Cries of victory were shouted from some of the blog rooftops by various Strikeforce proponents following the promotion’s most recent show on December 4th. Although it was a premature and short-sighted reaction, the five-fight main card grabbed the fanbase’s attention by delivering four knockouts within a mere hour of runtime on Showtime. This was without a doubt the most exciting Strikeforce show since their days of smaller, local offerings – and what made these bloggers cling to the TKO-filled evening as a sign that the organization can compete with the UFC was that Dana White and the big dogs were running The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale on Spike in a similar time slot.
Now, these two promotions have competed for viewership on the same nights before but it’s the first time Strikeforce’s roster showcased multiple performances that got some media buzzing in a very electric fashion. With superlatives being tossed about, let’s take a look at three reasons why the home of Fedor is not gaining on UFC’s market hold.
– Commentary is not compelling
The UFC’s combo of Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg trumps Frank Shamrock and company on any day, any time. Hopefully we’ve also seen the last of the horrific Gus Johnson cageside at Strikeforce but the bitter taste of his infamous “these things happen in MMA” moment is still fresh. It served as a shining example that Showtime (which handles the production aspect of SF shows) had appointed a man with little-to-no knowledge of MMA who panicked during a moment which called for prowess on the mic.
Pat Miletich is by far their most talented, appealing color commentary guy and the focus should be on getting him into not only Challengers series shows but every card from here on out. Miletich is a sign that perhaps Showtime is recognizing that amateurs like Shammy and Johnson are literally the reasons some fans mute SF broadcasts or don’t watch at all.
– Roster is shallow by comparison
Strikeforce’s middleweight division is often talked about as the org’s highlight among shallow weight classes such as light heavyweight, heavyweight, and so forth. While it’s nice to have an one appealing pool of fighters at 185 lbs., UFC boasts proven stars and true contenders in eight classes from bantamweight to heavyweight. 125 lbs. fighters will likely fill out an additional flyweight division in 2011.
– Co-promotion prevents consistent appearances by potential stars
Strikeforce would be well-served by a higher-powered version of Coker who would make co-promotion work for his North America events as opposed to seeing exciting performers like Josh Thompson head to Japan for a match that will receive a good amount of hype benefiting their partner promotion, DREAM. Sure, DREAM sent Shinya Aoki over to SF’s last showing on CBS but it was an affair between he and Gilbert Melendez that did little in the way of benefiting either org’s ability to boast stars.
Melendez vs. Aoki was a solid win for the American fighter but ended up being one of three consecutive title fights (a total of 15, 5-minute rounds) ending in judge’s decisions that night. Oh, and there was the in-cage brawl between Mayhem Miller and Team Cesar Gracie to close out an atrocious broadcast. All of the downfalls plaguing the upstart promotion could be somewhat counteracted with consistent appearances by their talented albeit small roster. This is however, incredibly difficult to do when contracts are constantly being re-negotiated with co-promotion partners such as M1 Global (Fedor) and big stage platforms like CBS are left with very little desire for bringing SF back on national television.
Look, I’m a fight fan and there have been quite a few Strikforce events I’ve thoroughly enjoyed but that’s been due strictly to what’s happening inside the cage. If this promotion can make 2011 the year they tighten up everything outside of the ring, they stand a good chance at making healthy progress in the fight business. As for now, UFC is still king.