“When Strikeforce was purchased by the UFC’s parent company Zuffa LLC in March, Strikeforce chairman Scott Coker, has professed that it is ‘Business as Usual’ for the companies. Strikeforce was still to operate as a separate promotion, it would still co-promote with M1-Global to keep the whole Fedor fiasco from collapsing. However, 7 months later is that statement still realistic?”
With several big attractions defecting to the UFC in search of bigger fights and even bigger paydays, can Strikeforce still operate as a ‘Major Promotion’? With talent such as Nick Diaz, Jason Miller, Alistair Overeem and Dan Henderson trickling down to the UFC, the promotion’s increasingly obsolete titles are for the large part vacant. As out of the 5 male weight divisions, only two have currently got a title holder. Luke Rockhold recently defeated ‘Jacare’ Souza to capture the Middleweight title, and Gilbert Melendez, who has been documented as being unsettled at the promotion’s lack of legitimate contenders to his Lightweight title, that he is currently preparing to defend for the 3rd time in December against Jorge Masvidal.
Many experts also believe Gilbert Melendez to be one of the last bastions of Pound 4 Pound talent outside of the UFC. And I agree with them. Other fighters are looking at defecting, ‘King’ Mo Lawal for example has been talking smack recently about UFC Light Heavyweight Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, and looks to be heading towards joining the UFC, 205lb. divisions ranks. What are Strikeforce left with, on final saving grace, and that is that they still have a workable Heavyweight division, it is as of late Overeem-less, but it is possibly the only vacant title that could be filled without people laughing at them.
Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand-Prix has showcased some legitimate talent, Josh Barnett has come back to form and Fabricio Werdum has been able to showcase his cold steel Jiu-Jitsu. However, which of these will be left standing after the UFC finishes courting the Strikeforce talent? Josh Barnett has held the UFC crown before, but in the fight at UFC 36 way back in 2002, he ‘defeated’ Randy Couture, but tested positive for steroids in a mandatory post-fight screening test, and was stripped of the title a mere few hours after winning it. He was swiftly cut from the UFC, never to return. The incident has rendered him almost un-licensable in the UFC’ home of Las Vegas. Werdum may want to return to his former UFC home, but I fear would become just a mere stepping stone in the stacked UFC 265lb division.
Another possible UFC prospect would be Grand-Prix finalist Daniel Cormier, who is a rare mix of heavy hands and Division 1 wrestling, that is not often seen expect in the upper echelons of the division, and would join Cain Velasquez as a truly well-rounded fighter. The Heavyweight division is for the moment solid, but it is not going to last. Zuffa have played a class hand and have developed Strikeforce into what is to become a proving ground for prospective UFC fighters to showcase their skills and wait for the call from Dana White. The rule of the MMA and business is that a promotion cannot work without the talent to put on fights. Sadly, I fear it’s going to be another case of ‘another one bites the dust’ for Strikeforce and the UFC.