Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White and his Zuffa machine can officially add another tombstone to its mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion graveyard.
Strikeforce, which was acquired back in March 2011 for a steal at $40 million, tonight (Dec. 20, 2012) announced that its last official event would air on Showtime on Jan. 12, 2013. Company CEO, Scott Coker, was the man who delivered the not-so-surprising news earlier this evening.
His public eulogy:
"Since 2009, Showtime has been a great partner and we appreciate its support of Strikeforce and our athletes. For our final event, we've loaded the card with some outstanding fights. This is going to be a memorable night for the sport of mixed martial arts."
The arduos and painful task of coordinating the "loaded" event that Coker references is most likely the final nail in a coffin that was likely commissioned back when the San Jose, Calif.-based promotion was sold to the UFC parent company. White and Co. -- who have gobbled up virtually every major (and even minor) competitor over the last few years such as Pride FC, World Fighting Alliance (WFA) and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) -- didn't seem too thrilled from the start to be promoting a two-front show.
But, the television deal with Showtime that was grandfathered into deal took precedence, so it was "business as usual" for Strikeforce as it flew its flag under new ownership. Most fight fans knew it was only a matter of time before Strikeforce was dissolved and its best fighters were integrated into the UFC roster.
The snowball began to roll when Alistair Overeem and Nick Diaz -- two of the best fighters on the Strikeforce roster and division champions -- transitioned to the UFC in late 2011.
And when its best remaining fighters such as Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez couldn't stay healthy recently, or when opponents for its standout Heavyweight Grand Prix winner, Daniel Cormier, couldn't do the same -- or even when its most prized possession, Ronda Rousey, was introduced as the new UFC Bantanweight female champion -- it all came to a predictable conclusion.
Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports Executive Vice President and General Manager remarked:
"We are proud of our association with Scott Coker and the entire Strikeforce team. From Gina Carano to Ronda Rousey, Fedor Emelianenko to Daniel Cormier, Nick Diaz to Gilbert Melendez, Showtime Sports and Strikeforce have built some of the biggest stars in the sport and have produced many of the most watched and most intriguing fights in the history of MMA. We look forward to another night of competitive and explosive Strikeforce fights on Showtime on January 12 in OKC."
Founded in 1985 as a United States-based kickboxing organization, Strikeforce began to promote MMA events in 2006. Its inaugural "Shamrock vs. Gracie" event to this day ranks as one of the biggest North American MMA attendance leaders (18,250).
To check out the final Strikeforce event fight card and rumors click here.