In March 12, the MMA was massively shook by the announcement that UFC parent company, Zuffa, had acquired Strikeforce. The move instantly set a chain of actions into motion. Some of those actions have already taken place. Many are still yet to occur.
The acquisition affected everyone involved with mixed martial arts, but it especially affected the fighters. The purchase has many long term ramifications that can only be speculated on at this point. Strikeforce fighter Jason High (who will be fighting on Friday night's 'Challengers 16' card) was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time this week as we speculated together about the future.
As some viewers may remember, High actually was in the UFC as recently as March of 2010. Unfortunately, he lost his debut against Charlie Brenneman, and was immediately cut afterwards. I asked him about that whole experience and how its shaped him as a fighter in the aftermath.
"I stay on a pretty even keel generally. That loss was disappointing. I wasn't so disappointed by being cut, because from a business standpoint, it made sense for the UFC. I had lost 2 straight at that point, and the fight with Charlie wasn't a crowd pleaser. I'd say I was more disappointed by the loss in the Dream finals (vs. Marius Zaromskis)."
Since his back-to-back losses in 2010. High has gone on a 4-fight win streak, with notable wins over Jordan Mein, Hayato Sakurai, and Rudy Bears.
On Friday night, Jason makes his Strikeforce debut against King of the Cage veteran Quinn Mulhern. We talked about the importance of Friday night's fight, as well as his future aspirations concerning the UFC.
"It’s just another fight for me, another opportunity. Every fight is your most important fight. It sounds cliché but it's true. My last fight was pretty important, and this fight is important in terms of my career...
...Just making it to the UFC isn't really that great a goal I don't think. I try to aim higher. I think your goals should not be too high or too low. For me, just making it back to the UFC is setting the bar too low. My immediate goal is to win my fight Friday. My next goal after that is to fight my way into the top 10 in my weight class in the world."
I spoke with Jason regarding the Zuffa acquisition of Strikeforce, and the impact he feels that will have on the Strikeforce organization in the long-term. Here's what he had to say:
"I was a bit surprised (upon hearing of the purchase), but not completely. I thought in the long run that Strikeforce would go out of business or be purchased. I just wasn't sure which would happen first.
I'd like to see SF stay around but I agree that the organization is on the WEC plan. I'd say a year, 2 tops before it happens (referring to Strikeforce being absorbed by the UFC)."
Dana White and Scott Coker are two drastically different people. They have both been in charge of large MMA promotions, but they are publicly perceived in dynamically different fashions. Jason has worked for them both. I asked him to describe both of them.
White: Promoter and face of the largest MMA organization on the planet.
Coker: Scott is a little harder since he's not so up front like Dana, but from what I've seen, he's a nice guy.
As a fellow welterweight, I was curious in hearing Jason's thoughts on the upcoming GSP vs. Nick Diaz match-up. These were his thoughts.
"I think GSP strikes until he gets uncomfortable, then takes Diaz down at will, beats him up, controls him, passes his guard and so on. My money is on GSP."
"Thanks to all my sponsors. Middle Easy, VXRSI, For U Nutrition, Exile Tattoo Kansas City, Gazelle Incorporated and thank you guys."
We appreciate Jason's time and candid answers. Make sure to check out Jason's fight on Friday night at 11pm ET on Showtime.