Strikeforce, in my mind, did not die when Zuffa bought them, much like the Roman Empire, you can’t point to when the Barbarians crashed the gate and say, this is when it died. SF had some major problems and was simply put down by Zuffa and its tresures taken to a better, or at least richer, place.
But here are the 4 major times where nails were put into the coffin.
I wrote then, that SF needed to get Mayhem and Diaz in the cage, quick, fast and in a hurry. If they were going to make the jump to PPV, that was the main event, not Cormier/Barnett some years later. Sonnen/Silva II was a million PPV buy event, and there is almost no bad blood until the end from Anderson. Had you gave the world Diaz/Miller, you have Showtime, you have MTV, you had the Gracie camp going nuts. Please tell me that you couldn’t hold a PPV around a Gracie Ju-Ju vs the World idea. Gilbert defends his title, Jake Shields defends his title, and a Main of Diaz/Miller? Throw in some minor guys hanging around the Gracie camp (Heck Roger Gracie was unsigned at the time) and even have some Frank Shamrock haterade/clips thrown in and you cannot tell me that wouldn’t match or exceed any non Chuck/Tito PPV that year the UFC had. This was still the biggest miss in SF history. Even if Diaz CRUSHED Miller- you could have pushed it as DIAZ – Unsensored, and Diaz could have called out everyone from Fedor to Bob Costas. Heck, we may have even got James Toney vs Diaz. Diaz wanted to Box. I don’t see why Showtime couldn’t throw him on a boxing card or two.
No matter what happened, there was an arguement that the UFC had the BEST (or all top 5 or heck, all top 10) Fighters in the WORLD.
Save 1. FEDOR. Dan came over and went 0-2 with his dual belts, Wandy lost, most of the Japanese fighters lost. But Not FEDOR, he went to Affilction, tore apart 2 UFC Heavyweight Champions and looked to be just as strong as before. The problem was, Fedor lost, but lost to guys that were simply not built as world beaters. Look at the 3 guys that have beaten Fedor. 2 had lost repeatedly in the UFC and one wasn’t exactly built up to a threatening guy, even after the invulnerable Fedor lost. Dan Henderson was coming off his UFC 100 win, but lost BADLY to Jake Sheilds. Had Hendo beaten Jake, then that could have meant something. The Hendo loss showed simply how bad FEDOR had fallen and SF no longer had a claim to having the top fighter in ANY weight class, no matter how much you loved Gilbert. Gilbert vs the BJ Penn that showed up vs Deigo or Kenny? The Frankie that went almost an hour with BJ? Even now, the Benson that DOMINATED Nate Diaz? You still have Gilbert beating any of those three men, considering he couldn’t finish Josh Thompson (Three times), Masvidal, Aoki- Whom Eddie dropped in the First Round.
This continued all the way to the final card. Only one fight was competative, and after 2 rounds we all knew how that was ending, not to mention the fact that he was a 3 to 1 underdog going in. The top 2 mismatches (Per vegas) in ZUFFA HISTORY happened on this this card. quite often the biggest mismatches took place in the main card. Strikeforce could give anyone a fight (Lashley, Hershel Walker, Ryan Couture) just to throw in a few fans, but sadly quite often Strikeforce was down to having a THIN roster, just look at the options for Gilbert and Cormier lately. I would bet good money that if Maynard or Pettis was willing to goto Strikeforce, we would have gotten a lightweight title fight this weekend. Show me the Main Card fight you cared about. Other than the one fight that DID get an upset, imagine if all the underdogs won. That would have given the UFC FITS on what to do. Other than Ed Herman, do any of them have JOBS today? Do you think many of the undercard losers get a fight? (How soon before we get Couture/Noons II?) For a promotion that had 8 Showtime cards a year, plus 8 scheduled Challengers card, why couldn’t we get 2 title fights a card? Have each champ fight twice a year, and build the promotion that way? HW/LH/MW/WW/LW and the two womens belts, add a FW or even a crusierweight and you have 8 belts, have 2 defenses a show (or just have 1 card with only 1 title fight a year). That being said, often cards were poorly constructed, and even though Showtime was happy with the results, allegedly, poor gates cost money.
Showtime was in charge of so much of the production. Quadros, Pat, even Ken Shamrock did not get a check from Strikeforce, they got a check from Showtime. Dana might be called a control freak, but that can be a good thing in MMA. Dana knows who is fighting whom, Dana might not know when and where, but he knows the top 10 guys in his division and who fights who and more importantly, who fights who next. I can bet you serious money, that the second Benson signed his 8 fight extension, Dana knew his first 2 fights if he wins. I bet he’s got DC plotted out for the next 2 years, and might even be thinking of what weight class to have him coach on TUF vs CAIN.
As much as I respect Bjorn and Coker, no one, and I mean NO ONE holds a candle to the UFC Matchmakers on this. Strikeforce’s biggest issue has always been ok, I beat this guy, now what? Bellator gets around it with the tourney, but even then the Belt-holders are inactive when they should be fighting. If Benson wants to fight 5 times in 2013, he will. He might end up facing Melvin Gullard by the time December gets here, but he will. There is NO chance a Bellator champion can defend that often, and then you have Champions fighting for almost no reason, non-title defenses should stay in the WWE.
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