According to MMA Weekly's Damon Martin, Dana White has declared that Nick Diaz will officially vacate his Strikeforce welterweight title, en route to his UFC title bout against Georges St. Pierre.
White was quoted as saying:
"He will give up the title, he will give up his Strikeforce title," White said. "He will come in and fight Georges St-Pierre, two guys will fight for the vacant belt in Strikeforce and we’ll go from there."
The announcement (that Diaz will vacate his title) is the most recent of multiple details which have come to light in regard to Diaz's shift to the UFC. The specifics of the deal have come out a little at a time, and have been released somewhat inconspicuously.
You can hate Dana White. You can call his motivation malevolent. Regardless of how you view him as a person and/or businessman, it's hard to overlook the strategic ingenuity that has been used in this particular instance.
Think about it. If White and the UFC come in, overnight, and announce they've purchased Strikeforce, they've harvested its superstars, and made its one-time competitor organization defunct, the reaction would have been an onslaught of bad press and criticism.
Instead, from day one, the mantra, "Business As Usual", has been used to explain the process of what is occurring.
Has it been business as usual? You be the judge. Look at the timeline:
- Zuffa acquires Strikeforce
- Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta pledge to keep things the same (sort've)
- Scott Coker is quietly and unceremoniously demoted
- SF's main matchmaker, Rich Chou, is released and replaced by Zuffa employee (and former WEC matchmaker) Sean Shelby
- It is announced that SF's welterweight champ, Nick Diaz, will fight UFC champ Georges St. Pierre in a UFC fight for the UFC title.
- It is disclosed that, in order to make this fight work, Diaz's exclusive Strikeforce contract is dissolved, and a new contract has been created
- Diaz's contract allows him to fight for either the UFC or Strikeforce
- Diaz's SF belt will not be at risk during his fight vs. GSP; it will be strictly for the UFC belt
- Diaz vacates SF belt, and is now solely a UFC fighter; he has the option to go back to Strikeforce later on, should he so decide
All of this was a subtle progression over a period of just over 3 months. It's honestly beautiful. If you take all of the changes listed in the above timeline, and make them all happen at once, it would be overload. It would have never worked. When you stretch it out over a period of time, people barely even notice. Amazing.
I've been saying it since March when the deal first went down: Strikeforce's days are numbered. I'm all for it. I want to see the best guys fighting the best guys. The dream match-ups are coming, and they're not far off. Dana White takes no prisoners, and endures zero competition. It is indeed 'Business As Usual'.