Jul 16, 2012 - Showtime Sports president Stephen
Espinoza on Monday denied the existence of a list of Strikeforce fighters that
are banned from signing with the UFC during the lifetime of the
On Monday's edition
of The MMA
Hour, Espinoza said the report was erroneous.
Espinoza said that because Showtime isn't an MMA promoter, they have no
existing deals with fighters that can limit their movement. What they do have is
a contract with Zuffa that allows them to broadcast the talent pool of
"That roster of talent at the point we
entered into the contract is attached to our contract informationally," he said.
"But all this stuff about controlling people when they’re free agents and things
like that, that’s not true."
Espinoza said that any specific fighters
contracts are between them and Zuffa. Using lightweight champion Melendez as an
example, he said he had never seen the fighter's contract and had no idea what
negotiation or matching rights Strikeforce has when it runs out.
got an arrangement with Strikeforce that gives us rights to Strikeforce fights
while they have those fighters under contract to Strikeforce," he said. "Beyond
that, the short answer is, that's sort of an issue in the contract between
Strikeforce and the fighters. Not us. We're not privy to that
Espinoza did acknowledge that the UFC could not bring Melendez or
any other fighter over from Strikeforce if that fighter had existing fights on
his current Strikeforce deal.
"Putting it in context, that’s the case
for all other MMA promotions, that's the case for all other professional
sports," he said. "If you're under contract in MLS you can't go sign in the
European league. If you're under contract in the NBA, you cant go sign in
another league while you're under contract with the NBA. It's the same thing.
While you're under contract to Strikeforce, you can't go sign a contract with
So to recap, fighters under Strikeforce contract
won't be coming over to the UFC anytime soon, but once their existing deals are
up and they become free agents, they can entertain a move from Strikeforce's
hexagon to the UFC's octagon with impunity.