Edited and Promoted to the Front Page by Anton Tabuena
January 5th 2011 we learned that Strikeforce was going to hold a heavyweight tournament designed to shock the world. Right off the bat many people wondered if Strikeforce could pull it off, nearly 6 months later not only do those concerns still remain a whole new set of concerns have popped up. The biggest development has been that the company was bought out by Zuffa. Dana White has flat out stated numerous times that he isn’t a fan of tournaments and Rich Chou the matchmaker who originally booked the tournament isn’t even with the company anymore. Still it looks like "business as usual" has so far at least appeared that they are planning on finishing this thing but plenty of issues remain so I thought I’d take a look at some of them:
1. Does anyone still even care?
So far in 6 months they have managed to have two tournament fights (and three reserve fights). Hopefully the two coming up June 18th will revive interest but a lot of the initial excitement about this tournament has really died down. Fedor lost in the first round and beyond Overeem vs Werdum the match ups all lack that big time fight feel. Heck the excitement seems to revolve more around future dream match ups between Strikeforce and UFC heavyweights as opposed to Strikeforce heavyweights fighting each other. If they just did Overeem/Werdum vs Bigfoot and then called it a day would anyone be that choked up? For that matter if they just changed Overeem vs Werdum to a title fight and forgot about the tournament altogether would anyone lose any sleep?
2. Josh Barnett
Josh doesn’t have a CSAC license and apparently doesn’t have any plans to ever get one thus he’s always going to be hard to book around for Strikeforce. If he beats Brett Rogers(and honestly he should) then where are they going to hold the next round of fights? Not California, not Nevada and not New Jersey that’s for sure. Strikeforce now being a Zuffa company is going to make it real hard on any fighter who doesn’t have a Nevada fighter’s license. Will Zuffa make special booking arrangements for Josh Barnett to continue in this tournament? Will Zuffa even book events with a fighter that NSAC hasn’t licensed? Heck will Zuffa continue to work with Josh Barnett even if he managed to get a NSAC license? A Brett Rogers loss is going to bring up a lot of questions for this going forward.
3. Brock Lesnar
Sure the recent rumor of Overeem dropping out of the tournament and moving to the UFC doesn’t hold a lot of water but how much water will it hold 6 months from now? Can Overeem fill Brock Lesnar’s shoes? Does Zuffa even expect him to? What’s more important to Zuffa, finishing this tournament or getting a world title contender to fight the winner of Velasquez vs Dos Santos/Carwin? If Overeem beats Werdum in June and Silva this fall and Velasquez defends his belt in October then what’s the more exciting move, Overeem vs Velasquez to unify the belts on New Year’s Eve or Overeem finishing the tournament against Kharitonov/Rogers/Barnett and Velasquez fighting the winner of Mir vs. Nelson? The UFC is looking at a world where Lesnar may be gone for good, Carwin is a short timer and Mir and Big Country are their serious title contenders left.
4. What if Alistair Overeem loses?
If Overeem loses to Werdum does anyone actually want to see a rematch of Werdum vs. Silva? Without Fedor and Overeem is this tournament a lame duck? Part of the problem with the way they top loaded this thing is that it very well could start with a bang and end with a whimper. Without Overeem the reserve bout match ups become nearly as interesting as the tournament ones (the loss of Del Rosario vs. Cormier is a real blow). This darn thing is taking forever and a payoff of Werdum vs. Barnett just doesn't seem to be worth the time or effort.