By Josh Stein on Jan 29, 2010
It seems appropriate that Strikeforce: Miami is being held in the same building where EliteXC received its death-knell (the loss of Kimbo Slice to TUF dropout Seth Petruzelli). It seems appropriate because Strikeforce has put together a card that I, as an MMA fan, simply cannot be proud of.
There are bouts on this card that matter to the international scene. Marius Zaromskis (13-3 MMA, #9 IWMMAR) vs. Nick Diaz (20-7-0-1 MMA, 6-4 UFC) matters. Cristiane Santos (8-1 MMA) defending her title for the first time against Marloes Coenen (17-3 MMA) matters. But the way that Strikeforce is marketing the card is eerily familiar.
The fact that Herschel Walker (0-0 MMA) is being pushed by Strikeforce as a legitimate talent before he makes his debut is bothersome, and the fact that his first fight against an unknown heavyweight who may still kick his ass is on the main card of an event is something that Strikeforce shouldn’t be proud of. But it’s not going to bother them, for the same reason it didn’t bother EliteXC to put on a less than stellar show when they showed up in Miami.
I’m not saying that Strikeforce shouldn’t try to put asses in the seats. They should. They have to.
But putting asses in the streets shouldn’t have to diminish the quality of MMA. Strikeforce has managed to build a respectable promotion by putting together great cards that people want to see. And sure, at times, putting together fights that had less notoriety was reasonable, because the quality of the fight more than made up for it. Benji Radach vs. Scott Smith is a perfect case study.
So, if Strikeforce wants to bring fighters like Herschel Walker in to draw attention, that’s fine, but they should watch their footing. It’s a slippery slope. And fans don’t keep buying a crappy product for the novelty. There are only so many times fans will tune in to an event for a name if they don’t get a fight along with it.
Bobby Lashley (4-0 MMA) it should be noted, is a tremendous talent, and his matchup with Wes Sims (22-12 MMA, 0-3 UFC) will undoubtedly be a showcase in the raw power of the 6’3, 250+ pound heavyweight tossing around a taller, lankier fighter and then beating his head through the canvas. Most of the matches on the card are made well, which is what distinguishes Strikeforce from the deceased EliteXC brand.
Still, it’s important to let EliteXC be a cautionary tale for those in the Strikeforce organization who may be under the impression that bringing in name value is a potential substitute for good matchmaking. It’s not. Without the fight, there is no staunch fanbase, just the fickle support of those looking for a series of flashes in the proverbial pan. It’s a delicate balance, as Strikeforce looks to put itself into a position to compete with the monopoly of the MMA world, so going into the weekend, it’s worth enjoying the great fights that are on the card (and there are going to be some great fights on the card), but keep an eye on the shortcomings. It’s worth keeping those bits in check.
Filed Under: MMA
About the Author: Joshua Stein is a writer and editor for MMA Opinion. He has worked as a photographer and journalist and has a number of print journalism credits. He also works as a moderator for MMAForum.com and a grappling columnist (covering judo, collegiate wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling) for profighting-fans.com.