Dana White threatened to make Strikeforce founder’s ‘life hard’ before acquiring top talents from rival organization

Newly released UFC lawsuit documents reveal Dana White's forceful 2011 Strikeforce acquisition.


Dana White threatened to make Strikeforce founder’s ‘life hard’ before acquiring top talents from rival organization

Dana White threatened Scott Coker (Image via: X/Bloody Elbow, IMAGO)

Newly released court documents from the UFC anti-trust lawsuit reveal Dana White‘s forceful tactics in the 2011 acquisition of Strikeforce. Dana White and the Fertitta brothers aggressively pursued the takeover. This highlights the fierce competition in MMA promotion from 2005 to 2015. The UFC is at present facing a lawsuit worth $1.6 billion in damages.

In November 2010, the UFC met with Strikeforce owners to discuss a potential acquisition. Lorenzo Fertitta, the then-CEO of the UFC, expressed Zuffa’s desire to buy Strikeforce and unify the brands. He intended to maximize the UFC’s power by absorbing Strikeforce who was a major competitor for the UFC. Zuffa’s 2012 internal correspondence confirms this strategy, aiming to remove Strikeforce from the competitive landscape.

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Unlike the UFC, the Strikeforce was paying more than half of its revenue to the fighters. For the UFC, it was and still is less than 25 percent.

The founder of Strikeforce, Scott Coker resisted selling his company to the UFC. He had concerns for the MMA industry’s future. He believed that without competition, the UFC’s monopoly could lower fighter pay.

Coker even likened the situation to a scenario from the popular “Star Wars” film franchise, with Strikeforce as the “Jedis” against UFC’s imposing “Empire”. Incidentally, Coker’s current company, Bellator MMA, where he is the CEO, is presumed to merge with another promotion, the PFL.

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These insights into Dana White’s tactics offered a clearer view of the ruthless MMA promotion battles that he had been part of. The outcome of the UFC anti-trust lawsuit may reshape MMA’s future and its competitive practices. The court document released also showed that fight purses of the top earners of the promotion.

Surprisingly, the fight purses of Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, and Ronda Rousey were not what was earlier presumed. Brock Lesnar made more money on average than Conor McGregor. Even more shocking was the fight purse of Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Scott Coker believed that Strikeforce could have been a major rival for the UFC

The sale of Strikeforce to the UFC was one of the biggest victories for the UFC. Strikeforce had many top fighters in their ranks and was a big rival for the UFC. It needs to be noted that Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold, Nick Diaz, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Tyron Woodley to name a few were big stars in Strikeforce who later had good runs with the UFC.

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Scott Coker
Scott Coker (Image via: X/Notorious)

Coker has stated on record that the UFC was wary of Strikeforce and wanted to shut it down. As far as what could have happened, this is what Coker said.

Strikeforce would have continued to become a stronger competitor for the UFC.

Although his time as the CEO of Strikeforce was profitable, it is not the case for Bellator MMA. Court documents revealed that Bellator MMA was not profitable. Bellator pays the fighters half of their revenue. However, the fighter purse is not the reason for the company facing losses. Documents revealed in court insinuated that Bellator would have faced losses even if they did not pay the fighters.

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