Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You
Trying to go head to head with the UFC never ends well. Affliction, EliteXC, IFL. All dust in the wind. For the past few years Strikeforce has been playing it safe. They were a small promotion that stuck with regional shows. They didn’t spend too much money and didn’t go gunning for big name talent. And for this, Dana White has left them alone. In fact over the years, Dana has had nothing but nice things to say about Strikeforce CEO; Scott Coker.
However, as of late Strikeforce has been doing the exact opposite. Over the past few months they have picked up the contracts of former EliteXC and Affliction fighters. They also took over the television contract EliteXC had with CBS and Showtime. Basically they have decided to branch out. For this Dana and the UFC might have flinched and put up their guard, but didn’t throw any punches. By that I mean, counter programming. The UFC is notorious for it! Two weeks ago Strikeforce actually went ahead and threw the first punch with the signing of top MMA free agent Fedor Emelianenko. With that acquisition, they have officially drawn a line in the sand and announced to the world that the UFC is not the only game in town.
Last Saturday night was the first show for Strikeforce since they signed Fedor and the counter programming has begun. The Strikeforce show aired on Showtime and the UFC re-aired UFC 100 on Spike TV. It is very scary that early ratings are showing that the pre-taped UFC show crushed Strikeforce. We do have to remember though that not everyone has Showtime and that this card was not what it once was. A month ago it was gearing up to be an amazing night of fights. Four titles fights and scores to be settled. Unfortunately injuries and drug tests (Nick Diaz-puff, puff, pass) forced three of those fights to get scratched. That being said, did Strikeforce get off on the wrong foot in their battle with the UFC? What happens next for them? Did Fedor make the right move in not signing with the UFC? From where I’m standing it doesn’t look good.
Don’t get me wrong, the Strikeforce event was great. They scrambled and put together some very good matches. The main event was a first of its kind. Two woman headlining a card with men one it. They had the state side debut of Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi. Names like Jay Hieron, “Babalu” Sobral, and Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez appeared on the card. Hardcore fans of the sport would still be watching. But will they continue to watch?
As each fight ended, exactly as most predicted each would, you couldn’t help but wonder what they could do next. In case you didn’t already know, Gina Carano the beautiful face of womens MMA got clobbered by the gender bending “Cyborg” Santos. Ok, that was mean. She is a woman. I think? Anyway, can female fighting survive the blow of having such a manly looking womens champ? Wasn’t the whole appeal of Gina Carano her toughness and good looks? Will “Cyborgs” first title defense generate as much media attention as this one did? I doubt it very much. Will it kill womens MMA? Probably not but I can’t see it helping at all. What about Gegard Mousasi destroying “Babalu” in just one minute? Who on earth can Strikeforce put up against this guy that would stand a chance? Bobby Southworth? Hell no! No disrespect but Strikeforce doesn’t exactly have a deep light heavyweight division. Sure “The Dreamcatcher” is fun to watch but how many one sided fights can you see.
Now as for Fedor Emelianenko, did he make the right call signing with Strikeforce? Absolutely not! What was he thinking? Forget about money or anything else you may have heard. If you want to be considered the best fighter in the world, you have to fight the best in the world. Who can Strikeforce give Fedor that would legitimize his standing as the best? The top three in their heavyweight division are Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum and Brett Rogers. All three are tough contenders, but best in the world. Are you kidding me? Look at the UFC heavyweight division. Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez, “Big Nog”, Gabe Gonzaga. These heavyweights are the top of the food chain and there is no doubt about it. A first fight has not been announced yet for Fedor but when it does, you can bet your ass the UFC will be counter programming it with something very special.
Over the years Strikeforce has been picking up the contracts of the fighters that couldn’t make it in the UFC. The guys that couldn’t make it in the big show so to say. Those days may be over. The UFC has no money issues. They can afford to pick up or keep anybody they want. They have started already and don’t look to be stopping anytime soon. The lines have been drawn. Sides have been chosen. The war has begun. Careful Scott Coker and Strikeforce, you may have picked a fight you can’t win. Be prepared for the UFC to unleash hell! Or as Dana White would say “Fuck You”.
About Phil Devine Phil is a producer and co-host of "Sirius Fight Club" which airs on Sirius 127 / XM 105 @ 5-7pm ET Live Tuesdays & Fridays.