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The next 8 days a peek into the non-UFC MMA landscape for rest of 2011

By Zach Arnold | April 1, 2011

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Tonight is the first Strikeforce event on Showtime under the Zuffa banner. It’s at Stockton Arena and business has universally, through various media reports, been described as bad. I know UFC was doing a lot of ticket giveaways for the show. No Diaz Brothers on the card + A’s starting 2011 campaign vs. Mariners & Felix Hernandez + largely pedestrian card = little interest. In a sense, I’ll have some interest for the show but mainly due to seeing how “business as usual” will take place. That phrase is one that many MMA writers have been mocking Dana White with since Zuffa purchased the Strikeforce assets.

Here’s how the card looks for tonight’s event:

This was the show that Satoshi Ishii was originally scheduled to fight on against Scott Lighty, but he ended up back in Japan to finalize his divorce. Also, take note that there are no longer amateur fights on future Strikeforce cards. Which means that Jeremy Lappen’s biggest backer (for promoters) for CAMO, which was his attempt to take over amateur MMA in California, is no longer giving him moment. I’m sure Zuffa is shedding a tear or two for Jeremy.

One other interesting thing to watch for — will dark match/undercard fights be shown on the telecast? Remember, Showtime hasn’t aired any in the past and their main reason according to various reporters is that airing dark matches taped earlier the night of a show “is a UFC thing.” Well, now Strikeforce is Zuffa. Business as usual?

On Saturday night (MTV2), Eddie Alvarez squares off against Pat Curran. It’s an important fight for him (read Josh Nason’s article on Eddie Alvarez) and it’s an important show for Bellator. They’re on MTV2, which is not a platform that everyone gets on cable. Then their show has a moving time slot to try to avoid weekend competition from UFC/Strikeforce. So, they’re on a platform that isn’t known for a big MMA demographic (under 21) and they aren’t in a position for viewers to remember one basic time slot (let alone those with DVRs who are having trouble recording the program weekly). The margin for error is so slim for the promotion, meaning they cannot afford any screw-ups. Right now, their estimated viewership is around 175,000 viewers. M-1 on Showtime last Friday drew more than that. Bellator is fighting for its future and I wish they would settle on a consistent strategy all the way around. You can’t giving the same speech to everyone and expecting fans to buy into it on the 37th try the same way they may have the first time you gave it.

As for the fight between Alvarez and Curran, I think it will be an excellent contest. The card for Saturday’s MTV2 event:

‘Business as usual’

Next Saturday (8 days from now), there’s the Strikeforce card from the old San Diego Sports Arena with Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley. This feels, more or less, like the first ‘major’ SF show under the Zuffa umbrella. Mike Kyle is out with a broken hand. Here’s how that card looks:

It’s an interesting card in one respect — outside of the main event, there is not a lot of star power here. Nick Diaz become Scott Coker’s #2 ace for ratings on Showtime behind Fedor (as far as regular fighters go). Daley is known because of his fight with Josh Koscheck, but it does not feel like there has been a lot of promotion at all for a fight between two men that, for the masses, is a pretty easy sell to make if you want to put the elbow grease into promoting it.

Aoki should tie up Beerbohm into a knot, but who knows? Melendez/Kawajiri is the fight that the hardcores are interested in seeing, but it’s not a fight with much if any casual fan appeal.

This will be the first event where I think we will see some of our questions answered regarding how serious Zuffa wants to promote Strikeforce and get along with Showtime. How will the production for the shows look? Will there be continuity in terms of trying to rebuild momentum for the HW tournament? What about the Fedor factor? Will Dana White or Joe Silva be at any of the shows? It reminds me very much of the feeling that I had when WCW had Nitro in Panama City, Florida right when WWE purchased the assets from Turner. Will there be an interpromotional war vibe going on or will it be ‘business as usual’?

One thing is for certain — Nick Diaz is recalcitrant to the idea of fighting one of his teammates.

This may be the last time you see Brock smiling for a while, let alone UFC executives if the ratings for The Ultimate Fighter don’t pick up steam over the next weeks.

Topics: Bellator, Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 18 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

18 Responses to “The next 8 days a peek into the non-UFC MMA landscape for rest of 2011”

  1. David m says:

    Sans grappling pants and refs who protect him if he gets elbowed, I expect/hope to see Aoki get humiliated again like he did against Gilbert. Also, seeing him lose again would permanently shut up all the Japanese mma marks who still refuse to admit that Dream is Double A ball and American mma is the big league.

    I similarly expect to see Kawajiri lose in a lopsided fight.

    • Light23 says:

      Gilbert Melendez is very near the top of the division. Losing to him is not getting “humiliated”.

      Beerbohm on the other hand is very, very (very) far from the top.

      There’s a 90% chance this ends via spectacular submission by Aoki. The other 10% is via a merely slightly awesome submission.

    • Stel says:

      when was Kawajira lost lopsided? Not the last time he fought Gil in an extremely close fight which I scored for Kawajiri.

  2. How are there going to be any changes with how Strikeforce is aired when the contract still stipulates that Showtime controls the production?

  3. The Gaijin says:

    Is it just me or has there been even LESS push for the SF arena series (Diaz vs. Daley) card than usual? It’s been tumbleweeds and crickets.

    Not that they were a promoting juggernaut before, but there’s been nary a peep about Diaz vs. Daley outside of Daley’s numerous recalcitrant interviews re Zuffa. I guess the Zuffa/Showtime combo is deciding neither wants to sink too many dollars promoting cards right now.

    Any word on the HWGP?

    • A couple weeks ago during the Brandon Rios card on Showtime, there was zero mention of Strikeforce during the whole broadcast. I wouldn’t be sad if they did go. The UFC can transfer all the contracts over aside from Fedor, who isn’t signed to them and is irrelevant now anyways.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Lol, just noticed I’d used the word “recalcitrant” in my comment and that you’d actually used it in the post itself. Don’t I look like a copycat trying to use big boy words.

  4. EJ says:

    You know I keep hearing all this talk about ratings for TUF but i’m curious what people expected?. Yeah Brock is a mega draw when he fights but opposite a nice guy like JDS with no drama that isn’t compelling.

    I said from day one that Mir should have been picked to be the coach but for whatever reason that never happened. This season isn’t all that interesting aside from Brock coaching and that was never going to make this a huge ratings success.

    In the end the ratings for TUF will be around the same as years before but this Spike put way too much of this season on Brock’s shoulders and it was a mistake. They didn’t even have a Fight Night as the lead in which is usually the case and changed up the time at a more competitive time slot. When you add all of that up it’s not that surprising to me that this didn’t draw the huge ratings some expected Spike dropped the ball here.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Well i think it says something that arguably their biggest star can’t outdraw Kimbo Slice or any other Joe coach.

  5. Chuck says:

    Just saw on the Strikeforce show tonight that Mousasi’s new opponent is………………………………………………………….Keith Jardine. Eh, why not? Should be a nice highlight reel KAYO for Mousasi.

  6. bluerosekiller says:

    Well, this will certainly put to the test the theory of 45 Huddle’s that a UFC gatekeeper such as Jardine is equal to or better than a Strikeforce/Dream ace like Mousasi.

    A theory that will be smashed to bits in brutal fashion as poor Jardine suffers yet another first round KO loss to a ( much ) superior striker.

    • Steve4192 says:

      I don’t think you can classify Jardine as a gatekeeper these days. The guy hasn’t had a meaningful win since 2008. I’m not a big Mousasi believer, but I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t flat-out annihilate The Dean of Mean.

    • fd says:


  7. RJB says:

    That article about Eddie Alvarez you linked to was complete garbage.
    Shocking since it came from such a highly respected MMA outlet like the Bleacher Report…lol.

    As far as Bellators declining ratings. They have no one to blame but whoever ultimately made the decision to start at 7pm Eastern.

    That’s way to early for a Saturday Night.

    I’d expect a jump this Saturday returning to 9 coupled with the fact that’s a great fight card.

  8. Chromium says:

    Zach: do you happen to know what the deal is with Kawajiri’s contract? Is he actually signed to a multi-fight deal with StrikeForce now (or at least under a champion’s clause)? This might be a bit awkward for Zuffa should Kawajiri win and a suddenly desperate FEG tries to play hardball. If Kawajiri wins, is this a plausible scenario?

  9. Chuck says:

    Last night’s Bellator event was damn good. One of their best ones yet. But man did Lyman Good get screwed on the judge’s scorecards. I had it (as almost everyone else) 29-28 Good, rounds one and three for Good and round two for Hawn. Pretty cut and dry scoring. I think the judges got swayed by that throw by Hawn at the end of the third round. Otherwise, it was most definitely Good’s round.

    And I think Eddie Alvarez’s title reign might be in trouble, via Patricky Freire. I can definitely see Freire beating Alvarez. It’s a great fight on paper.

    • Stel says:

      The last couple bellators have been great, Good was too tentative in that final round, and I think the judges gave it to Hawn for having better success with his strategy, his moderate control and the takedown.

      Good never let his hands go so I have no problem with a 29-28 win by Hawn, but no way did Hawn win the first round.

      Curren, as much as I was impressed with his defensive skills, was disappointing. His strategy was not to win but to survive obviously as he never launched any sustained attack, even when it was clear he needed a KO or sub or two dominant rounds to win.


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