"If you would play the game even a little, you'd be in a position where you could change things around here."
- Dr. Benson, Scrubs
Tonight's Strikeforce on CBS event is arguably the biggest to date for Strikeforce, featuring the world's best fighter. Yet, as important as this card is for Strikeforce, the reality is that Fedor is not a fighter that's shown the ability to draw as a headliner. My latest column on Heavy.com addresses the unfortunate difficulties of promotion the world's best fighter.
It makes Fedor’s relationship with Strikeforce particularly compelling. They are the latest promotion to wind up in bed with M-1, on the hook for similar financial considerations as previous promoters who’ve worked with Fedor. There are a variety of reasons why the move makes more sense for Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, and to be brief, the decision has a greater potential for reward than it carried in the past. Still, we’re talking about a high-priced fighter with limited appeal being used as an international star for a promotion that has only just taken their business national. Calling it a recipe for disaster wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable.
Not that it's destined to fail in the same way that relationships with BODOGFight and Affliction were, but the problem is that Fedor's greatest potential to match his drawing power to his talent level is to be seen by the audience at large as the greatest in the world. Putting aside the fact that promoting a fighter as the greatest in the world has not yet been an effective strategy, Fedor has a very small talent pool in Strikeforce with which to prove his status as the best to a mainstream audience.
Let’s not forget the issue that looms over the entire Fedor circumstance: He’s not fighting the champ. Certainly the champ he should be fighting is Brock Lesnar, the sports biggest star and rightful challenger to Fedor’s proverbial throne, but it’s well documented that the fight won’t be happening. And yet, Fedor can’t even get a fight with Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem, who is unavailable due to commitments in kickboxing and with other MMA promotions. That would be fine if Overeem had defended his title, oh, say, at any point ever, but he has yet to do so in his more than two years as champion. Overeem has mentioned that he’d like to fight Fedor in the first half of 2010, but you’ll forgive if I don’t hold my breath for that one.
Of course, in the past couple hours we've learned that Fedor will fight Rogers for the phony baloney WAMMA Heavyweight title, which has about as much significance to anyone as Fedor's days in PRIDE do to the casual audience in 2009. And what's up with the announcement of the title being on the line being made less than 24-hours prior to the match? That's some low-rent stuff right there.
For more on the Fedor Conundrum, check out my full column at Heavy.com.
(art via Heavy.com)