In 1999, as the entire sport of MMA in North America ground to a halt in the face of political pressure and cable company shenanigans, one man had a dream. Terry Trebilcock didn't just want to promote MMA shows-he wanted to promote wacky and fun shows. At Indian Casinos. Whether it was raining or not. And he wanted to package those shows into giant DVD sets that he would sell at Best Buy for the bargain price of $10.
King of the Cage was something special in those early days. I loved watching King of the Cage DVD's. They were singular in their ability to be both fascinatingly great and truly awful, all in the same two hour block. The mix of talent was, to say the least, unusual. The promotion featured local talent, plenty of fat super heavyweights wearing t-shirts to cover their heaving man boobs, MMA stars in between gigs, and fistfuls of rising stars (Quinton Jackson, Joe Stevenson, Diego Sanchez, and Rashad Evans were all King of the Cage stars before moving on to the bright lights of bigger shows).
More (and some classic fights) after the jump
It struck me last night, watching Strikeforce, that Scott Coker's promotion isn't a UFC clone-it's a new age King of the Cage. The amazing card last night was right out of Trebilcock's playbook. Gritty So Cal guys throwing down with reckless abandon? Check. Former UFC star past his prime fed to a young lion on his way up the ranks? Check. Obscure foreign stars trading wildly in front of a confused crowd unsure who to cheer for? Check. Former UFC stalwarts doing battle in a main event that was amazing, but also probably inconsequential in the scheme of things? Check.
That's what makes shows like this so great. It doesn't matter that Renato Sobral is no longer a world class fighter, that he's never likely to challenge Shogun Rua to a rematch of one of the UFC champ's handful of losses. It doesn't matter that Cyborg is a one-dimensional brawler who wouldn't crack the top 10 fighters in his weight class on his very best day. With a show like this you can just simply turn your brain off. No worries about how this changes the MMA landscape. It doesn't. It was just guys throwing down in a cage. And it was awesome.
It's foolish for Strikeforce to allow comparisons to the UFC. By that measuring stick, they will always look second rate. But if you think of them as guys just trying to put on an entertaining Trebilcockian show—it changes the equation.
In celebration of this nisei KOTC-some diverse King of the Cage classics:
Charles Bennett v Jeff Curran - KOTC Redemption on the River (via fightrumors)
Urijah Faber vs. Bibiano Fernandes (via Rossonero1)
Quinton Jackson Vs Marvin Eastman 1 (via uk9951)
Super Heavyweight KOTC : Travis Fulton vs. Ricco Rodriguez (via FightXtreme)