2011 15 Mar

UFC 1281:05pm — Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Scott Coker on the call.

1:06pm — Scott, what prompted you to make the deal? Coker: It was a long and hard decision but investors (SVSE) wanted to get back to their hockey business so we looked at new offers/investors.

1:08pm — Dana, will you merge brands down the road? White: Anything is possible, but as of now the plan is to run Strikeforce on Showtime like it has been. Showtime runs the production including choice of announcers.

1:09pm — Coker: Approximately 140 fighters under contract with Strikeforce.

1:10pm — Dana, is no competition a bad thing? White: There will always be competition, this is about growing the sport. It’s a great day for fans and fighters. Lorenzo: We have vast financial resources and it’s good for fighters to be with a big, healthy promotion. There are literally thousands of promotions worldwide so fighters still have plenty of options.

1:11pm — Lorenzo says acquisition is in “early stages” and he hasn’t talked to Showtime yet. If they want to pursue a new deal after current Strikeforce contract expires (in 2014) he would be willing to talk.

1:12pm — UFC will implement unified rules of MMA in Strikeforce shows (including elbows on the ground) effective immediately.

1:13pm — Dana says “superfights” are possible but it’s too early to forecast fantasy match-ups. It’s a work in progress.

1:15pm — Fertitta: How quickly the UFC expands may dictate how they use newly acquired fighters.

1:17pm — White: UFC anticipates no fallout from Canadian outcry against head injuries (RE: NHL).

1:20pm — Will Strikeforce come to Canada? Coker: There was dialog with a casino and arena in Canada but we’re still a few weeks away from any kind of announcement.

1:21pm — White: There is a demand for MMA and it does not compete with other major sports like NFL and MLB. UFC has its own demand.

1:22pm — What about comments from Paul Daley and Josh Barnett who have past issues with UFC? White: This is a business, if you don’t like me you can always deal with Lorenzo but as of now we will honor all contracts.

1:23pm — Another fantasy match-up question. Same answer: Work in progress and brands will run separately for now. Lorenzo: There is still unfinished business in Strikeforce (RE: Grand Prix, other upcoming events).

1:25pm — Will the UFC open themselves up to anti-trust suits with new acquisition? Fertitta: Doubtful, plenty of promotions already exist and there are no barriers to new promotions starting and signing fighters. White: All you need is big balls and big money.

1:26pm — White: No plans to do Strikeforce “Ultimate Fighter” but you never know.

1:27pm — Does the Strikeforce purchase help the UFC get into Japan? Lorenzo: Too early to tell but Coker has good relationship there and it warrants future consideration.

1:28pm — Coker: UFC purchase had no effect on delay of heavyweight tournament.

1:29pm — White: UFC will not counter-program Strikeforce events moving forward but will continue to air old UFC pay-per-views on Spike TV.

1:30pm — Dana White has not changed his opinion of female fighting (not a fan) and calls it “Scott’s deal.”

1:31pm — How much closer does this acquisition put you to a Zuffa “On Demand” channel? Lorenzo: Nothing to report on that but we will use the Strikeforce library like we have for PRIDE and WEC. UFC has 4000+ library of fights.

1:33pm — Coker: Strikeforce still interested in Hispanic market and can now use Zuffa backing to help capitalize on that demand.

1:34pm — White: It’s up to the fighters if they want to do a union but the problem is MMA isn’t a team sport and top paying guys may not want to kick some of that money to guys coming up or who might not make it — but that is entirely up to the fighters.

1:35pm — Another fantasy match-up question and (surprise) same answer: “Business as usual.” Coker cannot comment on specific contracts but reiterates that Fedor Emelianenko fights for Strikeforce on Showtime.

1:36pm — Was Strikeforce purchase a defensive move to keep it from other investors? White and Fertitta: No, and they hadn’t heard the rumor of other interested parties until today.

1:39pm — White: This will be the biggest sport in the world because everyone likes fighting and we have big International plans. We need more fighters as we continue to grow the sport worldwide. We’re in half a billion homes so we’re doing a pretty good job.

1:40pm — How does the UFC keep the championship picture from getting messy like boxing now that UFC owns two promotions with two sets of champs? White: Nothing has changed. Two separate brands and each has its own set of champions to represent it.

1:41pm — Fertitta: We’re growing our brand through increased presence like new “Prelim” specials on TV and Facebook and want to introduce new fighters and build talent overseas and in different markets through more content like “Fight Nights” and related programming. White: There is a ton of demand worldwide and we’re trying to keep up.

1:42pm — Fertitta: We don’t feel like we have a year-round presence overseas and now it’s just a “special event” type of approach. Goal is to make it a full-time presence.

1:45pm — Call ends.

Las Vegas, Nevada –Forza, LLC, a subsidiary of Zuffa, LLC, which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship® brand, announced today that it has purchased the assets of Explosion Entertainment, LLC dba Strikeforce®. Under the terms of the deal, all Strikeforce fighter contracts will be honored, as will its broadcast agreement with Showtime® Networks, Inc. Strikeforce will continue to operate as a separate business and current Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has signed a long-term employment agreement with the company.

“We have worked hard to make mixed martial arts the fastest growing sport in the world,” UFC President Dana White said. “We’ve spent countless hours getting this sport regulated and taking the Octagon® all over the world. Acquiring the Strikeforce assets allows us to continue to develop this sport into a global force.”

“We intend to operate Strikeforce as a separate business much like we did with the WEC for many years,” Lorenzo Fertitta, Chairman and CEO of Zuffa, said. “We look forward to working with Scott Coker, and the entire Strikeforce and Showtime teams to continue to provide quality content for mixed martial arts fans.

“We’ve long admired Scott Coker and the Strikeforce business he launched and developed,” Fertitta continued. “We feel that together with Scott, we can continue to build both Strikeforce and the UFC.”

Currently, Strikeforce holds 16 events annually across the United States. The organization will continue to do so under new ownership and fans can look forward to exciting fights featuring their favorite Strikeforce athletes. While there are currently no plans to bring Strikeforce fighters to the UFC, a new strategy to strengthen Strikeforce’s talented roster is being developed.

“This is an important day for the sport of mixed martial arts,” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said. “We are excited to work with Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta, Dana White and everyone at the UFC on the quest to make MMA the biggest sport in the world. Fans can continue to expect quality Strikeforce shows and we look forward to giving our athletes an even broader platform on which to perform.”

Strikeforce was represented in the transaction by Evolution Media Capital, a media and sports investment bank affiliated with Creative Artists Agency.

The next Strikeforce event is planned for Friday, April 1 in Stockton, Calif. In the main event of the Strikeforce Challengers card held at the Stockton Arena, lightweights Justin Wilcox (10-3) and Rodrigo Damm (9-4) are set to collide. The fight will air on Showtime at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

Strikeforce also has an event on April 9 at the Valley View Casino Arena in San Diego featuring a welterweight title fight between Nick Diaz (24-7-1) and Paul Daley (27-9-2). Then, in June, Strikeforce continues its Heavyweight Grand Prix at the American Airlines Center in Dallas with a much anticipated heavyweight clash pitting Alistair Overeem (34-11-1) vs. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1). All bouts live and subject to change.

Audio from Yahoo! Sports Cagewriter

2011 10 Feb

Out of the thousands of articles on MiddleEasy.com, this is the first time in which Dana White has mentioned Strikeforce without also using ‘sucks’, ‘bush league’, ‘smaller organization’ and/or ‘[expletive]‘ in the same sentence.

Chances are, the video cuts off just before Dana White throws a verbal dagger so ruthless that it travels to San Jose, breaks some window in Strkeforce’s headquarters and steals everyone’s lunch in the company refrigerator.

At the UFC 129 press-tour, a fan asked White who he thinks will win in the upcoming Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand-Prix bout between Fedor vs. Silva, and surprisingly, White gives his prediction. [Source]

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ufc 125 free live stream

2011 19 Jan
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cain velasquezI want to meet the one kid who used a ‘number one’ pencil instead of a ‘number two’ pencil on a school exam and made the Scantron machine ignite in a roaring blazing of mathematical glory. You know he’s out there, alone in his number one pencil solitude. That kid is a rebel. When it comes to writing utensils, he’s a revolutionary. He could lead a rebel alliance of number one pencil users and take over a small Scantron factory off the coast of North Carolina. Damn the number two pencil. That should be on a shirt.

Cain Velasquez attended Arizona State University, which already places him at a disadvantage in the Frate Trane list. Any Wildcat would understand, it’s only business. However, for the sake of keeping everything at a warm equilibrium on MiddleEasy, I’ll pretend like he tried to enrolled into the University of Arizona, but slightly messed up his college entrance application.

Most of you were unaware that the UFC heavyweight champion started his MMA career in Strikeforce, and for some bizarre reason, Scott Coker decided to let him go. In an alternate universe somewhere on the edge of a forgotten timeline, Cain Velasquez is still with Strikeforce and he will participate in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand-Prix next month. In that same universe, chicken wings and blue cheese don’t exist, so it still has its flaws.

Check out this video of Cain Velasquez ascending to greatness by repeatedly smacking Jesse Fujarczyk in the face with his fists.

2011 16 Jan
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Fedor Emelianenko Entrance

The Strikeforce eight-man heavyweight tournament is the real deal and now that Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Silva, Josh Barnett, Fabricio Werdum, Sergei Kharitonov, Andrei Arlovski, Brett Rogers and Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem will compete in the upcoming tournament, Scott Coker knows he’s pulled off a major coup.

The tournament begins with an Emelianenko-Silva bout as the main event of a Feb. 12 card at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. and includes a quarterfinal bout between Arlovski and Kharitonov, as opposed to the originally reported Arlovski-Barnett matchup.

Two quarterfinals set for March 5 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio feature Rogers taking on Barnett and Overeem squaring off with Werdum.

What happens if some of the frontline main card fighters go down with injury or are rendered otherwise unable to compete? Coker has “Challengers” series standouts Daniel Cormier, Lavar Johnson and Shane del Rosario standing in the wings ready to take to the cage.

Still in question is how Barnett’s ongoing licensing problems in California will affect his participation. The former Pride Fighting Championships competitor allegedly tested positive for performance enhancing substances prior to a scheduled bout with Emelianenko in July 2009. Barnett’s hearing before the CSAC was pushed back to 2011 and may now go before the commission again on Feb. 4.

2011 13 Jan

Former Strikeforce women’s middleweight  and current celebutante and actress, Gina Carano, has been out of the fight game since a brutal loss to current women’s middleweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos in August 2009.

Since that time, fans and Strikeforce brass have been left to wonder whether or not they’ll see her fight again. Carano single-handedly put women’s MMA on the map, and Strikeforce was the prime beneficiary of that popularity. Aside from Fedor Emelianenko and Nick Diaz (add Gilbert Melendez to that list if you’re giving points for potential), the promotion is mostly B-List names. Solid fighters, but not huge stateside stars. Even heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem is a tad to coy at this point to have achieved major US stardom.

Carano had the stunning good looks and killer body to be a star, which she is, and she also had the goods as a fighter. That was  a potent combination which put her in the express lane to superstardom. It remains to be seen whether she can ride that wave to the shores of California and acting stardom.

What Strikeforce did on the heels of EliteXC’s failure was straight up brilliant – the San Jose promotion leveraged Carano’s game and look to hype the fight with Santos and put together the first ever women’s middleweight championship fight. The plan went awry, at least from a star-making standpoint, when Santos delivered Carano her first loss and hammered the most famous woman in MMA for a first round TKO win.

That seemed to spell the end for Carano and signal a new direction.  Carano made herself scarce at the Xtreme Couture gym and decided to ratchet up her new career with her acting  debut in Haywire, directed by Steven Soderbergh. That film should be something more than a straight-to-video cheapy like most of the work done by MMA stars. Haywire features some stars with serious heft in the business like Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas and Ewan McGregor.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, seeming somewhat stunned like a jilted lover, is still holding out hope that Carano will return to the fold and give his promotion a welcome jolt of hype, and Coker recently told MMAFighting the he “believes she’ll be back in the cage this year.”

He is delusional on this score. Hollywood is a cushy gig, and when compared to the brutal rigors of the fight game, it’s positively easy street.

Still, the man at the helm of Strikeforce holds out the hope of a better tomorrow.

From what I know of her, she is a competitor at heart; she’s going to want to fight. She’s not going to want to end her career the way it ended. So, I think she’ll be back,” Coker said. “This girl’s a real fighter. She’s not this actress that became a fighter. She’s a real fighter that became an actress. So that fight is inside her.”

That may well be true, but Hollywood is a seductive place, and the gym exacts a horrific toll on practitioners facing a climb back up the mountain. Carano, at 28, may not have the inclination to begin that journey again.

2011 11 Jan

Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem is ready to silence the critics and fight the best Strikeforce has to offer – whether his belt is on the line or not.

And the best Strikeforce has to offer in the heavyweight division is a considerable roster.

A hungry and chastised Fedor Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva – and to a lesser extent, Andrei Arlovski – are all top-class and dangerous opponents. The bracket is a tad odd as you would figure the most exciting matchup to be an Emelianenko vs Overeem tussle should both make the finals, but that is simply nitpicking a format which is exceptionally good for MMA fans. The one bizarre choice in the lineup would be selecting promotion-destroying Josh Barnett as a key component of the tourney, but again, having credible fighters ready to step in when Barnett is prevented from participating should take care of that criticism.

Alistair OvereemIt was about time that Strikeforce officials included Overeem once more in their plans, and the promotion’s upcoming eight-man heavyweight tournament is the perfect showcase for the best heavyweight fighter not in the UFC. The tourney begins Feb. 12 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J., and Overeem’s first test stateside comes against Fabricio Werdum who upset Fedor Emelianenko in June of last year.

But don’t blame Overeem for being absent, at least according to his reasoning.

“I have been looking for a big fight for more than a year now,” Overeem told MMAjunkie.com.

The first quarterfinal event marks the return of Emelianenko who will take on Antonio Silva, and the card also includes Andrei Arlovski vs. Sergei Kharitonov. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said the Showtime-televised tournament will be, barring the vicissitudes endemic to the format, completed by the fall.

Overeem recently became the first man to simultaneously hold titles in kickboxing and MMA when he blasted his way through the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix in Tokyo and then “demolished”  Todd Duffee at DREAM “Dynamite!! 2010″ to win that promotion’s interim heavyweight title in MMA.

Due in large part to an extended absence that saw him make his first title defense in nearly three years with a first-round TKO victory, the critics said his opponent, Brett Rogers, was hardly a test of his full capabilities. Those critics were, of course, correct, as Rogers is simply second-line fodder for more accomplished fighters.

Overeem wants all that talk to end now.

“All the fighters in that tournament are good, so there are no easy fights. I’m a little surprised about it, and I don’t know why this bracket is designed this way, but my job is to fight. I’m not picking opponents, so if that’s the way they made the bracket, so be it. I can show the American fans that I’m the No. 1 fighter in Strikeforce,” Overeem said. “Entering such a tournament is not only great for the MMA fans but also a great way to prove that I’m the best fighter in the world.”

That is entirely correct, and should the Strikeforce belt be on the line and the tourney fights be approved for five rounds, he will have indeed proved his mettle by coming out on top. Will he have proved that he’s the “best fighter in the world” in the heavyweight division?

In a word, no.

He faces the same dilemma that Emelianenko has suffered in the last few years and would have to test himself against the UFC contingent of big men to set that right.

But those concerns are not within Overeem’s purview, and as with Emelianenko before him, any fault lies with his management who can rightly be blamed for holding their man back in his quest to be recognized as the best in the game.

To be the best, you must beat the best, and the only thing between Overeem and greatness is a signature and a change of promotion…

2011 8 Jan

Props: Sherdog

Quoteworthy:

“Alistair asked for Fabricio, personally. When I was in Japan last week, he said, ‘You’ve got to let me fight Fabricio. I want to avenge that loss. It’s important.’

So that was an easy fight to put together. Werdum says he’s going to make Alistair go to sleep.”

Overeem v WerdumStrikeforce CEO Scott Coker made perhaps the easiest match-up in the promotion’s upcoming heavyweight tournament when he booked Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum in the quarterfinal bracket.

Will the “Demolition Man” avenge his PRIDE FC loss to “Vai Cavalo?” Or go to sleep trying to make it happen?

2010 22 Dec

Scott Coker and the Strikeforce Heavyweight Division

While Fedor is certainly one of Strikeforces stars, he’s not the only one in the promotion and more to the point, not the only one they’ve screwed up with.

Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem is now not only the Heavyweight champion he’s also the newly crowned winner of the December 11th, K-1 World Grand Prix. Scott Coker’s PR people should be working overtime to get this guy’s name on the lips of people who even remotely follow MMA. Instead he’s had one title defense in 3 years and has been focusing on his kickboxing career.

While Brock Lesnar has some serious issues with his MMA game, at least Dana White seems to acknowledge that the man’s size and presence is marketable, win, lose or draw. Overeem is 100 times more talented and experienced than Lesnar, is already the champion and yet Coker seems to forget he’s on the roster. Instead he’s focus on signing Dave Bautista while trying to legitimize Herschel Walker and Bobby Lashley. I think there’s room in Strikeforce those three men but they should not be the focus of the heavyweight division. One is probably too old for the sport, one seems to have let his contract expire and the other seems to just be looking for the biggest possible payday while simultaneously putting in the least amount of time in the sport.