By Zach Arnold | February 23, 2011
The more the story progresses about what the hell is happening for the promotion’s Heavyweight GP tournament, the less seemingly anyone knows. I often wonder if the reason for that is because the power brokers & decision makers themselves don’t know what’s going on. Which, in essence, is kind of the bizarre prism that has been created fairly or unfairly in the media that Strikeforce has some success despite of its own actions.
There are many chaotic things that promoters have to deal with that are completely out of their control. Take, for instance, Miesha Tate injuring her knee and now having to pull out of the 135-pound women’s title fight with Marloes Coenen. Robert Sargent:
I’m told that Strikeforce has been aware of Miesha Tate’s injury for at least a few days.
Credit to Strikeforce for putting together a solid replacement title fight on short notice, however. Coenen vs (Liz) Carmouche is a good matchup.
Injuries are a part of the game and there’s really no reason to attack the promotion for taking their time and delaying the announcement so that they can find a replacement fighter. That’s fine. What wasn’t fine, however, was today’s… unique… conference call to promote the upcoming March 5th show at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The event has been entirely overshadowed by the HW GP ‘tournament’ despite having Dan Henderson in the main event slot. I expect the show to be really good, but the question is does it have the buzz amongst the fans? On today’s conference call, Scott Coker wasn’t around due to illness and questions regarding the April 9th date for the rest of round one of the tournament were not answered/allowed.
Which brings me to my continued amazement at how things work for a promotion that has the backing of a legitimate television outlet like Showtime. As Dave Meltzer accurately put it last week, Strikeforce is in a war with UFC whether they want it or not. UFC is treating it as a war, so it is a war. Now what are you going to do about it? You can be content with being #2 and successful but you also have to protect your business interests and cut down on the amount of errors you make. In the case of Strikeforce, it feels like the majority of media coverage about them is what they do outside of the cage as opposed to what is going on inside the cage. Sure, there’s plenty of outside-the-cage coverage for UFC, but ultimately when the fights happen everyone talks about the fights. In Strikeforce, you’ll see some coverage of the fights themselves but there’s an increasing amount of coverage about what happens outside-the-cage with this promotion. The drama that Showtime & Strikeforce creates for themselves is completely unneeded.
When the promotion decided to book a year-long ‘tournament’ as the main theme for 2011, they had to realize that everything needed to set up for the year. That means the arena bookings, the matches, and everything logistical. Even PRIDE, of all organizations, had a slate of dates booked for Saitama Super Arena or buildings like Yokohama Arena. (They had to, since most buildings in Japan require a 4-6 month advance booking date, if not longer.) The fact that Strikeforce still doesn’t reportedly have a venue booked for April 9th for the rest of the first round is absurd. The idea that Sherdog’s report on this has not been disputed yet by the promotion is curious. All of this chaos is also completely unfair to fighters who have training camps and are trying to peak at the right time. How would you like to be Alistair Overeem right now? You thought you were going to become the ‘ace’ of K-1, you won all your fights last December at Ariake Colosseum, and then you end up claiming that they didn’t pay you? He had big plans for Japan, so much so that he signed with talent agency Yoshimoto. Now, he fully commits to Strikeforce, and what happens? He’s like the rest of us in not knowing what is going on — and he’s supposed to fight a major opponent in Fabricio Werdum!
All of this chaos started with the dumb notion of wanting to run events in Japan. Yes, I predicted that the promotion would try to run there, but I never thought it made any financial sense. With all the chaos going on there now, why make things harder for yourself? Seemingly, that seems to be the theme of this operation right now. Once the landscape in Japan fell apart, the promotion should have already had everything ready to go to promote an event on April 9th. After all, that’s the date the promotion pushed on Showtime for the next event. You have all those eyeballs watching Fedor’s fight and you tell fans that a certain date will be used for the rest of the first round and now you are hedging on that. Why? None of this uncertainly should have happened in the first place.
I’ve yet to confirm the delay, let alone cause. Strikeforce, Showtime won’t comment one way or the other. Smells funny though.
Think what you want about Strikeforce, but three years ago today, they headlined a show with Jan Nortje-Bob Sapp. We’ve come a long way.
Maybe, but they need to step up their game big now. Amateur hour is over. Even Bellator is making some moves, like signing Marlon Sandro. Time to get some steely resolve.