Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, who doesn't have the best relationship with Dana White, recently stated that Strikeforce Champions Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold and Ronda Rousey were bound to the San Jose-based promotion and were forbidden to go to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ranks even after they became free agents.
That claim prompted the UFC's head honcho to say that Dave had "lost his mind" and was "making sh*t up." For those of you keeping count, that's twice White has put Meltzer on blast for his claims.
Now, Stephen Espinoza, President of Showtime Sports, has cleared the air by saying that in no way, shape or form are fighters forbidden to sign with the UFC once they become free agents. They simply aren't allowed to sign with UFC, or any other promotion for that matter, if they are still under contract with Strikeforce.
Then again, we already knew that.
Nevertheless, Espinoza dropped by the The MMA Hour yesterday (July 16, 2012) to clear up any misunderstandings or false claims floating around:
"That roster of talent at the point we entered into the contract is attached to our contract informationally. But all this stuff about controlling people when they're free agents and things like that, that's not true. We've got an arrangement with Strikeforce that gives us rights to Strikeforce fights while they have those fighters under contract to Strikeforce. Beyond that, the short answer is, that's sort of an issue in the contract between Strikeforce and the fighters. Not us. We're not privy to that stuff."
Espinoza elaborated further about fighter contracts with Strikeforce:
"Putting it in context, that's the case for all other MMA promotions, that's the case for all other professional sports. If you're under contract in MLS you can't go sign in the European league. If you're under contract in the NBA, you can't go sign in another league while you're under contract with the NBA. It's the same thing. While you're under contract to Strikeforce, you can't go sign a contract with another organization."
Dana White 2, Dave Meltzer 0.
Fans can rest easy again knowing that once their contracts expire with Strikeforce, Rockhold and Melendez can, if they choose to, make the jump over to the UFC and test their skills in what will clearly be a step up in competition.
Rousey can as well, but, let's face it, despite the former Olympian being promoted heavily by ZUFFA lately, women's MMA in the UFC is still merely a dream or all aspiring female combat sports' stars.