Sunday, January 13, 2013
Another one bites the dust
Just like in the business world it is actually a part of, as the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow, some in its wake will suffer the wrath. Thus, as the 1980 rock classic by Queen says, "Another one bites the dust" as world renowned MMA promotion 'Strikeforce' ended its 27 year run Saturday night. I'd like to say it went out with a bang, but in reality it sort of faded away with a whisper.
I realize circumstances beyond their control had a lot to do with the way its final card played out, but I just feel a promotion that gave us so much deserved better in the end; I guess it was to be expected once UFC Parent Company Zuffa took control. Through its MMA run, Strikeforce was always viewed as second fiddle to the UFC, almost like a little brother. However, since being taken over by Zuffa, it was treated more like its little sister.
The reason, in my estimation, has everything to do with business and in the same breath nothing to do with business at all. That is because of two men; one is Scott Coker, the man who started Strikeforce back in 1985 as a small regional kickboxing promotion based out of San Jose, California and built it up to a world recognized MMA entity that was showcased on both network and cable television. The other is UFC President Dana White, the driving force behind the UFC's growth and international expansion and a person who takes no prisoners when doing business.
Two very shrewd businessmen who battled openly for years against each other for MMA supremacy, but in the end it was White and his business partners behind Zuffa who won out as Coker sold out to Zuffa a year and a half ago. Once that happened, it was just a matter of time because I truly believe White, who holds onto grudges longer than Rousimar Palhares hold onto leg locks, was determined to inevitably wipe Strikeforce off the MMA map.
Sure, Zuffa kept Coker under employ as part of the deal; they gave him a fancy little title under the UFC banner and let him run the Strikeforce end of business while under TV contract with the Showtime network. However, since the merger Strikeforce has been dying a slow death. It's almost as though Coker sold his soul to the devil and in a sense he did; though this is no slight towards White who I have the utmost respect for, especially when it comes to business.
I have predicted openly since the merger that once the Showtime contract was done, there would be no more Strikeforce and the obvious became inevitable. It's hard to believe that just less than two years ago Strikeforce was thriving as they embarked on a historic eight man heavyweight Grand Prix tournament that sent chills down my spine the night it began in February 2011. However, it's limp to the finish of that tournament should have been an indication of things to come.
While I've been fortunate enough to have been credentialed and cover both the UFC and Bellator, it is my regret that I never got a chance to cover Strikeforce up close. I came close the night the tournament mentioned above began in New Jersey, however it was so huge that press requests were massive and I was left out. I have though been lucky enough to actually hold a Strikeforce title belt as former light-heavyweight champ 'King Mo' Lawal let me pose with his as can be seen here.
Thus, the promotion that gave us such magical moments as the first ever female main event in MMA history between Gina Carano and Cristiane 'Cyborg' Santos and the historic fall of legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko has quietly gone away. It ended the same way the WEC did, with a young exciting fighter named Tarec Saffiedine winning a title in the final fight of its promotion. However, because injuries decimated the original lineup and the NFL happened to have two great playoff games on, I wonder how many others beside myself actually took notice. Alas, another one bites the dust.
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