The UFC has taken over another mixed martial arts rival, buying Strikeforce. UFC president Dana White confirmed the sale Saturday in a text to The Canadian Press, saying the San Jose-based Strikeforce will continue to be run as a separate entity. Strikeforce, home to such fighters as Fedor Emelianenko, Nick Diaz and Dan Henderson, has been seen as No. 2 among North America MMA promoters although the UFC has been a clear leader in the sport. Still it has survived where others have failed and it has a TV deal in the U.S. with Showtime (Strikeforce is shown on Super Channel in Canada). White says Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker will continue to run the business. "It is literally business as usual," White, speaking of Strikeforce, said in a video posted on the UFC website. White has always spoken positively about Strikeforce and Coker, perhaps because they went about their job without challenging the UFC as others had tried to do. Still Strikeforce managed to beat the UFC to the punch in signing Emelianenko, an MMA icon. White, who refused to become a co-promoter as the Russian fighters management demanded, said at the time he was dumbfounded that his deal had been turned down. The Strikeforce buyout is the UFCs latest attempt to ensure it has the best view over the mixed martial arts landscape. It also gives the UFC another televised showcase to promote the sport. The UFC has bought or absorbed other rivals in the past, including Japans Pride Fighting Championships in 2007, and World Fighting Alliance and World Extreme Cagefighting in 2006. The UFC also struck a deal with Affliction, prompting the clothing manufacture to become a sponsor rather than a rival promoter. It had hoped to continue operating Pride in Japan, but that never happened and the UFC eventually absorbed its new purchase. It essentially bought the WFA for the fighters under contract, with Quinton (Rampage) Jackson at the top of the wanted list. The UFC ran the WEC as a separate entity until December, although it revamped the promotion to focus on the lighter weight class. It has since absorbed the WEC, adding its bantamweight (135-pound) and featherweight (145-pound) weight classes. Strikeforce adds a new ribbon to the UFC empires bow in that it features women. Victorias Sarah Kaufman is a former Strikeforce welterweight champion and the promotion has also featured Julia Budd of Port Moody, B.C. Fighters have moved between the UFC and Strikeforce. Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields joined the UFC after beating former UFC vet Henderson in his Strikeforce debut. Shields is slated to challenge Georges St-Pierre for his welterweight title at UFC 129 in Toronto on April 30. Henderson, who left the UFC after failing to come to contract terms, just won the Strikeforce light-heavyweight championship. The deal makes for some unlikely connections. White turfed Paul (Semtex) Daley after the English welterweight tried to sucker-punch Josh Koscheck at UFC 113 in Montreal last May. Daley now fights for Strikeforce. White has also often shown his distaste for Showtime. Wholesale Authentic Jerseys
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. Letang was greeted by a chorus of sticks clacking on the ice when he joined his teammates on the Consol Energy Center surface on Tuesday morning. The 24-year-old Letang hasnt played since taking an elbow to the head on Nov. 26. "Its been a rough time, honestly sitting at home," Letang said.(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to bounce back from a rough loss in the opener of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, as they host the Philadelphia Flyers in tonights Game 2 at Consol Energy Center. Catch all the action live on TSN, beginning at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt. Also available on TSN Mobile TV. You can also interact with the TSN Community and get updates with TSN.cas Game Night blog during the game. The fourth-seeded Penguins jumped out to a great start in Wednesdays opener, taking a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, but the visiting Flyers scored four unanswered goals and eventually won the contest, 4-3, on Jakub Voraceks goal just 2:23 into overtime. Voraceks game-winner came after some sloppy defensive play by the Penguins in front of their own net. Philadelphia defenseman Matt Carle attempted a centering feed from the left wing and the puck made it on goal. However, Penguins defenseman Kris Letang accidentally cleared the puck to the right side, where Voracek was alone to sweep it into an open net. For the 22-year-old Czech, it was his first career playoff score and it helped give the Flyers the 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. "Even though its almost impossible to come from that far behind, we knew we could do it," Voracek said. "We stuck to the game plan, came back. We had to wait it out, spend the energy for the whole 60 minutes. We came back against them three times already and it shows how hard we work for every goal." Danny Briere scored twice and Brayden Schenn tied the game late in the third for the Flyers and also added two assists. It was the first time Philadelphia had won a playoff game when trailing 3-0 after one period of play. "It took a lot of work to win this game. We cant dwell on it," Briere said. "You celebrate for a few minutes but we have to get ready for Game 2. We have a chance to take both here and then be up 2-0 coming into our building. We might as well go for it." The game did not come without its share of controversy, as Brieres first goal of the contest came on a play where the Flyers sniper was clearly offsides. Still, despite that lucky break, Briere once again proved himself as a playoff performer, as his two-goal night gives him 98 points in 98 career postseason games. Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov shook off some early rust and earned the win with 25 saves. Sidney Crosby, Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis lit the lamp in the opening 20 minutes for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals on 26 shots for the loss. Evgeni Malkin, who led the NHL with 109 points during the regular season, was held off the scoresheet in Game 1. Pittsburgh continued to struggle at home against the Flyers, who entered this series with a 5-1 all-time record at Consol Energy Center. Wednesdays game was Philadelphias first playoff test at Pittsburghs new building, which opened at the start of the 2010-11 campaign. The Flyers hope to extend their success in Pittsburgh tonight and grab a 2-0 edge in the series ahead of Sundays Game 3 in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma would like his club to tie the series tonight and he thinks they can do so by sustaining the excellent start they had in Game 1. "Im not so sure the pace cant be sustained. Its a conscious decision with puck management to be able to play at that speed," Bylsma said. "We werent as good as the game got later. Its not a matter of sitting back." This series marks the sixth all-time playoff meeting between the Flyers and Penguins. Philadelphia won the first three matchups, but Pittsburgh has taken the last two postseason encounters, both of which came in the Crosby-Malkin era. The last series was in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs and Pittsburgh claimed that series in six games en route to a Stanley Cup title. Panthers make postseason return in Game 1 vs. Devils The Florida Panthers will play their first playoff game in 12 years when they host the New Jersey Devils tonight at BankAtlantic Center in the opener of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Catch all the action live on TSN, beginning at 7pm et/4pm pt. Also available on TSN Mobile TV. You can also interact with the TSN Community and get updates with TSN.cas Game Night blog during the game. Florida ended the longest postseason drought in NHL history this season, as the third-seeded Panthers punched a ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2000 by winning the franchises first-ever Southeast Division title. Although Dineens Panthers were rarely impressive in 2011-12, the clubs 38-26-18 record was good enough to finish ahead of the Washington Capitals in the Southeast. Florida won the division despite having four less wins than the Capitals. Florida also had the worst goal differential out of any team in the playoffs this season, giving up 24 more goals than it scored during the regular season. The Capitals are the only other postseason team on the minus side in that category. Three of Floridas top-four scorers this year came to the club during the offseason, including Tomas Fleischmann, who led Florida in both goals (27) and points (61). Kris Versteeg, another summer acquisition, was the leading scorer for the Panthers for much of the season, but missed some time due to injuries and finished third on the club with 54 points (23 goals, 31 assists) in 71 games. Homegrown forward Stephen Weiss, who was selected by Florida with the fourth overall pick of the 2001 draft, centers the toop line with Fleischmann and Versteeg as his wingers.ddddddddddddWeiss led Florida forwards with 37 assists and was second on the team with 57 points. Tonight will mark the 29-year-olds first- ever playoff game. Three of Floridas top eight point producers this season were defensemen. Brian Campbell, who was acquired in the offseason in a trade with Chicago, led all Florida players with 49 assists and was fourth on the team with 53 points. Meanwhile, Jason Garrison exploded for 16 goals from the blue line in 2011-12 after posting just seven goals in 113 NHL games before this season. Dmitry Kulikov also had four goals and 24 assists to finish eighth on the team in scoring. Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen has still not revealed who will start in tonights Game 1 of this series, but if he goes with the hot hand the task will likely fall to former Devil netminder Scott Clemmensen and not Jose Theodore. Clemmensen is best known for his 2008-09 season with New Jersey. The 34-year- old was forced into a starting role for much of that season thanks to an injury to Martin Brodeur and Clemmensen did not waste the opportunity, going 25-13-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average in 40 games. Although Clemmensen has not approached those numbers since signing a three- year deal with Florida following the 2008-09 campaign, he posted an 8-4-1 record from the beginning of February to the end of the regular season. Theodore, meanwhile, last won on March 17 and went 0-3-4 over his final seven starts of the season. Overall, Theodore was 22-16-11 with a 2.46 GAA this season and is 19-28 with a 2.82 GAA in 51 career playoff games. Clemmensen, who was 14-6-6 with a 2.57 GAA this season, has never started an NHL playoff game and his only appearance in the postseason was a seven-minute relief effort for Brodeur during the 2005-06 playoffs. The sixth-seeded Devils may have a lower seed than the Panthers, but New Jersey has earned its favorite status in this matchup. New Jersey finished fourth in the highly-competitive Atlantic Division with 102 points, just seven less than the New York Rangers, who are division champs and the No. 1 seed in the East. Devils head coach Peter DeBoer, like Floridas Dineen, is making his NHL playoff debut as a head coach tonight. DeBoer was fired by the Panthers after the 2010-11 season, making room for Dineen to take over his post. Overall, DeBoers first season with the Devils was a success, as he got New Jersey back to the playoffs after the club missed the postseason last year for the first time since 1996. "Three-quarters of that team is different personnel than what I had there, so they really are [just] another team for now," DeBoer said of facing his former club. "Ill have a few more friends in the crowd in Florida from my time there, but other than that it has no special meaning." The Devils boast a strong group of forwards that is led by wingers Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, who form two-thirds of the clubs potent top line. Kovalchuk posted 83 points (37 goals, 46 assists) in 77 games this season, while Parise was second to Kovalchuk on the team with 31 goals and finished third on the team with 69 points. Travis Zajac will likely center the Parise-Kovalchuk line and had two goals and four assists in just 15 games during an injury-plagued season. All told, New Jersey boasted five players with 20 or more goals this season and four of those snipers had more than 25 markers. David Clarkson scored a career-best 30 goals, while veteran Patrik Elias posted 26 markers and also finished with a team-high 52 assists. Clarkson was bothered by a lower-body injury at the end of the season, but is expected to play in Game 1. Meanwhile, New Jerseys defensemen accounted for just 13 goals this season with Mark Fayne leading the way with four tallies. Veteran blueliner Marek Zidlicky, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Minnesota, had two goals and six assists in 22 games for the Devils and is the clubs best offensive option at the back end. Brodeur, the starting goaltender for all three of the Devils championship teams, has struggled in recent postseasons and the Future Hall of Famer hasnt led New Jersey to a playoff series win since it beat Tampa Bay in the opening round in 2007. Brodeur, who will turn 40 years old in May, still has terrific overall numbers in the playoffs, going 99-82 with a 2.01 GAA and 23 shutouts. He was 31-21-4 with a 2.41 GAA in 59 games this season, while steady backup Johan Hedberg was 17-7-2 with a 2.23 GAA. The last time the Panthers were in a playoff series in the spring of 2000 they wound up getting swept by New Jersey in four games in the opening round. The Devils went on to win their second Stanley Cup title later that spring. The Panthers and Devils split four meetings during the 2011-12 regular season with Florida posting the superior 2-1-1 record thanks to a shootout loss. New Jersey wound up outscoring the Panthers by a slim 12-11 margin over the four games. Brodeur struggled a bit against the Panthers, going 1-2 with a 2.62 GAA in three games. Theodore went 1-0-1 with a 2.40 GAA versus New Jersey, while Clemmensen allowed just one goal in Floridas 3-1 victory over the Devils on Feb. 11. That was Clemmensens only outing against his former team this season, but he is 4-0 with a 2.05 GAA in five career games against the club that drafted him back in 1997. Game 2 of this series is scheduled for Sunday in Florida. The Panthers were 21-9-11 as the host this season, while New Jersey was 24-15-2 on the road. ' ' '