As I was perusing the different sites today, enjoying the peace of a gray Sunday that December so uniquely brings, I came across one headline that brought a childhood like grin to my face. It read:
We have been hearing rumors of this happening, and maybe this all that is. The article goes on to detail that the participants will include Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Silva, Josh Barnett, Brett Rogers, Andre Arlovski, and Sergei Kharitonov. Damn impressive. If this article isn't just rumor and Strikeforce is able to pull this off it could be one of the most exciting and important MMA events of 2011.
Let's let our imaginations run away for a little bit and look at what the first round might be. If it is done in a traditional seeding bracket, with Alistair as Champ being #1 even though he is not ranked there by anyone but Jesse Holland and Werdum as #2 since he is the #1 contender, the bouts would be as follows:
Alistair Overeem vs Sergei Kharitonov
Fabricio Werdum vs Andre Arlovski
Fedor Emelianenko vs Josh Barnett
Antonio Silva vs Brett Rogers
Ok, I know I flip flopped Barnett and Rogers. That is for the fans benefit. There are a lot of story lines to be found in that first round. Both Reem and Werdum would have the opportunity to avenge losses. Also, we get to see the fight that destroyed an entire promotion in Fedor vs Barnett. People have all sorts of feelings about Barnett, and Fedor for that matter, but it was a fight that I was pumped for a few years ago and would have no problem getting excited about it today. As the losers of the tournament fall off they face fighters like Johnson, Del Rosario and Cormier in cards to come so that by the end of the Grand Prix one of those guys is primed for the big time.
But, look at what happens in the second round if the favorites win. We get to see Silva, who we have seen get hit with what seemed liked wrecking balls in the past and keep going to victory, against someone who is an actual wrecking ball. I would expect The Reem to win this but it would be his biggest test to date at Heavyweight in MMA. Silva would test him and that is what The Reem needs for the skeptics among us to fully buy into his purported awesomeness. In the other bout we get the highly anticipated Fedor/Werdum rematch. To have those two fights on the same card smells like CBS to me. If the marketing of it all is handled right we could be looking at the finals being Strikeforce's inaugural PPV and could set the tone for the company for years to come.
Now, there are a million different contract negotiations to be worked out, I'm hoping that this is truly starting to come together and that is the reason for all the cloak and daggery of late. Strikeforce would have to make sure the Champ at the end sticks around for at least a year after the finals so the tournament doesn't become winner gets a UFC contract. This kind of event should go light years in establishing Strikeforce as an exciting and viable MMA alternative in the United States.
If this is truly being discussed and negotiated it is Scott Coker's greatest test. He has a tremendous sales pitch here to be made to the fighters and their managers and he has to deliver it perfectly. The bottom line is I don't think there is a fan out there that wouldn't flip for something like this. I hope everyone involved in these negotiations realize this and recognize they could be part of something special. Every one of them reads these boards, they scan the top sites like we do. Let's be vocal in our desire to see this happen. Let them hear it so they can see the potential of what this could be.