The UFC’s purchase of top rival Strikeforce through a subsidiary of its parent company Zuffa was made official on Monday following UFC President Dana White’s surprise announcement of the deal on Saturday.
“We have worked hard to make mixed martial arts the fastest growing sport in the world,” 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.”
In the press release, Zuffa Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta reiterated White’s comments that Strikeforce would continue to run as a separate promotion for the time being under the direction of former owner and CEO Scott Coker.
“We intend to operate Strikeforce as a separate business much like we did with the WEC for many years,” Fertitta 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. We feel that together with Scott, we can continue to build both Strikeforce and the UFC.”
Coker said Strikeforce will continue to produce the events its become known for, while providing bigger opportunities for its fighters now that they have the backing of the UFC.
“This is an important day for the sport of mixed martial arts,” 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 will honor existing contracts with its fighters and Showtime, which next airs Strikeforce Challenger 15 on April 1, though the promotion is rumored to merge with the UFC once that deal expires next year.
Strikeforce’s upcoming events also include “Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley” on April 9, featuring welterweight champ Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley and lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawakjiri, and the continuation of its heavyweight tournament on June 18 in Dallas with champ Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum.
The future of former top-ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko remains in question, as his contract is with Showtime, not Strikeforce, and he has declined previous offers from the UFC.
Pictured: Scott Coker