Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson - Does Strikeforce Actually Matter?

It would be fair to say without any hyperbole that 2011 has been the worst year in Strikeforce's long history. There were major plans to establish the Heavyweight division with the Grand Prix, at a time when the UFC's own division seemed to stagnate with injuries to the stars at the top. Cain Velasquez would be out because of a shoulder injury, The Ultimate Fighter season 13 would shelve both Junior Dos Santos and Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin was out with a back injury, and Frank Mir was in the doghouse because of a horrid showing against Mirko Filipovic at UFC 119. The planned return of Lesnar would be further delayed by a second bout with diverticulitis. Needless to say the Grand Prix was Strikeforce's shot at the big time.

Unfortunately the best laid plans of mice and men means Fedor Emelianenko gets knocked out of the tournament in the opening round against an unmarketable Antonio Silva and an unknown Sergei Kharitonov knocks out the fan favorite Andrei Arlovski. The promotion failed to follow up on the first leg of the Grand Prix in a timely enough manner that much of the initial interest had died down. In between the time waiting for the Grand Prix to continue, Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz threatened to walk away from the promotion to pursue boxing. Diaz was arguably the only true star in Strikeforce's stable and thanks to a loophole in his contract, he was dropped and signed by the UFC to fight against Georges St. Pierre

The second leg of the Grand Prix was supposed to be the return of Gina Carano, something that more fans seemed to care about than the actual Heavyweight fights. Unfortunately, there was an unknown medical reason that caused Carano to pull from the card. To this day no one has any idea what was wrong or why she didn't fight. The fights themselves went off just fine but the only other marketable fighter in the tournament, Alistair Overeem, had an absolutely abysmal showing in his victory over Fabricio Werdum.

Since the June 18th event, Strikeforce hasn't run a major card. They have; however, recently been in the news thanks to Alistair Overeem's appearance on Ariel Helwani's MMA Hour where he stated that he would not and could not fight on the planned September 10th date. He cited a broken toe and a litany of other excuses about why this was not a good date but one in October would be acceptable. Later that day Golden Glory's United Glory promotion released a poster with Overeem front and center. Also on the poster was fellow teammate and Grand Prix semi-finalist Sergei Kharitonov. Early last night it was announced that Strikeforce had released Overeem from his contract. 

Tonight is the culmination of a strong media push to sell fans on the bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson, a battle between two all time Pound for Pound greats. The real question is: Does it even matter for Strikeforce at this point? A win by Dan would effectively retire Fedor and a Fedor win doesn't really do much to reestablish him as relevant in the division. The only organization that can afford either fighter's services is Zuffa. At 40 years old Dan Henderson isn't a fighter you can build a division around and with the specter of M-1 looming over Fedor's head, he's not exactly a fighter Zuffa would be excited to work with. 

Unfortunately the fact of the matter is that at this point with Nick Diaz gone, Gina Carano starting to do press for "Haywire", and Alistair Overeem cut, Strikeforce is no longer relevant. Booking fights because they are fun is a way to build fan interest but running an organization where two different managers have the power to dictate matchmaking has cause irreparable damage. The organization tried to build a brand but failed to deliver on promises to fans and fighters. Tonight isn't the culmination of a huge media push. No, instead tonight is the first nail in the death of Strikeforce. And really, does anyone care? Does anyone even realize how bad the future of this company actually is? Tonight should be promoted under the "Strikefarce" banner because that's what this company has always been. A farce.

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