Inspired by Stan Lee's Marvel Comics and Matt Horwich's Multiverse Theory
What If... stories initially began with Uatu the Watcher briefly recapping a notable event in the mainstream Marvel Universe, and then indicating a particular point of divergence in that event. He would then demonstrate, by way of looking into a parallel reality, what could have happened if events had taken a different course from that point.
I've seen many assumptions, prophecies, and fantasy match-ups now that Zuffa has purchased Strikeforce. Here are a few plausible but impractical outcomes that have been observed from my moon base since news dropped on Saturday.
"Right now, we're looking to run Strikeforce on Showtime. Business as usual." Dana White
Let's say the Zuffa crew chooses to pluck the cream of Strikeforce's talent for their UFC promotion, but decides to continue the brand for other purposes. What could those purposes be? Scott Coker should promote cards that are anything but usual, without treading the dreaded ‘freakshow' path. Coker has very little time to make Strikeforce a viable option in the eyes of Zuffa and if we in fact do see business as usual, its an indication that Scott Coker has given up completely and Strikeforce will most likely be absorbed. Following the idea that imagination is the beginning of creation, try some innovation.
Continue the Grand Prix format:
From the early days of one night UFC tournaments, to PRIDE, and now Strikeforce, the Grand Prix has given fans an opportunity to see into the minds of match-makers by making the nebulous concrete. While it may or may not result in the winner being given top dog status in their weight class, it's a fantastic ride that builds around fighters as they advance through the bracket. The average fan can see and understand the process: A beats B and will face C in the next round.
Speaking of tournaments, how about an Ultimate Fighter revamp?
This brand is the stalest in UFC, so why not ditch the amateur bout format and give the prospect tournaments the professional treatment. Like any good minor league, Strikeforce can implement the production values of TUF and spin new prospects toward UFC cards. Running multiple weight class tournaments at the same time equals more cards, more fights, and more exposure. And like other pro-sports' minor leagues, Zuffa has the chance with Strikeforce to see how tweaks in the system work before implementing them in the flagship (monitors for judges, including statistical scoring, adding a referee outside the cage, etc.). The NBA has done well with this strategy in their developmental league, in one case advancing the use of instant replay review.
Ring vs. Cage:
What if Strikeforce held Ring matches as opposed to the Cage? We all know there are a multitude of differences between these combat arenas. In the not so distant past, many pundits & fans believed the Strikeforce championship belts (particularly the Heavyweight title) meant nothing and it was hard to debate with them, considering certain management decisions. But the rules were different in that elbow strikes were prohibited on the ground, effectively making the titleholder "the world champion when elbows aren't allowed on the ground." Now that this title has been stripped thanks to Zuffa, why not institute a Ring champion? They still have the precious Unified Rules to stand on, only the foundation requires different preparation by the fighters...and Mirko Cro Cop would love to return to his old stomping grounds.
Introduction of new weight classes:
Dana White has talked about adding the Flyweight class to the UFC and now they have the perfect venue in Strikeforce. Scott Coker has the inside track on acquiring Dream and Sengoku talent, and if the rumors are true about Shooto, Pancrase, & DEEP struggling financially, then he could sign fighters and develop a Flyweight class in Strikeforce that can create a foundation for the UFC.
Now that there is a nice influx of Heavyweight talent in the UFC (positive future thoughts), why not explore expansion with a 235lb class? It would provide another title that Zuffa can sell on PPV and a 235lb class would benefit the lighter side of HW fighters like Cro-Cop, Fedor, and Noguiera, instantly bringing them back into relevancy.
Continue to develop Women's MMA:
Women's MMA is in a curious stage of evolution having the techniques of modern MMA without the able bodies to offer top level competition, which sets it back about 15 years compared to the men's division. If Strikeforce can help to establish at least four weight classes, and get at least 15 talented fighters in each division, Women's MMA could develop into a strong market for Zuffa. If Strikeforce were absorbed fully into the UFC, Zuffa would lose some female fans over the elimination of the women's competition.
"Like you, I must simply wait and observe the events as they occur..." - Uatu the Watcher