Bellator Fighting Championships:
Currently on their fourth season, and now airing live on MTV 2 every Saturday night, Bellator are the 3rd biggest MMA promotion in North America at this moment in time.
Unlike Strikeforce’s Scott Coker, Bellator’s CEO Bjorn Rebney has no intention of falling under the UFC’s banner in the future.
“I am a big fan of controlling one’s own destiny. It’s what got me to this point. It’s that type of control of controlling your destiny that is everything our organization is about. It’s our very, very core,” Rebney told MMAJunkie at the weekend.
As for what the deal will mean for the sport, Rebney is adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach.
“I think time will tell whether it’s good or bad overall for the industry. Competition is good for the industry. Competition ultimately breeds the best. It’s always good to have alternatives and competition, especially in a space growing as quickly as the mixed-martial-arts space is… Ultimately, only time will tell if it was a good thing for the industry.”
Maximum Fighting Championships (MFC):
MFC is a well established Canadian company who’s outspoken owner Mark Pavelich has declared in the past is intent on becoming MMA’s second biggest promotion. So how does he feel about the news?
“It affects me in a good way. I’ll do better with sponsors, better with the fighter roster…I’ll do better with everything. For me, this is good,” he tells AddictedMMA.com confidently.
In Pavelich’s opinion it won’t be long before the UFC fold Strikeforce’s roster into it’s own, despite their insistence that it’s going to be, “business as usual.”
“I think a year from now there won’t be a Strikeforce anymore. You know. No matter what they’re telling you, it’s the same plan all the time. The UFC will not have another brand out there. It’s like the WEC. It made no money. They’re doing the same thing they did with Pride, and they’ll just dissolve it.”
Like Bellator’s Bjorn Rebney, Pavelich states definitively that he would not be interested in selling his company to Zuffa, should such an offer ever come his way.
“I don’t have to co-promote because I’m not going out of business. I’m not struggling. I could never see my brand of MMA being attached to somebody else’s.”
BAMMA is the UK’s fastest rising promotion, recently securing a television deal to broadcast event live via SyFy and bringing in international stars like Paul Daley and Ricco Rodriguez to compete at their shows.
The companies Head Of Business Development Liam Fisher sees the deal as a positive, believing that it will eventually lead to more talented fighters coming BAMMA’s way.
“it’s definitely a game changer, but a positive thing for us. There’s going to be some fighters that want to work with the UFC again and this is their way to do that, but there’s also going to be some fighters that can’t or won’t work with them and this is where we come in,” Fisher tells MMAWeekly.
In fact that’s already proven to be the case. Strikeforce’s Paul Daley, who was fired from the UFC for misconduct in the Octagon last year, has already hinted that he may quit the promotion and sign for BAMMA rather than work under the Zuffa banner again.
Despite the fact that the Zuffa now appear to hold almost all the cards, Fisher still believes there’s plenty of room for BAMMA to carve their own unique niche in the market.
“None of this scares or worries us and I don’t think it puts an end to the MMA business. Strikeforce wanted the money and they took it, but that doesn’t change the sport one bit, it just means the biggest brand within the sport just got a little bit bigger, and someone got a little bit richer. Just remember, for every Microsoft there needs to be an Apple.”
So overall it’s clear that whether Strikeforce remains, or eventually merges into the UFC, there are still other promotion’s out there who are willing to take their place and continue to offer an alternative both to fans, and to fighters.