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A discussion about Strikeforce’s continuity problems and Showtime as a business partner

By Zach Arnold | May 18, 2010

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One of the more interesting conversations about Strikeforce and why the promotion is running events the way they are came on a Sherdog radio show right after the St. Louis event on last Saturday night.

I was going to divide this passage up in multiple sections, but realistically everything here runs together for a reason. The main focus points are on a lack of cohesive promotion from card to card and also a lack of being able to fully develop new prospects and make new stars, which is critical for building a promotion — especially in a marketplace dominated by UFC.

Here is the conversation between TJ De Santis and Jordan Breen about Saturday night’s card from St. Louis that aired on Showtime:

TJ DE SANTIS: “People are going to be salivating for a possible Fedor & Overeem match and I think that’s something that we hit on the Roundtable [Friday] that there is a lot of storyline, there is some drama there between you know the perspective camps and whatnot… I just… I mean I hate to get on Showtime and Strikeforce at the top of their show, but I just think they’re really bad at pushing their product, Jordan.”

JORDAN BREEN: “I’m inclined to agree, in full.”

TJ DE SANTIS: “I don’t understand why this promotion doesn’t push I think a lot of their prospects, they refuse to show prelims. … They could have shown the Shaolin Ribeiro and Lyle Beerbohm which I want to see and I think a lot of people want to see to see how and why it was scored the way it was. I mean, the UFC obviously has a much stronger brand, but that brand I think is strong, Jordan, because they promote their fighters within, they make stars out of their fighters, and those stars obviously are the face of the promotion. I think, yeah, the UFC brand alone is always going to outsell Strikeforce, but Strikeforce I mean doesn’t have the names, the poster boys, the stars really that the UFC does because they don’t push them correctly.”

JORDAN BREEN: “I think it’s a combination of that and the fact that is a product now being led by Showtime, whose familiarity is in boxing and one of the things we touched on recently with Strikeforce, not this card but their last effort in Nashville, is the fact that Showtime, the way they do their boxing product, Showtime are always kind of the #2 to HBO but the reason they are able to thrive in the boxing environment is they’ve always been very keen to really catch and scoop up the good fights that slip through the cracks. When HBO wasn’t particularly interested in Castillo/Corrales for whatever, they were there to scoop it up. Same with the Vasquez/Marquez trilogy, same for years during one of the things they’ve always done from the 90s right up until now, even back in the late 80s actually, was scooping up European title fights with world titlists in Europe. They were really, you know, home of the well-skilled but less marketable boxers before they became superstars. Bernard Hopkins before he became unified Middleweight champion of the world in supreme fashion, always fought on Showtime. So they were always very good at scooping up all the pieces and stuff that HBO didn’t want in idiocy or just overlooked and that doesn’t exist with MMA. It’s not independent promoters making really good fights and then you can just rush to the scene and choose to air it. Doesn’t work that way. So, they’re trying to hand-pick and craft a product that they really don’t know a whole lot about and that’s why we end up with Kevin Randleman on cards like this and why we have an inability to develop prospects fruitfully and why we don’t get to see prospects on cards. And why really the only major talking points we’re going to get tonight are: Can Alistair Overeem beat Fedor Emelianenko and how good can you know Jacare or Roger Gracie be? It’s less instructive and there’s less of a narrative coming out of any Strikeforce event than a UFC event partially because of what you mentioned. It’s not just that they don’t sell the product well-enough, it’s that there’s never a sense that things are leading to something larger, that the product is put together in a magnetic, compelling way that builds on its own…”

TJ DE SANTIS: “It’s funny, I mean, we’re in a time of multiple promotions having television deals, we get to see product from a variety of promotions that a few years ago we never got to see before and I think it was on Jordan Breen show where you and I discussed Bellator being better at being Strikeforce than Strikeforce is. Bellator has the right idea about promoting within, showing and showcasing their fighters and really, I mean, if Bellator was in Strikeforce’s shoes, had the television deals they do… well, maybe not, I guess it’s hard to blame Strikeforce that much for I guess what comes across especially on the Showtime product, I mean who is to blame for the downfall? I mean is it really Showtime…”


TJ DE SANTIS: “Or is it Strikeforce for not stepping up and going, ‘yeah, I know we’re a partnership here, but we have a decent idea on how to promote fights,’ because I mean if you look at Strikeforce, Jordan, before this whole Showtime thing was going on we talked about Strikeforce as yeah, they’re a good Mom & Pop promotion, they’re regional but they’re really good at making money and promoting shows. I mean, Strikeforce, a few years ago you couldn’t talk about Strikeforce without saying, ‘hey, they’re one of the few promotions outside the UFC, pretty much the only promotion outside of the UFC in North America, that’s making any money.’ They knew how to do something right at one time, now it just seems like they’re having to cave because the suits are saying, ‘this is how we do things here.’ ”

JORDAN BREEN: “Yep. One thing that I sort of tried to express more clearly and explicitly as I’ve gone on is a lot of people get mad that I’m critical of Strikeforce and I’ve realized that I think some of my critique is a bit mislaid in that I do attribute a great amount of the failings and shortcomings to Showtime. They decide who fights who, they decide who gets on television and who doesn’t. They’re in charge of these things at this point in time and Scott Coker and his boys, obviously still you know they aren’t powerless but they’re being taken for a ride by guys like Ken Hershman and those at Showtime who are making decisions and we can see they just aren’t people who know Mixed Martial Arts that well and certainly aren’t people who have a keen sense of what belongs on television, what it takes to develop prospects from the ground up in Mixed Martial Arts and get people interested and excited about a product on all levels the way UFC is able to do.”

TJ DE SANTIS: “You know you look at the UFC and anyone that has tried to take on the UFC head-to-head in competition sort of acts like they are the UFC and they don’t have the budget or the means to be the UFC. Now Strikeforce is obviously not trying to be the UFC, but they’re so polar opposite it’s to a detriment.”

JORDAN BREEN: “Yeah, well I don’t know that it’s so polar opposite that it’s a detriment, it’s just I think it’s a confusing product. Essentially, they’re doing a better version of what they were doing two years, they’re doing it now with bigger names, consistently bigger fights, but the problem is people just expect more from them now. They’re supposed to be a UFC competitor. Before they were just the best feeder show, the best regional show, now they’re expected to be something entirely different and that’s clearly not good enough.”

TJ DE SANTIS: “I don’t just understand why you don’t show, I mean, OK, this preliminary card tonight was weak. It definitely was weak. It was, you know packed with…”

JORDAN BREEN: “Well that’s an issue in and of itself. It’s weak because they gave the book to Jesse Finney, a local fighter and essentially said, book it for us.”

TJ DE SANTIS: “Yeah, but you have the fight between Shaolin and Lyle Beerbohm who are you know national, international fighters that can be showcased. You have a half an hour, the fight is 15 minutes, why not throw it on? Why do we have to stick to, all right this is going to be our first fight, second fight, third fight, fourth fight, WRAP, I don’t care if it’s at 10:45, WRAP. I don’t get it.”

Since this conversation took place, Jordan Breen watched video of the Shaolin/Beerbohm fight (video here) and made this observation:

For those asking, I had it 30-28 Shaolin. Two judges giving Beerbohm all three rounds is irresponsible, reprehensible, and downright [expletive].

The only defense I could see in the promotion not airing the Shaolin/Beerbohm fight is that Lyle had a lot of heat on him after he wrote that post on The Underground Forum in which he asked for a lawyer to help him get out of his Strikeforce deal. I thought it was very curious that Scott Coker said after the St. Louis show that he wanted the Ribeiro/Beerbohm winner to face Josh Thomson on 6/26 in San Jose. Talk about a quick turnaround. Beerbohm, after the fight, needed to get his arm examined but said in a Strikeforce media interview that he wanted to fight Gilbert Melendez. It’s one of those situations where a promoter essentially gets called out by a frustrated fighter on an internet forum, then books him right away in a dark match with no TV exposure, and then says, OK, now you won your fight, go fight a few weeks later. And if you’re hurt? Then the other guy you fought (Shaolin) gets your slot on television and if you’re not on television, that would be unfortunate… sorry.

Yes, Beerbohm is a definite prospect and Strikeforce lacks depth in all divisions, but this is a fighter who has shown he wouldn’t mind leaving the promotion so why would someone be inclined to give him a hard push or more exposure than he (rightfully or wrongfully) deserves? Hardball. Plus, you have to ask yourself this if you’re Scott Coker — is Lyle Beerbohm the kind of fighter who, down the road, can make the promotion a lot of money? The other question is — are we going to have another Jake Shields situation on our hands here with him and if so, how do we proceed from there?

As for the Strikeforce matchmaking, ever since Javier Mendez (American Kickboxing Academy) left the booker slot… (Try to forget the Bobby Southworth fight bookings. Nobody’s perfect.)

Replying to the point about Strikeforce a lack of continuity, it’s a situation where the promotion doesn’t have a television partner that can give them weekly or bi-weekly television coverage to run hour-long shows like Spike TV has been doing for UFC. Spike TV has given the UFC plenty of real estate to build new stars and create compelling storylines. Strikeforce simply doesn’t have and unless they can figure out a battle plan to match that kind of television real estate coverage, it’s going to be difficult for them to maintain or build any long-term momentum.

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 62 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

62 Responses to “A discussion about Strikeforce’s continuity problems and Showtime as a business partner”

  1. Breen and De Santis make me laugh here. Is there anyone that really believes that unaired prelims for the UFC “develop narratives” and “build stars”? We’ve got some second rate journos who don’t know the difference between filler and the real fights on the card people are actually interested in.

    “The narrative” is created/reported by journalists, not by the promotion. Well, at least, that’s what it should be, but apparently these guys are so lazy they need to be told things by promoters. Making their own phone calls is too much of a chore (see also: Josh Gross’s tweeting on SHINE’s cancellation – what, a call to the NC Athletic Commission was too tough to see what they would do?).

    As for Beerbohm/Shaolin – it wasn’t last minute booking. I’ve seen this fight discussed since March. He started complaining a couple weeks ago about something or other, but I don’t know how much stock I take in anything he says. All I know about him personally is that he’s a former meth addict.

    • nathan says:

      Yes prelims do make stars, one recent event wec faber vs aldo the best fight of the night was a prelim and made a new star in the korean zombie. Anderson silva’s first ufc fight was w chris leben at a fight night which is the same as prelims. So there’s a lot of stars that start out on prelims.

      • Headlining a Fight Night and fighting on an unaired preliminary portion of a card are so completely different from one another, it makes me laugh to even think they’re comparable.

        No one buys UFC PPVs to watch Elliott Marshall or whoever fight off TV. Not even his family.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Those hour long shows are just aired prelims. Nothing more, nothing less. The UFC has made prelims into a show…. And it has worked wonderfully. It gives exposure to more of their fighters and gets people hyped about their cards.

          And the narrative is also created by the promoters. When Cyborg’s opponents continue to be females we have never seen compete before, it’s becuse Strikeforce is doing something wrong. If we see her challengers once or twice on TV, then when they fight for the title, it becomes something bigger. So don’t tell me it’s a journalist thing and not a promotion thing. It’s totally a promotion thing.

          Lastly, look at the importance of prelims. It’s also to build up prospects. The more legit fighters you have on a card, the better chance of finding that diamond in the rough. On a Strikeforce card, they don’t have good guys on their prelims, which means they will never find that next bright star more often then not.

          Jon Jones started as a prelim fighter brought in to take a loss. So was Frankie Edgar. Those same opportunities aren’t available in Strikeforce.

        • They do hour long prelim shows to PPVs. Strikeforce does not do PPVs. They also do shows intended for nothing but developing talent.

          If “the narrative” is produced by the promotion, then its because writers are lazy. Period. “The narrative” is a joke anyhow.

          Jon Jones and Frankie Edgar would, as you like to say about the talent level on TUF, “have risen to the top anyways”.

        • Michaelthebox says:

          “If “the narrative” is produced by the promotion, then its because writers are lazy. Period.”

          This is the mantra of the failed businessman, failed promoter, failed writer, failed anybody.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Jon Jones and Frankie Edgar would have had to wait another 2 years for a roster spot to open up if the UFC wasn’t doing prelims.

          A narrative is important. There is a narrative for professional sports leagues. It happens to be easier for them because it is an already pre-determined schedule. But that repetition is important.

          A promoter must keep the same thing going as well. They must be constantly getting new stars to fight their champions. Jordan Breem talks about this a lot. How the UFC always feels like it leads into the next show.

          A Strikeforce show feels like it leads to nothing. You cannot build upon a women’s division when females are stepping into title fights with no exposure beforehand.

          So to claim the narrative is a joke goes against everything professional sports has been built on. And basically is flat out wrong.

        • This is the mantra of the failed businessman, failed promoter, failed writer, failed anybody.

          LOL, you are writing nonsense at this point. Its a failure of the writers to not reproduce the UFC’s talking points ad nauseum? MMA gets the press it deserves then.

        • Jon Jones and Frankie Edgar would have had to wait another 2 years for a roster spot to open up if the UFC wasn’t doing prelims.

          The prelims are a side effect of the business model- sign lots of guys, see who pans out. They can afford to do it because they make tons of money. Strikeforce doesn’t make the same amount and thusly can’t and shouldn’t.

          A narrative is important. There is a narrative for professional sports leagues. It happens to be easier for them because it is an already pre-determined schedule. But that repetition is important.

          “The narrative” is something that is reported. When reporters ask how important Japanese MMA is, they are not repeating “the narrative” given to them by DREAM. The UFC has done an impressive job making sure their actions are colored in the way they prefer, and a lot of that it thanks to the pull they have with a large number of journos. Their actions are generally beyond question. Strikeforce cannot build that power around their “narrative” – not now, not for a long time.

    • Jeff says:

      I think you’re taking the phrase “create stars” too literal. No one is saying some PPV machine is being wasted on prelims (though GSP went from prelims to title shot). But the young fighters that people are interested in seeing develop fight on UFC prelims. Look at the last fights of guys like Phil Davis, Todd Duffee, or Pat Barry. These guys fought on prelims and had their fights shwon on the broadcast because they fought well. When I watch fights with casual fans, they are impressed and want to see them again. They don’t go searching for fights online.

      In regard to the ‘narrative’, I think the issue they have is Strikeforce lacks a ladder that fighters can climb. Look at Josh Thomson – he has no one to fight (at least that’s competitive). So after this event and others, no one can see a compelling matchup next. It shouldn’t be this way. There should be bookings at weightclasses that lead guys to fight each other on their way up. And then actually show them on air.

      • I think you’re taking the phrase “create stars” too literal. No one is saying some PPV machine is being wasted on prelims (though GSP went from prelims to title shot). But the young fighters that people are interested in seeing develop fight on UFC prelims. Look at the last fights of guys like Phil Davis, Todd Duffee, or Pat Barry. These guys fought on prelims and had their fights shwon on the broadcast because they fought well. When I watch fights with casual fans, they are impressed and want to see them again. They don’t go searching for fights online.

        Sometimes they make broadcast and it works out for them. Sometimes the fights are terrible and don’t. Truth be told, the general public doesn’t give a damn about the young fighters developing on the unadvertised preliminary card. If they did, they’d be on the televised card like Amir Sadollah.

        When you say that they don’t have anything for Thomson – of course they do. They have Vitor Riberio, who is now coming off a loss. They also have Beerbohm and KJ Noons. Minus all those guys, they can sign a journeyman type fighter to a one/two fight contract and give him an easy night’s work. Is it really that different to do that versus the UFC signing Phil Baroni? Be real here.

        In the end, I don’t care that Alvarez/Melendez isn’t a fight that’s internally either promotion’s fight any more than I didn’t care that Tyson/Lewis wasn’t HBO or Showtime’s fight exclusively. I just care that its made.

    • Wolverine says:

      Shane Carwin’s first two fights in UFC were on the prelims and they were both showed on the PPV broadcasts. After that he got a co-main event spot at UFC 96 against Gonzaga.

      • Shane Carwin KOed a couple tomato cans he was set up with in short order, then was promoted to the co-main event spot on an injury decimated PPV that did mediocre buys. Its not as if he became some great marketable star. Nor did anyone buy any of those shows to see Shane Carwin.

        • Wolverine says:

          He obviously didn’t become a star, but UFC fans at least knew who he was, so he could get a co-main event spot.

          In contrast Daniel Cormier KOed a tomato can recently and Strikeforce didn’t even bother to put it on youtube.

          Perception of the show is also much more different among casual fans if they get a bunch of exciting finishes.

        • Anyone can be a co-main fighter for the UFC if they want. They don’t even need to put them on undercards if they so choose. In the end, blowing lots of money on expensive undercards no one will see or care about is a great way to go out of business.

  2. A. Taveras says:

    On the last Pro MMA radio they repeatedly referred to Strikeforce as a ‘super-fight’ promotion. That is in line with the description above of how Showtime operates in boxing. I do hope they continue to work in this manner. They cannot be UFC and it is better for everyone if they don’t try to be UFC. Mr. Coker just make the best fights available with up and comers and castoffs outside the UFC to round out my Saturdays here and there between UFC and boxing nights.

  3. Jonathan Snowden says:

    This is the kind of advice that is going to put Strikeforce out of business. What rationale person could possibly justify putting on an expensive undercard or the few thousand people in attendance and bored journalists? I guarantee the local fighters like Jesse Finney drew more people to the building than Vitor Ribeiro.

    The ignorance here is astounding.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Why not put Fancy Pants vs. Ribeiro on the Challenger Series card the next week? It’s just not a problem of showing prelims. It’s about putting guys who are close in line to title shots on fights that nobody sees.

      If Fancy Pants beats Thomson, he is getting a title shot. It’s much more effective to have him on TV 2 times in a short time span before the title shot, then have him on once and they it appears like he rushed into a shot with little background to the casual viewers.

  4. Mr.Roadblock says:

    Speaking of narratives I think it’s funny how so many people in the MMA media are parroting this idea that it is Showtime that causes Strikeforce’s bad booking.

    Did everyone forget that when Scott Coker was left to his own devices he was booking Jan Norte vs Bob Sapp in the Tacoma Dome? Or was that HDNet’s fault?

    Coker is a Japan and an Internet mark. He has little to no idea what anyone in the mainstream wants to see and/or what will catch on.

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    1) Prelims are a great way to find good fighters by accident. The more fighters you have competing on your cards, the better chance you will find the next Frankie Edgar, Jon Jones, or Shane Carwin.

    2) It is obvious that boxing minds are running the promotion. In boxing, you can put two guys who have not been seen before on TV and sell it. There is a matured fanbase that just accepts that system. That system does not work for MMA. There are so many fighters competing out there on TV that you need to get them exposure early and often.

    3) Dana White was right that Strikeforce has too many fighters signed on. Because they aren’t putting on real undercards, they have a limited number of slots available, which means unless you are Nick Diaz, you have to wait 9 months between fights.

    4) Strikeforce treats their fighters poorly. Fancy Pants has been treated poorly. So has Robbie Lawler. They completely disrespected their Middleweight Champion Jake Shields before his fight with Dan Henderson. They are making so many people angry. Their champions openly talk about wanting to fight in the UFC.

    I don’t understand why it is so difficult to steer the ship correctly. The WEC model has already been shown to work. Put a title fight and a #1 contender fight on the same card and then have those two guys fight the next time out. Repeat by division. It’s so simple. It’s an easy narrative to follow. It pretty much works itself out. And yet instread Strikeforce bringings in fighters who have never been seen by an American audience (like Aoki) and shove them into a title fight. Much of that reason is co-promotion. When there are so many working parts, you can’t plan too far ahead.

    So really, the problems really come down to 3 simple things….

    1) Showtime Executive is clueless on MMA.

    2) Co-promotion doesn’t work on a national stage.

    3) A simple, straight forward narrative needs to be introduced in order to push things forward.

    Overeem vs. Fedor is great…. But they haven’t done anything to work towards what happens after that.

    • In boxing, you can put two guys who have not been seen before on TV and sell it.

      LOL WHUT.

      Strikeforce treats their fighters poorly. Fancy Pants has been treated poorly. So has Robbie Lawler. They completely disrespected their Middleweight Champion Jake Shields before his fight with Dan Henderson. They are making so many people angry. Their champions openly talk about wanting to fight in the UFC.

      They “treated guys badly” who were on their last fight. You mean like how the UFC bumps those guys to unaired prelims and shelves them for months beforehand? LOL.

      I don’t understand why it is so difficult to steer the ship correctly. The WEC model has already been shown to work. Put a title fight and a #1 contender fight on the same card and then have those two guys fight the next time out. Repeat by division. It’s so simple.

      The WEC as the WEC didn’t work. That’s why it had to be effectively unbranded and incorporated with tons of UFC elements when packaged for sale.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        The WEC worked as a story telling device. It was easy to follow. It built to something each show. It is a sustainable business model. That model would work 10 times better on Showtime then what Strikeforce is currently doing.

        The UFC offered fights to Huerta and Arlovski that were turned down. Those fighters played games first, and were made to weight. And they both were given fights against guys of their same weight class. From many fighters accounts, Strikeforce doesn’t even return their calls. And when fighters are on their way out, they claim they can’t find any other opponents their size and then have them fight naturally larger opponents. That’s a special kind of pathetic.

        • If this were true, you’d be right. But the WEC wasn’t sustainable until it was brought to PPV and the entire branding of the WEC was removed.

          The UFC offered fights to Huerta and Arlovski that were turned down.

          When both men’s contracts were up they weren’t offered anything without the option of a contract extension. Both refused the extension and were offered alternative fights at the end of the contract terms.

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    The Overeem vs. Rogers card only got 308,000 viewers. That has to hurt. Between that and the CBS ratings….. Not a good time to be Strikeforce.

    Even the UFC highlight card did less then 1 Million, which I thought was worse then it should have done. It was done on short notice, but still not very good.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Shamrock vs. Diaz: 364,000
      Lawler vs. Shields: 275,000
      Carano vs. Cyborg: 576,000
      Strikeforce: Evolution: 341,000
      Strikeforce: Miami: 517,000
      Heavy Artillery: 308,000

      Yeah they nailed it basically right in line with their standard viewship numbers (i.e. when not featuring Gina Carano or a freakshow fight). THURRRR F1N1SH3D!!1!!1!!!!1!!!


      • 45 Huddle says:

        2nd worst of 6 shows. It was expected for Lawler/Shields. This was not supposed to happen for this show.

        This had a Heavyweight Title fight (hardcores know the title is meaningless, but it was still promoted as such). It had Arlovski as the co-main event. It also had Brett Rogers coming off a show with 4 Million viewers on CBS. This show was not supposed to do close to 300,000 viewers.

        This is a failure in so many ways. They have proven they are unable to increase their popularity. They are unable to create stars. And they are actually going backwards in viewership as they go forward.

        So in the span of a month, they have tanked in 2 straight shows. One on CBS, the other on Showtime.

        You have to be one big SF fanboy to act as if this has even a smidgen of positive spin to it.

        • The Gaijin says:

          Wait, wait, wait…

          – Miami had Walker, Cyborg, Diaz, Lashley. I won’t pretend that Manhoef means anything to casual viewers.
          – Evolution had Cung Le in San Jose.
          – Carano vs. Cyborg…
          – Shamrock in San Jose.

          And this card had a guy that got his head knocked off on CBS against a big guy 95% of the casual fanbase never heard of and an Andrei Arlovski fight. The same AA that you and every other lazy boy promoter has written off as finished.

          Yeah – I’m sure everyone was expecting 1,000,000 viewers. I’m far from a Strikeforce fanboy, I didn’t even say this was “positive”. It was what it was. A Strikeforce card on Showtime, with fighters of little current name recognition pulling in the standard rating.

          Hey you wanna get all fanboy sticky in the pants over it, go nuts…but don’t lose sight of who the “fan boy” is and who the guy is that can look at the numbers objectively without touching himself because it somehow paints their favorite company’s “competitor” negatively.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Of course the Carano & Walker cards did better.

          But this card should have done between the other 3 and those cards. Which is in the 400,000 to 450,000 range. Coming in at 308,000 is not good. Le and Shamrock being in San Jose matters for ticket sales. It doesn’t matter for Showtime. Neither of those guys are national draws and they did better then Arlovski, Rogers, and Overeem.

          How many disappointing ratings in a row can Strikeforce get before people like you will admit they are in ratings trouble?

        • The Gaijin says:

          If anything this shows just how little value booking “freakshow” fights really is to a promotion other than the one-off spike in interest.

          People tune in to see that particular person (e.g. Walker), not the promotion. As soon as the spectacle is over and done with, they have no interest in your product and you’ve spent 90% of your promotional efforts telling everyone to come and see Mr. Walker and Mr. Lashley, rather than using these guys as the avenue to deliver eyeballs to your actual product and stable of fighters.

          Coker is a regional promoter, trying regional promoter tactics on a big league scale.

        • The Gaijin says:

          How is Strikeforce “in ratings trouble” on Showtime?

          They deliver consistent ratings, with spikes in ratings for certain spectacle/freakshow fights. If I recall correctly Showtime puts very little into the expenses for the fights and the promotion, hence why you will rarely see any type of hyping/promotion/Fight Camp 360 for any mma on Showtime event.

          If Strikeforce continues to deliver the same/consistent level of ratings what does Showtime care? In the end Strikeforce is the one spending the majority of the money – and if they lose money promoting a show that delivers 308,000 viewers what does Showtime care.

        • The Gaijin says:

          As for the Le and Shamrock arguments, yes being in San Jose is mainly relevant for ticket sales. But San Jose is their home base, so they end up doing a buttload more promoting for those shows.

          Not to mention that Le and Shamrock have been mainstays with SF for quite sometime and SF has spent a pretty good dime promoting these guys, giving them airtime and good slots on PPVs…it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that these guys are viewed as “names” and “worth watching” whenever they’re on a Showtime card…imagine they put as much promotional effort behind any of these other guys – Le got fed a steady diet of guys to throw flashy kicks and look like a world beater against – then got to fight Shamrock and get the rub from his starpower. They only call Shamrock a legend about 19 times per SF show, let him “promote” his own little feuds and storylines whenever he pleases and made him against Baroni look like it was a meaningful fight in 2007.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          How are they in ratings trouble?

          You always want to show growth from your initial base. Strikeforce went from an unknown entity with specific base of fans. They have been on the network for a year, and those numbers are not going up for their legit MMA shows (without the freaks).

          At the end of the day, Strikeforce costs millions of dollars for Showtime to put on. Showtime gets about $1 per subscriber from the cable companies. Let’s assume Showtime can say 300,000 people order Showtime just for MMA (which is unlikely, but let’s use that)…. Strikeforce is pulling in $3.6 Million a year for Showtime. Strikeforce costs more then that to run all of those shows. It’s hard to justify keeping them on with ratings like that and potentially losing money on the shows.

          You are right that putting on the freakshow has no carry over effect. Which is why freakshows are pointless.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Keep in mind as well that a lot of their original television is doing over 500,000…. With shows like Dexter doing like 2.5 Million for the season premiere. MMA is one of their worst rated programs on their network. And I bet it’s not exactly the cheapest.

          The double whammy is not good for them.

        • The Gaijin says:

          I admit knowing very little about scripted dramas, but from what I do know, something like Strikeforce – which Showtime covers very little costs (I think they pay a flat-fee per show and SF covers all overhead and fighter costs, etc.), is exponentially cheaper.

          There’s a reason scripted dramas are a dying breed on network TV and becoming the niche of pay-cable channels – they cost a buttload of money to produce.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          According to reports, Showtime pays Strikeforce between $500,000 to $700,000 for the larger shows. And I believe Showtime covers some of the production costs.

          The math just doesn’t add up. That’s a hefty price for something that isn’t even doing 500,000 viewers per show.

        • If Strikeforce was in trouble as far as cancellation goes, so would be boxing. Neither is going to happen right now. Sorry to let you down, 45.

    • The Gaijin says:

      I’m not sure I see the less than 1 million as a negative in any long term sense. These are fights that already had a decent audience – hell Garcia vs. Korean Zombie just happened and had a heck of a rating less than a month ago…it was thrown together very quickly and there was little lead in promotion for this unless you read mma websites and/or are a UFC diehard.

      • Jonathan Snowden says:

        I don’t know the metrics, but 45 Huddle’s math is way off here. If 300,000 people really ordered Showtime for the MMA, that’s making the channel a hell of a lot more than $3.6 million a year.

  7. David says:

    Since when did journalists and writers critique the promotional power and business moves of other sports leagues and/or promotions. For all we know, the UFC could get busted for some corruption or something and go bust in 10 years, we don’t know. StrikeForce puts on shows for the sport and as long as they aren’t bleeding cash, they can be the sort of ‘purists’ in the industry. However, they clearly don’t have the mainstream push outside of the MMA circle, so I agree that they could falter.

  8. Jonathan says:

    45 Huddle-

    We get it. Every single freaking post you make on any thread is just more evidence to how much you want anything that is not the UFC to fail.

    Admit it. Please. Your vitrolic hate for anything non-UFC is bewildering and clearly seen by everyone.

    And didn’t you say that you were leaving this site? Those were the best two weeks on here.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      I have admitted I want other organizations to fail. I want one organization with all of the top fighters in it. I’m sick of seeing quality fighters spread across various organizations, which stops us fans from seeing the best fight the best.

      I watch and enjoy the sport. I watch Bellator. Gone to a few of there events. Have Showtime now to watch Strikeforce. Watch most of the UFC stuff out there.

      I really do enjoy good fights.

      I don’t enjoy the bad business practices behind those bad fights.

      I hate how Bellator has championship clauses for their champions when they are nothing more then a feeder organization.

      I hated how EliteXC handled Kimbo and treated him like a world class fighter. Yes, the UFC used him, but they mid-carder him and always talked about him as a work in progress.

      And I hate how Strikeforce continues to TAKE TAKE TAKE from the sport and add nothing back. These have used up more stars in a shorter period of time then any other organization in MMA history. And they have done so without building up stars to replace those fighters. They have turned into a virus of MMA.

      The UFC has been the only organization that has promoted MMA properly. Given their title belts meaning (not perfect, but very good). They have continued to build up stars time and time again. They are not perfect. I hate their more then 1 PPV per month thing they have been doing lately. I think they need a fighters union.

      But I do think that that MMA would be better with the UFC has the only top dog and the rest of the organizations doing what they should be doing…. Which is preparing and feeding top talent to them. MMA would be much better off then the garbage we have seen from Bellator and Strikeforce lately trying to work on the same level as the UFC.

      • Why do you care if they “use up stars”? Fighters need to fight. Strikeforce offers them money to fight. If the UFC could offer them more, they either would have or will.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Why do I care? Let’s see…..

          Look at The Cyborg Situation. It’s a perfect example of Strikeforce taking without giving back.

          They used up the two stars that were given to them…. Cyborg and Carano. They put that fight on. During that time, they did nothing to add to that division. They did not build another challenger up.

          So now we are left with a champion in a useless division without random unknown fighters coming in to fight her.

          That does not do the sport any good. If anything, it hurts it. People aren’t going to care about random unknown fighters.

          Strikeforce has been doing this across the board. They are using the now at the expense of the future.

          And I think this sport deserves a future. Scott Coker obviously does not.

        • They built up a challenger on the prelims though; Cyborg blew through said challenger, so now its on them to develop a new one. Well, assuming they want to and they’re plan isn’t to try and just do Cyborg/Carano 2. Which, rationally, is the only fight of value for Cyborg.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          So we have to wait a year at a time for ONE challenger?

          They have not built up the division. They were given 2 name female fighters. We are left with 1. Simple math.

          A promotion can’t win them all, but right now they have multiple divisions with no challengers because they did nothing.

          Alan…. You think Strikeforce has done more good then bad for MMA?

        • She just fought her top contender this year in a division where there’s basically no talent. Her best option would be Erin Toughill, but she’s decided to take a sabbatical. In the meantime, they have a keep busy fight while they probably decide to do something else with her in a division that has maybe 5 decent fighters. It doesn’t bother me much.

          As for whether or not they’ve done more damage than good; No one in MMA is interested in it being a real sport, so even asking that question is silly now. If the UFC decided to make less money with weekly programming over their current model and then poached all the Strikeforce guys, I would be overjoyed. Its not gonna happen.

    • edub says:

      Jonathan: Man it seems like you wait for him to post. The thing is when he does you don’t post anything like facts or scenarios rebuffing his claims. All you do is claim how every post he makes sucks, that he “fails”, or what a terrible fan he is.

      Why not just contribute something.

      Anywho, I would have to disagree with a little bit of what they’re saying. I mean was it really that important to put Beerbohm vs Shaolin on the televised portion when by all acounts on PBPs the fight kinda blew. The reason Jones and Edgar’s fights got on televised portions was because they were highly entertaining (IE: Edgar-Griffin, Jones-Bonnar) or were big finishes.

      If it would have been a great fight or a quick stoppage; I
      m not sure, but I think they would have tried to get it televised.

      Take some of the good moments of that fight add them to the fighters HL reel(ala the UFC) and try and build either for the future. You many options for SF or to give to dream for Co-promotion. Have Beerbohm go to Japan and fight either Aoki or Kawajiri or the winner if they ever fight each other. Have Ribeiro fight Thompson. Have Melendez fight Alvarez(if you can come to an agreement with Bellator), if not have him fight Noons who you can bill as the Elite XC champ. After all that rinse repeat, and bring in other fighters for match ups here and there.

      It seems so easy on paper.

  9. Jonathan says:

    And 45 Huddle,

    You say that freak shows are not important? I agree with you 100%. But your precious and beloved UFC just made an entire season of a reality TV show around Kimbo Slice, who is nothing more than a freak show in the truest sense of the word. They even put him on a PPV!

    So please, tell me how what Strikeforce did was wrong and how what the UFC does is right. Please elaborate.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      When have I ever praised TUF?

      I don’t even watch it myself. I find it to be garbage and have said so. It’s only redeeming quality is that it find the diamond in the rough and gives them a platform and some fans behind them. Think Amir Sadalloh….

      Besides that, I find the show useless.

      • Jonathan says:

        But why do you not lambaste’ the UFC for putting a guy in there who is obviously there for ratings and not as a legitimate contender. heck, I would say that is true for most of the guys that have been on that show recently….

        And I am glad that I can take a screen shot of your true intent. What you believe is what you believe and while I think that it is utter garbage to want everything in this world not name the UFC to fail, there is not a dag-gum thing I can do about it. Just know that sh!t happens in every org, and if the UFC were the only game in town, that things would be bad for every fighter and fan.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          The majority of Kimbo’s exposure was on TUF. In terms of skill level, he fits right in there with the majority of guys on that show.

          He was never promoted as a top tier guy. Rogan kept on saying he was learning. That is how he should have been promoted from the start.

          And I have not said good things about the UFC signing James Toney. I think it’s stupid. He has no business in the UFC.

          My viewpoint is not utter garbage. It might be different then yours. That is it. I want to see the best fight each other. You would rather see some guys in different organizations with no chance of fighting each other. We have already seen co-promotion failing. You can’t promote properly with it. So that is out of the question.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Go ahead and takr a screen shot. I have not changed my tune for years. I have always said I wanted the UFC to rule all. People take it as a fanboy thing. It isn’t.

          It’s about seeing everybody under one banner. It’s about removing the politics of the fight business as much as possible. And one promoter to rule them all does the best at accomplishing that.

    • Nicholai says:

      I still think the Sean Gannon vs Brandon Lee Hinkle was one of the Biggest UFC Freakshow I remember. Kimbo Slice atleast had a few fights in a cage.

  10. […] I was watching this video interview that Sherdog did with Tyron Woodley last Saturday in St. Louis. That same night, Strikeforce ran their second ever event in St. Louis at the big 19,000 Scottrade Center, which used to be known as the Savvis Center or the Kiel Center. You don’t run that building because you are booking a modest show — you run that building because you want to do some serious numbers. The two times Strikeforce has ran that building, they’ve drawn around 8,000 both times. They went with a local draw in Robbie Lawler on the top of the card on the first event and for the second event they had Jesse Finney book the undercard. (This has become quite the topic de jour today on our site.) […]

  11. edub says:

    “It’s about seeing everybody under one banner. It’s about removing the politics of the fight business as much as possible. And one promoter to rule them all does the best at accomplishing that.”

    This is also my exact viewpoint. The only problem is will the UFC be willing to pay out enough money to make this the scenario. They are obvioulsy close to this already, but to me it seems this is already possible. Its not my money so I am inno position to give advice.

    I just happen to think its already possible and the UFC is unwilling to take things to a higher payscale.

    • edub says:

      Also a question to all:

      Do you guys think if the UFC made that final push and locked up ALL top tier talent and became de facto major leagues in MMA; would there be room for the watching of minor leagues(example would be if SF stayed around and became a feeder system to the UFC). Would there be enough demand for it?

    • I don’t think the UFC knows if it really wants to be in that position, or if they want a Strikeforce around to develop talent to this level before taking them. After all, does Strikeforce really change the payscale at the top of the pyramid? Not really. Does the UFC have any options out there to do significantly more shows with their current partners? Not really. So this somewhat symbiotic relationship might last awhile.

      • The Gaijin says:

        Without a place like Bellator or SF or even Elite XC (shudder) you wouldn’t have a place for fighters to build up a following and lots of “star” experience.

        When guys like King Mo, Jacare, Shields, Gegard, Lombard, Joe Warren, possibly Overeem or Antonio Silva crossover they will have a certain level of exposure that the UFC just isn’t able to provide them due to organizational constraints.

        Shields is Exhibit 1A – they have almost no one compelling to fight GSP, but now it looks like Shields is set up as the perfect challenger. I think you’ll see the same for some of these other guys as well and I’m not sure the UFC at least as their current structure looks can do this type of thing.

        Hell the Affliction’s and SF’s of the world allowed guys like Nick Diaz, Vitor Belfort and Robbie Lawler to go and reinvent themselves against a certain level of competition that would be tough to find if all that was left was regional feeder promotions and MFC.

  12. Isaiah says:

    It’s one thing to say that you want all the top talent to have the same promoter, but it’s another thing to just go ahead and pretend that it already does.

    Anyway, maybe I just lack vision, but I don’t see how the “major league” promoter model can work. For one thing, the UFC would have to stack its shows more, and if they’re not drawing more, they won’t be able to afford it. For another thing, geez, fighters’ leverage is already severely limited as it is and you want to limit it even more? In that scenario, I’d be very worried about MMA’s ability to attract top athletes.


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