Zuffa Targeting Strikeforce's Pay-Per-View Debut in July

Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog

Speculation about a Strikeforce pay-per-view event has existed since the company signed Fedor Emelianenko in the wake of Affliction's collapse in the summer of 2009. Emelianenko signed a three-fight deal, and the original plan was to build toward a PPV fight with two appearances on CBS. After defeating Brett Rogers in November 2009, Fedor's management decided to hold out and renegotiate with the company, missing out on Strikeforce's now-infamous CBS show in Nashville. Fabricio Werdum submitted Emelianenko two months later, and PPV plans were put on hold.

Discussion rose again with Scott Coker's announcement of a heavyweight grand prix tournament in January of this year. Stock full of the company's top heavyweight talent -- Emelianenko, Werdum, champion Alistair Overeem, Antonio Silva, and others, it seemed natural to end the tournament on PPV. Antonio Silva handled Emelianenko, who was still the major attraction despite the Werdum fight, and Strikeforce had issues securing a location for the second leg of the tournament, which had originally been scheduled for this tomorrow night.

Then the UFC's parent company, Zuffa, LLC, purchased Strikeforce from Scott Coker and Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment on March 12th. Dana White decreed that Strikeforce would operate "business as usual," but now reports are surfacing that the company is looking at a PPV date in July. MMA Weekly reports:

MMAWeekly.com sources indicated that Strikeforce is targeting a date in July for a pay-per-view broadcast, but a specific date and location have yet to be determined.
As far as the fight card for that show, additional sources have stated that a light heavyweight bout between former champion Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal and grappling wizard Roger Gracie is likely to take place on the event's main card.

There's two issues to discuss here.

First, the rumored main card bout of Mo Lawal vs. Roger Gracie features two talents that have some name recognition, but are not Strikeforce's biggest stars by any means. Neither fighter has any experience on MMA PPV, and "King Mo" has the only headlining fight between the two when he lost Strikeforce's light heavyweight title to Rafael Cavalcante in Houston.

The other issue is the saturation of the PPV market.  The UFC already has four PPV events scheduled between now and July 2nd. UFC 133 and the UFC's return to Brazil are both scheduled in August, and both are likely to be PPV shows. How will fans react to dishing out cash for five shows within a three-month span, especially for a roster of fighters that they have grown accustomed to watching for free (or a nominal monthly subscription fee)?

[EDIT 11:06 a.m. ET] - It was pointed out in the comments that Lawal vs. Gracie is rumored to be on the main card, and not necessarily the main event. I expect some combination of Dan Henderson, Nick Diaz, and the heavyweight grand prix to appear at the top of this show.


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