Why Strikeforce Still Matters

This Fan Post was promoted to the front page by Nick Thomas.

Word is that Strikeforce is a bit of a lame duck. The news that middleweight Jason "Mayhem" Miller is making the move to the UFC seems to confirm any suspicions that Strikeforce's days are numbered. And why not? Whereas the organization was once seen as a viable, relatively high-profile alternative for those mixed martial artists working outside the UFC (either by choice or circumstance), and whereas Strikeforce once acted as a nice bit of leverage at the UFC's negotiating table, it seems that Strikeforce will soon be incapable of functioning in either capacity. Now that it's owned by Zuffa, the idea that Strikeforce would maintain with any earnestness a bidding war with the UFC is naïve. Similarly, it's fair to say that Dana White's personal preferences and frustrations will, down the line, influence Strikeforce's dealings with talent--he has, after all, already begun to exert control over Strikeforce's media coverage, this in spite of White's mantra of "business as usual."

So then, if it's not nipping at the UFC's heels, why keep Strikeforce around any longer than necessary? Well, I can give you a whole bunch of reasons: King Mo and Keith Jardine, Lavar Johnson and Robbie Lawler, Mike Kyle, Ovince St. Preux, Tyron Woodley, and Evangelista Santos. In the last twelve months, all of them have been featured on the main card of a Strikeforce event, showing flashes of genius and competing with admirable ferocity. They are a group of compelling prospects and veterans of serious reputation. They are, by-and-large, not ready for the UFC.

When it comes to the likes of Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal or, say, Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante, what we have is someone who could develop into a top-notch wrecking machine, if given the time and space. What a shame it would be for fight fans, then, if the UFC did indeed absorb Strikeforce, and Cavalcante fell through the cracks; what a shame if Lawal were pulled to the upper echelon too early. After all, that sudden rise to the top can give a career the bends.

Personally, I'd much rather see Lawal and Cavalcante--and Shane del Rosario and Tarec Saffiedine and Roger Gracie--proceed more deliberately through their career. The operative word, of course, being "see." Because if Strikeforce does disappear, those fighters who aren't yet ready for the UFC will be doing a lot of their work on untelevised shows. And that goes double for the likes of Cyborg Santos and Keith Jardine--exciting fighters who, nevertheless, have already had their shot at the big time and fallen short. This leaves us with hearing about Cung Le versus Scott Smith through the grape vine, and reading about Sergei Kharitonov's comeback on some weekend rundown. Unacceptable! I spit on weekend rundowns!

This isn't to say that the UFC doesn't offer similar thrills. Rather, it's that we can't get enough. Which brings us to another point. Even if each and every Strikeforce fighter was ready for the big stage, the UFC couldn't accommodate them. Plenty of analysis on the subject has already been done on the UFC's roster, in the wake of the WEC merger particularly, and the takeaway is that the UFC isn't expanding. Rosters are constantly being trimmed, and there's no reason to think that this would change following a merger with Strikeforce. Hence that organization's significance. Taking for granted that Strikeforce is indeed operating with its own budget and profit margins, we can say that Zuffa's two promotions can put on more shows separately than if the UFC were to simply absorb Strikeforce. And that's exactly why fight fans should be hoping that Strikeforce pulls through.

Ideally, Strikeforce would remain as a proving ground for tomorrow's great contenders, and a stage for the slowing veterans who still know how to put on a show-surely Renato Sobral is too good for us to be catching his latest fight on some fan-shot Youtube video, and surely someone like Luke Rockhold is too exciting an up-and-comer to not see with our own eyes. That MMA needs another visible promotion becomes yet more apparent when you consider the nascent female divisions, and the increasing migration of fighters from the Japanese circuit looking to lay down roots and fists in the more profitable North American market.

I don't want to see the UFC replace Strikeforce because, really, it can't. Not comprehensively. There are simply too many mixed martial artists, there are too many fights I want to see. When it comes to the UFC and Strikeforce, the world's too big for just the one of them.

Rainer Lee
On my couch, watching Repo Games

Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum coverage

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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