We all know how MMA has grown leaps and bounds ever since Forrest and Bonnar put on the show of a lifetime live on SpikeTV several years back. That epic battle opened the flood gates for what is quickly becoming more and more of a mainstream sport. The UFC has purchased several companies to grow their brand and squash competition. Pride FC, WEC, etc fell by the waistside... then came Strikeforce...
Strikeforce grew quickly both in popularity and name recognition.
The UFC, however, made the move and purchased Strikeforce a couple months ago. Now, there is talk left and right about Strikeforce fighters fighting UFC fighters and vice versa. Scott Coker has said in the next 8-12 months, we may see the first crossovers. This puts us right at the beginning of 2012. There is talk about it happening sooner, but my opinion is that this will not come to fruition.
UFC vs Strikeforce will never happen. Strikeforce champion vs UFC champion will never happen. It just doesn't make sense. Gilbert Melendez was amazing last night, so lets use him as the example. We all want to see him fight the best of the best in the UFC. So let's say Gil gets his shot at the winner of Edgar-Maynard, lets say Edgar for argument's sake. Melendez the SF champ vs Edgar the UFC champ. What a fight it would be, but lets look at it legistically.
Does it take place on Showtime? PPV? a UFC card? a SF card? If Melendez wins, is he the SF champ and the UFC champ? if so, does he defend them both seperately? If not, and Edgar remains UFC champ, what meaning does that belt have? World champ? Nope!
We all want to see Superfights, but at what cost will they be made? The UFC will not do anything to dilute their brand and why would they? They have worked incredibly hard to build the UFC as well as the sport of MMA into what it is today... the sport we all love. Cross promoting with Strikeforce doesn't make sense.
That being said, keeping them as seperate entities doesn't make sense either because fans will grow restless very quickly, calling out for Overeem vs UFC heavyweights, Diaz vs UFC welterweights, etc.
So when Showtime and Strikeforce are no longer contractually obligated (2012), I see 2 options:
1. Strikeforce ceases to exist and Coker is brought on the UFC team to continue working to build this sport globally. All Strikeforce fighters are now UFC fighters and there are rampant cuts made. Imagine how stacked the lightweight division would be, but its real trouble if you lose a couple fights. I like this possibility because of the dream matchups that could be the result, but can we have all the superfights without the massive roster cuts? To quote our president... Yes We Can...
2. The UFC picks and chooses which Strikeforce fighters it wants and all the top names are under the same umbrella for the first time ever, resulting in superfights on every card all year. Overeem vs Velasquez, Hendo vs Bones, Jacare vs Silva, Diaz vs GSP, and so on. In this scenario, however, Strikeforce remains in tact as the minor leagues to the UFC. Much how triple A baseball is to MLB. Imagine a place for the TUF grads to start out before being thrown to the wolves in the UFC, other than the winner of course. At the same time, you have guys like Lashley, Cung Le, Scott Smith, and others remain in Strikeforce. Now, though, those cut by the UFC can remain under the Zuffa banner by being sent to Strikeforce. Dan Hardy is a perfect example. People still want to see him fight. Send him to SF. Have him try tro work his way back up against some young up and comers. This is the best way, and my favorite option.
If this happens, we could see AMAZING fights on every card next year, making it arguably the biggest year in MMA history!