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UFC acquires Strikeforce

UFC President Dana White says it will be “business as usual” for time being

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Justin M. Bowen

UFC President Dana White watches a video during the weigh-in for UFC 126 on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

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Like one of its prized championship fighters, UFC keeps conquering all of its closest competitors.

Zuffa LLC, the parent company of UFC, has purchased Strikeforce, the second biggest mixed martial arts promotion in the world. UFC President Dana White announced the news Saturday morning through a video on MMAFighting.com posted to the front of UFC’s Web site.

“Strikeforce is a brand that fans have come to like,” White said in the video. “They do have a following. People enjoy the fights they are putting on. It made sense to us.”

White said UFC and Strikeforce would continue to operate as two separate businesses for the foreseeable future. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker will be retained and continue to run day-to-day operations from the promotion’s San Jose, Calif., headquarters.

“Strikeforce is going to continue to run business as usual,” White said. “There are contracts in place. These guys are on Showtime and Strikeforce pulls good ratings.”

Strikeforce is the latest Zuffa acquisition in a number of them over the past few years. In 2006, the company purchased WEC. UFC bought leading Japanese MMA company PRIDE in 2007.

All of the fighters from WEC and PRIDE eventually merged with UFC. That will not be the case with Strikeforce, according to White. UFC and Strikeforce will continue to run different fight cards.

“Could guys from the UFC leave and end up in Strikeforce? Absolutely,” White said. “That’s the way it works now. It’s business as usual.”

The move creates an interesting dynamic considering Strikeforce has served as the landing spot for a handful of personalities who had a falling out with White and/or UFC.

Everyone from commentators Pat Miletich and Frank Shamrock — both former UFC champions — to fighters like light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson and top welterweight contender Paul Daley signed with Strikeforce after public disputes with UFC.

But White said he wasn’t worried about that and would stay away from Strikeforce events at least in the immediate future.

“I don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable over there,” White said.

White has long expressed a desire to make UFC one of the world’s biggest sports organizations. He envisions a day where it is on par with the NFL.

In the end, the purchasing of Strikeforce is about moving closer to that goal.

“I’ve been saying this for the last year and a half: We need more fighters,” White said. “We need more fights.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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