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CBS Kept Strikeforce, Dan Henderson Twisting in the Wind

I think Dan Henderson is forgetting that the ratings for Strikeforce on CBS spent as much time pinned on the floor as he did against Jake Shields.
I think Dan Henderson is forgetting that the ratings for Strikeforce on CBS spent as much time pinned on the floor as he did against Jake Shields.

Ariel Helwani gets Henderson's side of the story:

"I was wanting to get back in there pretty quickly, but I think part of the problem was CBS kind of a little bit faltering on their commitment to mixed martial arts, especially after the little escapade in the cage after my last fight on CBS.

"You know, I don't quite understand that and they're definitely still wanting to be involved in mixed martial arts and with Strikeforce, but I think they're just gonna take their time on it a little bit more."

"It is disappointing [to not fight on CBS again], and the fact that that could have been easily avoided with the guys not coming into the cage after my last fight. It just gave them an out. But I also think that if CBS had a big problem with it, they didn't need to put it on their Web site, didn't need to replay it a bunch of times."

"I don't know if they're trying to renegotiate or get a little bit more out of the door, but I think they're definitely still going to be on board. But that's kind of what they were waiting on. [Strikeforce] wanted me to be on the next CBS card and CBS took a while and finally [Strikeforce] just got tired of waiting. I thought I was going to fight two, three months ago, but that's the way it goes."

The fact that Strikeforce and Dan Henderson expected to get another crack at a CBS show after the monumental ratings disaster that was Strikeforce: Nashville reflects an incredible naivete about network television. 

I think Henderson was manipulated by Dana White into walking into Strikeforce's arms. He had opportunities to return and headline both UFC 103 and UFC 109 but chose to decline both to go with the Strikeforce deal. I honestly think he was presented with a number of bad options and made his decisions based on his personal feelings rather than sound business calculations.  

The fact that he thought for a minute, much less months, that CBS would be airing another Strikeforce card after Strikeforce: Nashville tells it all.

The show went overtime by something like forty minutes, featured three long and slow five round decisions back to back to back, was marred by a brawl and got terrible ratings that got worse the longer the show went on. That last part is the only thing that really mattered. 

I blogged extensively about it at the time. Strikeforce/Showtime made a rookie's mistake in booking three title fights on the same card. Zuffa made that same mistake at the infamous UFC 33. The biggest mistake going into Strikeforce: Nashville was M-1 Global's incredibly boneheaded mistake of holding Fedor Emelianenko off the card. That moment represented a now lost opportunity to follow up on his impressive debut on CBS in November 2009. Fedor fought well, pulled in good ratings and was positioned for a major media push had he returned to CBS in April.

Then he sat out the show, it was a flop and Fedor lost his next fight. 

The rest is history for Fedor's career, Strikeforce and Showtime. I think that it's also the end of MMA on network television for the foreseeable future.

Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Sobral coverage

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