Even though Dana White has stated everything will be "business as usual," indications are that once the Showtime deal runs out, which is reportedly in two years but could be sooner, Strikeforce will fold into the UFC.
But does that mean waiting all that time for fighters to cross over?
Not necessarily. Contracts will run out before then or special circumstances may dictate that certain fighters make the move to the larger promotion.
So who can we expect to do so first? (Hint: his picture is at the top of this post)
Top five list of the first crossover fighters after the jump:
He's fought in the UFC before, a unanimous decision loss at 170-pounds to current Welterweight Champion, Georges St. Pierre. Since then, he's moved up to his more natural weight class of 185-pounds and done rather well for himself, amassing a record of 12-3-1 with various promotions. He appears first on this list because it is believed that his contract is up and he is free to move over at any time. Dana White expressed interest at a recent fan Q&A and when asked by one of his "Monkeys" on Twitter if he would fight under the Zuffa umbrella, Miller replied, "OF COURSE!" Emphasis his. "Mayhem" is a damn good fighter who is also one hell of a self-promoter. It's a match made in heaven.
2. Nick Diaz
Chief rival of Miller and current Strikeforce Welterweight Champion, Nick Diaz, could also make an early jump to the UFC. Why? Because the San Jose based promotion has long struggled to find him worthy challengers to his title. Obviously, this is an issue that would get worked out rather easily. He would also present an interesting and highly credible challenger to Georges St. Pierre, were he to stay at welterweight. If he is to move up, Diaz would easily be "in the mix," as White likes to say. He's also a prime candidate for a superfight, as fans are already clamoring for him to get a shot against GSP. Combine that with the fact that the head honcho is a pronounced fan of his and voila.
He's young, with a respectable record and has a big fan with the initials D. W. If you're noticing a pattern, it's because there is one. White has long been a fan of Lawler and his "Ruthless" style, so it's not hard to imagine he will migrate over to the UFC's muddled middleweight division. There are plenty of interesting fights for him, namely, whoever they stand across from him. He is the 185-pound version of Chris Lytle; maybe not as well-rounded but as far as excitement goes, he's up to snuff. If it makes too much sense not to do it, expect it to happen.
There are obvious issues with this choice, as Overeem likes to compete in K-1 and the UFC has never been all that keen to their contracted fighters doing work for other organizations but "The Reem" has long stated that his ultimate goal before he left the game was to fight the top guys in the UFC. What better place than here, what better time than now? And with many thinking that all hell can't stop him now, the number of interesting match-ups presented by his inclusion to the heavyweight roster are mouth-watering. As Joe Rogan quickly pointed out on his Twitter when news broke of the acquisition -- "Alistair Overeem vs. Cain Velasquez anyone?"
Despite White saying that Henderson doesn't like him, it makes sense to bring "Hendo" after his next fight, which would be the last on his contract. He says he's open to dealing with Zuffa and wouldn't mind fighting in the UFC again, so the biggest hurdle has already been overcome. And with Strikeforce now no longer controlling the market as far as salaries go, money shouldn't be too much of an issue either. That was apparently the key ingredient that sent "Dangerous" Dan over to the San Jose boys in the first place. Add it all up and it equals a move back to the UFC. As has been pointed out, after winning titles in PRIDE and Strikeforce, they were both bought out by the juggernaut that is the UFC. Can he ever win a title in that promotion? Time is ticking away.
So that's my top 5 list, Maniacs. What's yours?