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A sneaky tactic that Strikeforce is considering with their upcoming tournaments

By Zach Arnold | July 21, 2010

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If you thought the debate over “the champion’s clause” was a big issue in negotiations between Fedor and Strikeforce, wait until Strikeforce negotiates with top-level talent for upcoming ‘tournaments’ they want to promote.

During a Sherdog radio interview on Monday, Strikeforce boss Scott Coker was asked why the promotion went ahead with a Middleweight title fight between Tim Kennedy & Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza as opposed to a tournament. Mr. Coker said that ‘his team’ decided that it would be better to have a title fight first as opposed to having a tournament while leaving the MIddleweight belt vacant. He noted that the promotion plans an 8-man Middleweight tournament, with the opening round in October and then a one-night tournament in December. The winner of the 8/21 Houston fight will face the December tournament winner in a title fight at the end of January.

However, the big takeaway from the Sherdog interview is that Scott talked about the idea of ‘tournament titles.’ It was brought up in a larger context as to whether or not it was a good idea for Strikeforce to have titles and if they were important. Mr. Coker said that titles were important.

In a very clever way, Strikeforce using ‘tournament titles’ will allow them to double-down on the ‘champion’s clause’ and, in essence, guarantee that tournament winners and promotional champions will have to face each other. It’s like taking the old PRIDE format where you had GP titles and the winner would face the champion, but in this scenario you apply the champion’s clause and legally try to force the fight to happen.

But wait, there’s more.

Mr. Coker was asked about the fact that one-night tournament fights could end up being two rounds instead of three. He said that they were talking to multiple state athletic commissions and trying to find an area where they could do three-round fights… but that he, as a promoter, could justify two-round tournament fights by saying that the action will be more intense in the two rounds since there will be no time to waste.

He noted that Strikeforce title fights, such as Fedor/Overeem if it happens, are ‘very relevant in the MMA space.’

When asked to name potential names for the upcoming Middleweight tournament, Scott mentioned the following: Nick Diaz (who will fight at both 185 and 170), Mayhem Miller, Robbie Lawler, Joey Villasenor, Benji Radach (who Mr. Coker is very high on), Kazuo Misaki (who has one fight left on SF deal), Melvin Manhoef, and one other person. ‘The best fighters at 185 that we have to offer.’

Another interesting fact that was lost upon MMA insiders was something Mr. Coker said in a previous Sherdog radio interview when he was talking about negotiating with Monte Cox to get Robbie Lawler in the Middleweight tournament. Scott said that there would be negotiations as to whether or not winning the 8-man tournament would count as 3 fights or 2 fights on a contract. The obvious implication (in my opinion) being that if it counts only for 2 fights, the promotion won’t have to pay out as much money.

Regarding what’s next between Strikeforce and Fedor, Mr. Coker said that nothing is settled right now as far as ‘who, where, when, and how’ for a fight. He did note the following regarding an offer to Alistair Overeem to Fedor’s camp:

“They’ve had a hard time accepting but I think they’ve gotten through that now, so that’s on the table now as well.”

It was noted that if Alistair beats Fedor, ‘then we might have a value difference’ at the negotiation table with Fedor’s camp for a new contract. The phrase ‘very touchy situation’ was used several times. Regarding the possibilty of Werdum vs. Overeem, Scott said that ‘there has been that conversation and depending on whether we get Fedor back in the cage,’ that match-up could still happen.

He did address the rumors of a re-match between Aoki and Gilbert Melendez. Mr. Coker was not opposed to the re-match happening… in Japan, in the ring, and using DREAM rules. He feels that Gilbert would win the re-match but that it will be a more challenging fight under those different circumstances.

Regarding signing Paul Daley: “We’re going to wait and see what happens with the suspension up in Canada.” Don’t hold your breath. It’s a nice way for Scott to say that he’s not bringing in Daley.

He’s really interested in booking Bobby Lashley vs. Dave Batista and thinks that he can get that fight approved by an athletic commission.

Mr. Coker called Nick Diaz “truly one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.”

Dan Henderson will no longer fight at Middleweight (185 pounds) and is a Light Heavyweight (205 pounds) for the rest of his career. His next fight will be against either Gegard Mousasi or Renato Babalu.

Herschel Walker’s next fight will be in October or November and he just started his new training camp with American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose 2 ~ 3 weeks ago.

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 33 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

33 Responses to “A sneaky tactic that Strikeforce is considering with their upcoming tournaments”

  1. Jeff says:

    Wow, surprised to see Hendo call it a career at MW.

  2. chris says:

    Thats BS. If you step into a cage, even if it’s twice in one night thats 2 different fights. Not 1. If Coker and co. pull some wonkyness only paying their fighters for “1” fight, and therefore it only counts as 1 fight on your contract it’s horseshit. Regardless if there’s a final round winner and losers bonus that would be comparable to their paychecks. SF is just becoming more and more of a headache for me as a long time mma fan. There’s so little hope and much less promise left. Kinda like TNA. meh.

  3. Coyote says:

    Strikeforce begins with the serius bussines. The UFC at firts tries to be good with the fighters, give them options, make co-promotions, etc… but the fighters leave UFC for money in Jap, or another promotions.

    That makes UFC change the rules of the contract game, now Strikeforce goes in the same direction.

    All the fighters can blame Jake Shields and Fedor Emelianenko for this kind of changes in the politics of Scott Coker and Company.

    Right now, i can see Coker like Dana, an excelent bussiness but without all the bullshit. Give him credit, he is competing with the most bigger company in the MMA world. And he is doing a great job.

    ¿At last the Fedor lost, doesnt sound so bad for Strikeforce?.

    • IceMuncher says:

      “Right now, i can see Coker like Dana, an excelent bussiness but without all the bullshit.”

      Dana paid Dustin Hazelett his show and win purse for a fight that fell through at the last minute through no fault of his own, or Dustin’s for that matter. Coker almost didn’t pay two healthy and willing fighters for a fight that was bumped off the card because Strikeforce ineptly ran out of time on the broadcast, and only paid them after a public backlash. Now, he’s asking his fighters to fight two fights in one night for the price of one. Dana’s an ass at times, but he’s fairer and nicer to his fighters than Coker is.

      Plus, when you hear Dana say that he wants to put two fighters in a match, that’s usually exactly what happens. Coker throws every name he has out there, and finishes by saying “there’s a lot of things we can do, we’ll have to take a look at the situation and talk to people”. After hearing that noncommital crap 50 times, I no longer care what he says when he talks about potential matchups.

  4. Derreck says:

    “Right now, i can see Coker like Dana, an excelent bussiness but without all the bullshit.”

    Really? I see the opposite. I haven\’t seen anything from Scott Coker that would indicate hes an excellent business man, and what hes trying to pull is complete BS.

    How the hell does fighting twice in one night constitute as 1 fight? Pride tried to do that to Mirko in 06 and he rightfully threatened to pull out of the open weight tournament. If Coker tries to pull that garbage the fighters need to decline.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I do not remember the 2/3 fight issue being brought up in the interview.

    OVerall, I thought that it was a very good interview, and i think that Coker showed more honesty than other promoters would have.

  6. Paradoxx says:

    “It was noted that if Alistair beats Fedor, ‘then we might have a value difference’ at the negotiation table with Fedor’s camp for a new contract.”

    A Value difference? Once Overeem beats Fedor… $5 and Fedor’s contract will get you a happy meal at McDonalds.

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    The thing is that most of his more popular fighters are extremely wise to his antics. Which means they are just going to avoid tournaments just like they avoid title fights.

    Coker has sounded like a clueless promoter since Werdum beat Fedor. 2010 has really shown his lack of foresight in promoting events.

    Also, if he does try to put the hooks into his fighters, all they are going to do is avoid signing with him in the first place.

    What he needs to do is stop trying to compete with the UFC. Having championship clauses means he is trying to compete with the UFC and retain talent that the UFC can’t obtain. That just puts a huge target on his back.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Another thing they are doing is those horrible female tournaments. First, nobody cares about the females. Filling up your cards with multiple female fights does nothing for SF. And to make things worse, they aren’t even going to discuss opponents until the day of the weigh-ins. Which means they are just selling it based on the idea of a tournament. Not the fighters themselves. “Clueless Coker” is his new name.

      And fighters in Strikeforce need to be competing in a minimum of 15 minute fights.

      And Pride and DREAM already taught us that tournaments don’t work as far too often there is either an unfair advantage (Mirko/Barnett 3) or the loser advances (Misaki).

      At least now with Fedor losing, Lawal/Diaz/Melendez being without opponents, and Shields leaving for the UFC…. Fewer and fewer people are even discussing Strikeforce as any sort of major league organization anymore.

      • Jonathan says:

        Did you listen to the radio interview? Coker came across as a promoter who has a plan and is trying to execute it. I listened to the interview and thought that it was very insightful, and I never remember him or the Sherdog guys bringing up the 2/3 fight issue.

        And 45 Huddle, you say that female MMA does not matter. I think that while it may not matter as much as male MMA, it sure as hell is fun to watch. And there are a lot of female MMA fighters that you can get behind (no pun intended). Look at the Fightlinker / Roxanne Modaferri relationship there. She has a ton of Fightlinker Jackals pulling for her.

        I understand that you are down on this post because it is about Strikeforce. If you had the exact some report where “Dana White” replaced “Scott Coker” and “UFC” replaced “Strikeforce”, you would love it I am sure.

        • Zach Arnold says:

          Coker came across as a promoter who has a plan and is trying to execute it.

          He’s always came across as that. That’s the point. He says a lot of things and doesn’t execute.

      • robthom says:

        “Filling up your cards with multiple female fights does nothing for SF.”

        I wouldn’t be none to interested in more than 1 girl fight per card. But they could still have a multicard “tournament” with one fight per card without getting all whip it on us.

        In fact I dont really care for multiple fights on the same night with dudes either. Always a somewhat “asterisk” win IMO and I hope they go the multiple events route instead.

  8. noksucow says:

    None of this matters since this tournament idea will never get sanctioned.

    I want to trash Scott Coker, but at the same time, we don’t know about all the crap that he has to deal with, whether it be Showtime or M-1.

    • IceMuncher says:

      They can get it sanctioned easily enough, but in most states they’ll only be allowed 2 rounds per fight.

      • Mr. Roadblock says:

        What happens in a tournament of 2 round fights when you have a draw?

        Seems like it’s real easy to get a draw in a 2 round fight.

        • Chuck says:

          Over time round, K-1 style? Force judges to use half points in scoring (like 10-8.5)?

        • Wolverine says:

          do it YAMMA style – make it a 1 round fight 🙂

        • Phil says:

          Last time they had the ref pick a winner.

          I think I’d rather have the judges make a “must decision” like in sengoku.

  9. Jeff says:

    Sort of related: everyone needs to check out the new Sherdog piece on Bellator allegedly screwing Dave Herman out of fights. Seems all promoters are the same, no matter how hard the internet thinks there is a “good guy”.

  10. smoogy says:

    The constant second guessing of Scott Coker/Strikeforce/Showtime is so banal. Here is a story that would actually make for an interesting topic:

    • 45 Huddle says:

      It’s not banal.

      Showtime has been running in complete circles since they started putting MMA on their channel on February 2007. Since that time they have put on around 35 events (including the CBS shows) and we have seen zero progess from them. 3 1/2 years and not one PPV. They have basically burnt out their options on CBS. There is negative progress. And each division right now is in complete disarray. Now, I know people might give the “Strikeforce wasn’t there the entire time” excuse….. But if Showtime basically run things as most people assume, then they are either the slowst learners ever or completely horrible at promoting MMA. I think these discussions to need to be made.

      As for Bellator….

      This adds some extra fuel to the problems people have with their CEO. Once again, a smaller organization doesn’t understand their place in the pecking order of things in the sport. Bellator should be around to create talent…. Not to try and hold onto them at all costs and to hurt fighters careers. By not understand their role, they are just going to create bad press for themselves and hurt their business. I don’t think they will be around past season 3…. But if their handling of Herman is any indication…. We could see many fighters held up for months as they screw them around as they leave the sport….

      • Jonathan says:

        45 Huddle,

        You say that it is a bad thing that they have not run a PPV, but at the same time you say that it is bad that they are “competing” with the UFC. I think that putting on a PPV would be big time competing with the UFC, and let’s be honest here for a moment:

        If they did put on a PPV, you would be the first person in the world claiming that it is total BS that they are asking people to pay for such a “shitty” product.

        Admit it, you are a total f*cking mark. If you hate it so much, then why post? It does not need to be said, and you are not adding anything to discussion other than to point out that Strikeforce is not the all-mighty UFC, which I think we all pretty much knew.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Your my Internet stalker….

          PPV was their goal that they couldn’t pull off. So they failed at even low level goals.

          Not competing with the UFC is something I (me) thinks is a good idea. They aren’t smart enough to pull off high level MMA without tons of problems.

        • edub says:

          “Admit it, you are a total f*cking mark. If you hate it so much, then why post? It does not need to be said, and you are not adding anything to discussion other than to point out that Strikeforce is not the all-mighty UFC, which I think we all pretty much knew.”

          Omit this whole paragraph, and people probably take what you say a little more serious.

          Internet stalking is a serious offense. Punishment: being in the new video Two bloggers One cup…

        • Jonathan says:

          When you spout off with bullshit and get up on your high horse, then yes, I am going to say something. It is obvious what your motives are and what you want to happen. We’ve talked about this numerous times. So until I see stop posting obvious posts shilling for the UFC and bashing everything that is not the UFC, then I’ll step in and say something.

          I enjoy the sport of MMA. You love front-runners and bashing everything that is not the UFC. Until you stop that, I’ll be countering your BS posts.

  11. nottheface says:

    To me it seems fairly obvious that when Coker asks if winning the 8-man tournament counts as 2 fights or 3, what he is actually talking about is the number of events the fighter has signed on for, not the number of purses he collects. i.e. If he signed Lawler to a 3-fight contract he is hoping to use him for 3 events, but it he fights in the two night tournament and makes it to the championship then he’s burned through all three fights with nothing left on the contract.

    As for the rules involving a four-man, single-elimination tournament, we need only look at their Four Men Enter, One Man Survives event back in 2007. Each bracket consisted of two five-minute rounds, with a third round being fought in the case of a tie. I believe this is what Coker has in mind when discussing 2 round fights.

    Finally, I for one look forward to Strikeforce employing the Championship Clause if only to finally get it thrown out in court. I also look forward to the potential spectacle of seeing Zuffa lawyers trying to defend the Strikeforce Championship clause against a suit brought on a Nick Diaz or Alistair Overeem trying to go out of their contract to go fight in the UFC.

    • Steve4192 says:

      “Finally, I for one look forward to Strikeforce employing the Championship Clause if only to finally get it thrown out in court”

      They have already used it on Sarah Kaufmann. She was waiting for them contact her about negotiating an extension and only to discover that they just exercised the champion’s clause without even bothering to negotiate with her. Say what you will about Zuffa, but at least they treat the champion’s clause as a last resort rather and actually negotiate in good faith with their champions so they don’t have to use it.

      • notthface says:

        There is a reason they used it on Kaufmann: women’s mma is an afterthought. There is also a reason why Zuffa hasn’t used it yet and it has nothing to do with negotiating in good faith. They learned their lesson from the exodus of champions in the early days of Zuffa and always negotiate an extension one or two fights before the contract runs out. And why do fighters always sign new contracts? Obviously they offer them more money, but they also hold the threat of delaying their last two fights as long as possible and then putting them on crappy cards (extra painful for those earning ppv bonuses) if they don’t. So a champ who is thinking of striking out on his own or going free agent is looking at a freeze where it takes two years to book his final two fights and then maybe another year or two of expensive legal fees to break the championship clause. That is a lot of lost time and earning potential for an athlete to give up during his peak years.

  12. David M says:

    Im in shock at seeing Strikeforce called sneaky. That is the highest compliment Coker has received in a long time.

    • robthom says:

      “Im in shock at seeing Strikeforce called sneaky. That is the highest compliment Coker has received in a long time.”


      Thats what he needs to be doing. In general and with M1 specifically.

      Strikeforce has done it before.”

      Really? I didn’t know that.
      When was this?

  13. Chromium says:

    I thought fighting twice in one night was prohibited under the Unified Rules…


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