Is Strikeforce Really Considering Roger Gracie vs Gegard Mousasi?

Roger Gracie was able to use a considerable height/reach advantage to make his striking look better than it is against Trevor Prangley but that won't work against Gegard Mousasi. Photo by Scott Petersen via MMA Weekly

Strikeforce takes a fair amount of heat for their booking decisions. But honestly, they do a damn fine job of making the most of a very thin roster. For example, Evangelista "Cybrog" Santos certainly didn't merit a title shot against Nick Diaz, but he sure as hell made for a great fight.

Where Strikeforce is really deficient is their inability to develop talent and build home grown stars. They didn't know what the heck to do with Bobby Lashley, but that didn't prevent them from paying him a fair amount of money to beat Wes Sims and lose to Chad Griggs. They don't seem to know what to do with Shane del Rosario, having only given him three fights in three years under contract. 

And now it looks like they're considering rushing Roger Gracie into a fight with Gegard Mousasi. Per MMA Weekly:

The latest fight in talks for the (April 9th) card pits former light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi against multiple time grappling champion Roger Gracie.

While no bout agreements have been issued, sources have indicated to MMAWeekly.com that the fighters have at least verbally agreed to the match-up at this point.

That's right. If this report is correct (and I trust MMA Weekly's reporting as a rule), Strikeforce is considering booking the 4-0 Roger Gracie against the 30-3-1 Gegard Mousasi.

Gracie, whose toughest opponent was the 38 year old puffed up middleweight Trevor Prangley, has shown real promise by working hard to develop a rudimentary striking game to compliment his all-universe submission skills. But by no stretch of the imagination is he ready to face Mousasi, the #11 Light Heavyweight in the world in our USAT/SBNation Consensus MMA Rankings

Mousasi combines top level striking with a solid submission game. He's definitely got the skills to bust up Roger on the feet and quite possibly can survive a couple of minutes on the ground with Gracie. 

That Strikeforce is even considering rushing Gracie like this indicates a couple of factors:

  1. Gracie is pulling down a big paycheck and they can't afford to build him slowly.
    According to the California State Athletic Commission, Gracie got $75,000 (with no win bonus) for beating Prangley. That's compared to the $20,000 that Cyborg got to fight for the Strikeforce WW title in the headliner on the card.  It's hard for a fighter like Roger Gracie who's got a big name -- in his case both the family name he inherited and his hard-earned reputation as the best competition grappler in the history of sport jiu jitsu -- to develop slowly. Their notoriety brings attention and earning opportunities that are hard to turn down. 
     
  2. Strikeforce doesn't have enough room on their cards to book Mike Kyle vs Gegard Mousasi. 
    Strikeforce has a large roster given the small number of cards it puts on and the very small number of fights on those cards. Given that they don't book undercard fights with fighters under contract, Strikeforce is limited to 4 or 5 fights per card. They haven't used Mousasi since April of 2010. They need to get him a fight ASAP. But unfortunately neither Mousasi nor Mike Kyle is a name to the casual fans Strikeforce depends on for ratings. 

  3. Strikeforce needs Roger Gracie on the card.
    Even the most casual MMA fan has been trained to notice the Gracie name. If, as this report seems to indicate, the April 9th card won't include the heavyweight tournament fights but will instead be headlined by Gilbert Melendez vs Tatsuya Kawajiri lightweight title fight, Strikeforce will be desperate to add some names to the card. Given that neither Herschel Walker nor Gina Carano will be fighting, they don't have a lot of options. 
I wouldn't want Scott Coker's job right now. 

Strikeforce in April coverage

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