The end is neigh for Strikeforce and the only one not weeping is Stephen Espinoza and Showtime. When the two companies came together I'm sure their relationship was on solid ground, but when Zuffa and Dana White suddenly came into the picture via a purchase of Strikeforce, the once positive partnership changed for the worse.
Showtime never trusted Dana White, Dana White didn't trust Showtime and had some harsh words for then boxing head Ken Hershman who nows works for Showtime's rival HBO. It was an uneasy agreement brought together by Strikeforce and a television contract that was extended earlier this year.
Stars like Ronda Rousey and Daniel Cormier were keeping Strikeforce afloat and keeping fans interested in the company despite it's lack of legitimate stars. Despite having a genuine attraction in Rousey, whom Showtime had an All Access special on, the sense around the network was that mixed martial arts and Strikeforce came second to Showtime's combat sports bread and butter: Boxing.
There was never really a thought that Showtime had more of an vested interest in the survival and success of Strikeforce over that of boxing. Stephen Espinoza signed a huge deal with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy promotions which included rising Mexican super star and current WBC 154 pound talent Saul Alvarez. With Alvarez in the stable, and fighters like Abner Mares, Danny Garcia, and Miguel Cotto all holding big fights on the network, it's easy to see why Showtime really didn't put much effort into growing Strikeforce beyond its current state.
That's not to say however that Strikeforce deserves to be folded because it doesn't. I loved Strikeforce and enjoyed all their fights. But unfortunately in the business world most companies go with the hottest hand, their key to success long term, for Showtime it's boxing, not mma.
Starting in December fans will be treated to former 2012 Olympians showcasing their talent in the boxing rings as professionals when Showtime, Golden Boy Promotions, and CBS join forces to deliver boxing on network television. The idea behind it is to build these former Olympians, as mainstream figures to a broader audience. This planned card will also feature promising heavyweight prospect and 2008 Olympic bronze medal winner Deontay Wilder.
It kind of makes you wonder why CBS stopped televising Strikeforce cards on the weekends. I wonder if the Zuffa purchase had anything to do with that. My brother told me they still had a contract in place for CBS to air fights but apparently not anymore.
Ultimately the decision now lies with Zuffa and the UFC. It would benefit them to bring most of the fighters over and allow them to fight the best in the world. As far the women, well you only have one true star among the female fighters. And while I detest everything about Ronda Rousey and long for the day when Marloes Coenen or Cris Cyborg returns to knock her into the next millennium, she's clearly the driving force to introduce wmma to a much larger and more mainstream audience beyond young males who play Xbox all day and can't keep their hand out of their pants. You know, the Mountain Dew drinkers between 18-25.
If the UFC decides not to set up a platform for the women, there's always Invicta FC and Bellator. I think Bellator would be the better option if the UFC doesn't take the women in. Bellator is owned by Viacom which owns CBS, which actually brings Showtime right back into the picture.
Rest in peace Strikeforce, you had a real chance once.