FTC Gives a Pass to Martial Arts Merger


     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Federal Trade Commission said it has ended its investigation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s $34 million purchase of rival mixed martial arts promotion Strikeforce.



     The FTC notified Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) attorney Stephen Axinn of its decision in a Jan. 25 letter.
     The letter states: “The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition has been conducting a nonpublic investigation to determine whether Zuffa, LLC’s acquisition of Explosion Entertainment, LLC may violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act or Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
     “Upon further review of this matter, it now appears that no further action is warranted by the Commission at this time. Accordingly, the investigation has been closed. This action is not to be construed as a determination that a violation may not have occurred, just as the pendency of an investigation should not be construed as a determination that a violation has occurred. The Commission reserves the right to take such further action as the public interest may require.”
     At the time of the purchase, Strikeforce was viewed as the UFC’s closest competitor in North America. A partnership between kickboxing promoter Scott Coker and Silicon Valley Sports, the operator of the HP Pavilion arena in San Jose, Strikeforce grew from a small, regional mixed martial arts promotion founded in 2006 into a national promoter thanks to television contracts with CBS and Showtime.
     Strikeforce was the UFC’s fourth purchase of a competitor. It bought Las Vegas-based World Fighting Alliance and California-based World Extreme Cagefighting promotions in December 2006 and Japanese promoter Pride Fighting Championships in March 2007.
     All three companied were shut down and several of their fighters signed with the UFC. Former WFA light heavyweight Quentin Jackson, former WEC flyweight Jose Aldo, former WEC bantamweight Dominick Cruz and former Pride light heavyweight Mauricio Rua have all gone on to win world titles in the UFC, among others.
     The UFC has yet to shutter Strikeforce, having promoted a dozen Strikeforce events since the purchase.
     Strikeforce’s next event is scheduled for March 3 in Columbus, Ohio, headlined by a title fight between the promotion’s female bamtamweight chamption Miesha Tate and judoka Rhonda Rousey.

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