With the news that Frank Mir will enter the Strikeforce cage to face David Cormier, the question is how many more UFC-Strikeforce bouts will we see in the future? The most recent cross promotion bout announced looks to be the first within Strikeforce. However, this is following a string of Strikeforce crossovers with former champions including Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Dan Henderson, and Allistar Overeem making the transition to the Octagon.
It has been revealed that the Strikeforce Heavyweight division will eventually be dissolved, as after this fight both Mir and Cormier will compete solely in the UFC. This will be done to focus on developing the depth of other weight classes, including a women’s division within the company. Many former Strikeforce Heavyweights have already entered the UFC including Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Shane del Rosario, Shawn Jordan, and of course Overeem.
Until now, both rosters have been considered exclusive to its respected promotion, although there have been exceptions to this rule. UFC President Dana White has said in the past that fighters from Strikeforce will not crossover to the UFC while there is a deal between Showtime and Strikeforce. The company was bought by the UFC’s parent company Zuffa in March 2011. He has said before he would not sign Strikeforce fighters while they were contracted with Strikeforce due to the deal with Showtime.
There have been a number of differences between White and Strikeforce broadcaster Showtime, although he has indicated Strikeforce will stay on the network for the remainder of 2012. The UFC have not signed a large number of Strikeforce fighters, instead opting to wait until their contracts expire. The original idea was to have Strikeforce as it’s own promotion and operate independently. However, it is often viewed as a proving ground for fighters who want to compete in the UFC.
White has stated that Cormier needs to fight high-quality heavyweights, and one of those guys is Frank Mir. Mir, a former champion who lost by TKO to current UFC Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146, has a 14-6 UFC record (MMA 16-6). He holds notable wins over Brock Lesnar, Tim Sylvia, and two victories over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Cormier (10-0) is a former Olympic wrestler, and recently won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix by defeating Josh Barnett by unanimous decision, eventually being promoted to Strikeforce Heavyweight champion.
Although the two promotions have operated separately since being owned Zuffa, it’s smart to incorporate cross promotion bouts. It just make sense to have the best athletes and greatest fighters in world compete against one another because it sets up fights fans of Mixed Martial Arts want to see. With Zuffa owning both promotions, it opens up many opportunities for these fights in the future.
For the time being, fighters like Gilbert Melendez and Luke Rockhold will have to wait to get their chance at a UFC debut. Mir will challenge for Cormier’s Strikeforce Heavyweight title at an event later this fall.