Strikeforce won the battle on Saturday night, but can they win the war? They sure can.
The war between the UFC and Strikeforce has been a constant topic of discussion among fans over the last couple of years. While Scott Coker and Dana White would imply that there is no war to be waged, it doesn't necessarily need to be said. When two companies are competing for top tier talent and one of those companies is trying to grab a market share from the top promotion in the world, it's hard to sell that there isn't a competition.
Last night, the underdog was victorious. A rare victory, but not surprising considering the star-studded line-up that was put up against a season of The Ultimate Fighter contestants and somewhat humdrum match-ups. Unfortunately, Strikeforce hasn't had the best luck in producing exciting events, even when some of their most explosive punchers have been involved. This event was far from lackluster, and it was an event that fans will remember for a very long time.
It's irrelevant to argue about where this war stands. Obviously, the UFC is the #1 promotion in the world, Strikeforce currently sits at #2. But there are some interesting tidbits to consider coming out of this event. Most notably, where does Strikeforce go from here? A great event that should hopefully get some well deserved press for the following week or two, but ultimately overshadowed by the UFC's brand and marketing.
The outlook for the future is the most interesting discussion. Matt Lindland is likely going to retire very soon, if not now. Scott Smith is probably two years away from the same fate, or if you believe Zach Arnold over at Fight Opinion -- he should consider retirement as well. Despite crushing Renato "Babalu" Sobral in spectacular fashion, Henderson isn't getting any younger, and there is always the speculation that fighters like Robbie Lawler and Paul Daley are looking for a rebirth in the UFC.
Fortunately, Strikeforce still has a number of fights that I want to see, and their depth of talent, while not as immense as the UFC's talent pool, is enough to sustain them while they try to vie for new prospects in 2011. Almost every single division has a fight that should be worth watching in the future, and their partnership with DREAM should bring a few more bouts to fruition as long as FEG can keep afloat. If not, Strikeforce may need to throw a little money around to vastly improve their roster before the UFC can snap up those fighters.
There is also the issue involving Fedor's contract negotiation and the rumor that they are trying to use his status as a way to push M-1 into the North American MMA scene. Most fans see this as a deceptive tactic, but M-1's ultimate goal is to be featured on television in the United States with their label stamped on it. Sure, it's absurd to use that as leverage, but seeing where Fedor currently sits in his career and his management's continued stance that they want to push M-1's exposure to new heights -- it isn't surprising at all.
But M-1 isn't a horrible partner when it comes to their roster of fighters and their fight promotion. They've put on some well put together shows in Europe and Asia, and they have the inside edge on a lot of the talent coming out of those regions of the world, especially Russia and the Eastern bloc. While many fans disagree with their management, it's hard to ignore the bevy of prospects they've showcased.
In the end, Strikeforce sits in a good position right now, and it isn't due to the fact that last night's event was a huge success. Although, that success was a direct result of Strikeforce's ability to last. Under the circumstances of being outdone in ratings and revenue, Strikeforce continues to remain relevant despite having limited resources. They've been able to put on some huge fights, remain competitive in the free agent market, and have proven to have staying power by having a partner in Showtime.
There is this perception that we need to label a winner in this war, but in reality -- Strikeforce is far from a loser. Can Strikeforce compete in the war? They already are, and the war is irrelevant if they can continue to do so.