With the recent news of the UFC buying Strikeforce, questions abound regarding what's going to happen within the next year or so with both promotions.
Will the UFC absorb all the fighters from the Strikeforce roster? Will they merge together like they did with the WEC? Will they continue to operate separately, even though they are owned by the same overlords?
Right now, it is impossible to answer those questions with any sort of confidence. All we have to go on is what Dana White has said. Whether he is being completely honest or not, we don't know. We can only speculate.
But let's take the guess work out of it and assume White is being honest. After all, plenty of rumors are floating around to support what he shared with Ariel Helwani -- that Strikeforce will continue to be run by Scott Coker and will operate as it normally does.
There's just one problem with that -- it's a preposterous idea.
There are many reasons for that, but I'm going to use a particular area of (somewhat) expertise of mine to really drive that point home.
As you may or may not know, I come from a pro wrestling background. That means I'm entirely too familiar with the myriad of similarities between it and MMA.
I'm also extremely aware of the impossible to ignore similarities between the way Dana White runs his business and the way Vince McMahon, owner of the WWE, runs his.
And this UFC acquisition of Strikeforce bears an eerie resemblance to the time World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) bought out their chief competitor in 2001, World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
McMahon was no different than White; his initial thought was to run the two promotions separately to maximize value and get the most out of his investment. He attempted as much, going so far as to giving WCW's flagship show, Monday Nitro, a prime time slot where WWE's flagship show, Monday Night RAW, typically resides.
The results were disastrous.
World Championship Wrestling operated for quite some time as the number two professional wrestling organization in the world, second only to the World Wrestling Federation, which would later become World Wrestling Entertainment.
The WWE hit a few snags in the early-to-mid 90s and WCW, under new management and with deep pockets in the form of media giant Ted Turner, swooped in and made big waves in late 1995.
Any talent that Vince McMahon and company let get away, was quickly signed and pushed into big roles with WCW, run mainly by Eric Bischoff. They did rather well with names that became stars in other organizations but were forced to do business with them on account of bad relationships with the owners and operators of WWE.
Eventually, of course, the tides turned and McMahon, being the business genius that he is, managed to climb out of the hole his company was in and overtake his competitors. So much so, that top guys within WCW wanted to move to the greener pastures of the big dogs in New York, as they say.
It wasn't long before WCW collapsed under the pressure of it's own weight and were bought out by none other than the man himself -- Mr. McMahon.
As stated previously, the initial idea was to run the two shows at the same time so as to maximize the value of the bloated roster he now had on his hands. Simply put, there were far too many "superstars" to fully service in one organization.
So they tried to run a Monday Nitro, complete with stars of WCW in a regular WWE timeslot.
And the ratings were a disaster, during a time in which ratings had never been higher for the business as a whole. The live crowd booed emphatically and the overall lesson was this -- fans would not accept a second rate promotion; even if it wasn't presented as such.
One of the main issues was the roster. A lot of the top stars in WCW refused to jump ship because of the previous issues they had with the bossman, Vince. And any stars that were left were immediately going to be perceived as second rate because, let's face it, if they were the cream of the crop, they would be with the top organization.
Which is the problem the UFC is currently facing. They absolutely can not run Strikeforce as a separate entity. Fans are entirely too educated, even in a growing sport such as this one.
They will not accept the fighters in Strikeforce as having any value because, if they did, they would be fighting for the UFC.
This was the same perception of the WEC before the larger weight classes were done away with in favor of focusing on the smaller weights.
But the WEC, after the weight class dissolution, at least had an aspect of the mixed martial arts game the UFC did not have -- smaller fighters that constantly delivered exciting fights.
Strikeforce won't have this luxury.
I see no scenario in which Strikeforce could ever run their promotion, as it stands right now, and not be perceived as second rate.
Because if they were truly worth their salt, why wouldn't they be fighting in the premier MMA promotion? Sure, some of the top notch fighters of the world will likely never make their way back but that's only because of the issues they have with Dana White.
The last point I want to touch on is this -- fans were extremely excited about the idea of WWE purchasing WCW because they wanted to see the top stars of each promotion go up against one another, not keep them separate.
It's no different here. Fans don't want to see Alistair Overeem reign supreme in the Strikeforce heavyweight division. They want to see how he will do with the sharks in the UFC.
A complete merger isn't just the best option, it's the only option. Professional wrestling taught us that.