Scott Coker must have vomited.
Here he was being told by his bosses, that after growing his baby, his company from a local kickboxing promotion to a worldwide mixed martial arts promotion, with working partnerships with the biggest MMA promotion in Japan, the biggest kickboxing organization in the world, and the biggest MMA promotion in Russia, that they were pulling the plug.
But why, Coker must have asked. Reports show that the company banked $30 million in revenue for the 2010-2011 fiscal season. They had the sack to do what the UFC didn't, they put on a Heavyweight Grand Prix featuring some of the best fighters in the world. They had Fedor, they got Josh Barnett licensed, Nick Diaz was fast-becoming the best welterweight in the world, or at the least most exciting, their women's divisions were building a fan base. They weren't averse to crossing whatever boundaries they needed to oblige by in the hopes of putting on fun fights.
That was something you could always say about Strikeforce cards. You didn't know who was next in line for whatever belt, you didn't know who would be there next card, you didn't know who would leave or who they would bring in, but you were absolutely guaranteed entertaining, jump-off-your-couch, holy shit fights.
With all that in the bank, Scott Coker was told by his bosses, the bigwigs that run the San Jose Sharks, possibly the biggest choke-artists in professional sports, that they were going to dedicate Strikeforce's operating costs towards building a Stanley Cup winning team.
Gentlemen, let me tell you, as a diehard hockey fan, money does not buy a championship team. San Jose has never been wanting for salary cash, they just don't know how to put a team together. If money bought Stanley Cups, the Rangers would have won twelve of them in the past fifteen years with Toronto winning the other three. None of those have happened.
If Silicon Valley Sports Entertertainment, as an enterprise was interested in succeeding, they would have kept Strikeforce. There was plenty of cross-promotion to be had there. Alistair Overeem and Miesha Tate doing a puck drop at a Sharks game. Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle being guest-ring announcers at a Challengers event, etc...
Strikeforce was never going to overtake the UFC. The sad part is that they carved their niche, and it was a much-needed niche, to the tune of thirty-million dollars. Unfortunately, Scott Coker learned a lesson the hard way. Unless your company is FULLY, and I do mean FULLY behind you like the Ferttitas were behind the UFC, like Bjorn Rebney and his partners are behind Bellator, and hell, even those who are behind long-time companies like Rage in the Cage, KOTC, Shooto, CFC, Extreme Challenge (maybe the most unheralded MMA promotion in the world), etc..., you can't compete as a global entity. SCVE viewed Strikeforce as a fun little project that they could give tickets to partners and they could pose with fighters with their fists raised and be "the cool kids". When Coker took them at their word and transformed the company into a worldwide force, they saw their little novelty project as something that outgrew itself.
They saw Strikeforce as their model trainset that they enjoyed watching three cars ride around the Christmas tree. They didn't want a sixteen-car locomotive encircling the entire house no matter how many people would pay to see it.
So five years from now (with me running BE, natch), we'll look back on Strikeforce, but it should never be met with a condescending smirk. Strikeforce should be looked at like the kid who worked his way up in school to be accepted to Princeton. However, his parents didn't want to pay for it, so he ended up dying in the shipyards like everyone else in his family.
Finally, to paraphrase a famous football movie, quote: I love Strikeforce, and I'd like all of you to love them too. And so tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love Strikeforce.