Opinion: The End of Strikeforce?
By Jesse Heitz
In previous pieces I’ve written extensively about the injury bug and the near catastrophes that have seemingly plagued the Zuffa brands of Strikeforce and the UFC as of late. We’ve seen an almost unprecedented level of injuries to headlining fighters and resultant card cancellations; to such a degree that even the juggernauts of the sport have been unable to recover from.
Yesterday, we learned that Strikeforce has had to cancel its planned November 3rd card due to the injury of Luke Rockhold, not to mention the prior withdrawal of Frank Mir from the main event bout against Daniel Cormier. Could we be seeing Strikeforce disintegrate before our very eyes?
Strikeforce boss Scott Coker stated in a company announcement that, “due to a series of injuries, we were forced to cancel the upcoming card on Nov. 3, but are already working to put together a stacked card in January”. However, I remain skeptical that we’ll see the stacked card Mr. Coker and Showtime Sports officials promise.
Upon hearing the news of the event’s cancellation, Strikeforce’s top heavyweight, Daniel Cormier, stated, “I wish somebody would have told me something.” In his interview with Ariel Helwani he went on to add “this is unbelievable. I’m very upset. I just want to be informed. That’s all. I don’t think that’s asking for too much.”
It’s safe to assume that the anger and frustration of Strikeforce fighters, which have seen their bank accounts shrivel up as a result of Strikeforce’s inability to function at an economically viable level, may lead to serious problems for the company in the future. Perhaps one could have looked the other way if Strikeforce had been firing on all cylinders the whole year, and if the cancellation of the November 3rd card had been merely a fluke. Yet, Strikeforce, arguably the second largest MMA promotion in the world has only held a paltry five shows this entire year, the last being Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman on August 18th. After this latest debacle, will Strikeforce be able to retain enough talent to even put on worthwhile shows?
We’ve held the belief that the days of Strikeforce being an independently operating promotion were limited when Zuffa acquired them and began the process of siphoning off their talent in the more profitable MMA flagship of the UFC. The question now becomes, will that talent drain further hasten the demise of Strikeforce as we know it?
Publicly, the company is maintaining a stiff upper lip, assuring the droves of displeased fans that bigger things are to come, that recompense is forthcoming, and that its lucrative relationship with Showtime is still in perfect working order. I have to think that the ineptitude of Strikeforce over the last few months, and perhaps over the course of this entirely disastrous year, places the Showtime deal in serious jeopardy. Is Zuffa willing to let such a foul taste remain in the mouth of one of the sport’s most prominent mainstream inlets?
I can’t say for certain that Strikeforce can’t recover from this latest setback, but I’m more inclined to believe that the wholesale absorption of Strikeforce by the UFC could be the end result of this latest fiasco. What the future holds for Strikeforce is anybody’s guess, but I think many of us can agree that the promotion’s days are numbered.