Despite slamming Dave Meltzer’s podcast report earlier this week, UFC President Dana White confirmed that there is an agreement in place with Showtime as long as the deal with the company lasts.
White spoke of the matter during the pre-UFC 149 press conference, stating:
“There’s not a list of protected fighters – (Rhonda) Rousey and this one and that one, the reality is, and I’ve said this a million times, (it’s) the entire Strikeforce roster.”
Meltzer’s report earlier this week set off speculation as to status of Strikeforce fighter’s ability to leave the promotion when their deals were up. The deal was apparently struck after Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, and Alistair Overeem all found ways to circumvent their remaining contracts and join the UFC without penalty.
When Strikeforce and Showtime renewed their deal with Forza (renamed Zuffa LLC.) White agreed to remain hands off with the Strikeforce fighters. White spoke of the deal when it when the extension was signed this past December, stating:
“Gilbert Melendez and all the guys that are in the Strikeforce show and with Showtime, I will make this right. They will be happy to be there. Believe me. I’ve got this thing worked out. I’ve got it figured out. It’s going to be good for everybody. It’s going to be good for the fighters, it’s going to be good for Showtime, and it’s going to be good for Strikeforce. Trust me, I got this.”
Current Strikeforce fighters can still leave the promotion when their contracts are up but they will not be able to to sign with the UFC until Showtime declines their option to continue airing Strikeforce. MMAJunkie reports the deal will run year to year for now.
Strikeforce fighters have shown growing frustration via twitter and other media outlets about being left out of the UFC and not receiving the same perks UFC fighters do. While every fighter in Strikeforce will eventually become a free agent, until Showtime’s deal with Strikeforce is done for good they will be left out of the UFC.