Co-Promote Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champ vs. UFC Heavyweight ChampPosted on February 2, 2011, 04:23 PM by overhand right
2011 is sure to be a heavyweight orientated year for MMA. Come February 12, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix will ensue and with it the biggest event of the next 12 months. Heavyweight superstars such as Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum are just three among the eight legitimately talented fighters who will be competing for the title of what will in many fans' eyes be the number one heavyweight ranking, or at the very least number two.
Over at camp UFC, the newly anointed heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez, has been sidelined until possibly Autumn due to a shoulder injury. However the announcement of a new season of TUF, featuring former champ Brock Lesnar and current number one contender Junior Dos Santos has breathed new life and excitement into the division. The season is set to culminate in a heavyweight blockbuster number one contender fight scheduled for June, the winner of which will contend for the belt next.
Hopefully this will mean that by 2012 we will have a clear number one heavyweight in each promotion, either of which will likely slot into the number one spot of any reputable MMA pundit's heavyweight rankings. But, as always, there will be questions left and arguments will undoubtedly rage between fans over which champ should lay claim to the number one spot. Perhaps I am not the only one to consider a more pragmatic and simplistic answer to this question: let them fight.
Yes, this is a farfetched and certainly unlikely proposal, but isn't it what any passionate fan of the sport would favour? Dana White has certainly been vocal about what he thinks of the "smaller leagues", namely Strikeforce, perhaps because they are providing more competition for him than any other promotion? But if I may quote the UFC's master orator himself, "the best fight the best three times a year". Well one thing is for certain: the heavyweights competing in the superb tournament that Strikeforce has orchestrated are all within top 20 status and at least half of them are top ten in the eyes of the MMA media and fans alike. Here's another fact: the winner of the tournament will have fought three times in the space of a year (a feat that neither Lesnar nor Velasquez achieved in 2010 nor will they in 2011), and will have done it against some of the best in the division.
Let's assume that either of the two favourites, Overeem and Emelianenko win the tournament. To do so, they will have beaten a top ten opponent in the quarters (Big Foot or Werdum), a win over an opponent who would have become a top five/ten opponent by the semis and a glorious achievement in beating a top three/five opponent in the finals. That will be three wins over 'the best' in the division in one year by the end of the tourney. So surely for the UFC champ to fight the best he will have to take on the winner of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix? I certainly believe this to be the case and a fight of such gargantuant proportions would generate an immense interest in the sport and a sizeable revenue for any parties involved.
Obviously what I'm referring to is the fabled but too often dismissed co-promotional championship fight. Yes, the UFC has the number one fighter in each weight division but this upcoming tournament will throw a spanner in the works and create a real chasm of varying opinion of who the best is among the MMA fanbase. I can see the threads already: "Cain is number one, Strikefarce is bush leagues!", "UFC champ is Zuffa hyped garbage, the emperor has reclaimed his throne!". It's all talk at the end of the day. People can jabber on forever about who they think would beat who but when it comes right down to it, we really know nothing until the two combatants strap on the gloves and that cage door locks behind them. MMA is just too unpredictable and that's what makes it such a great sport to follow and ultimately makes fights like these worthwhile salivating over.
Will the UFC ever subscribe to such pleads from MMA fans? Well many of you may say that there isn't a hope in hell of Dana White ever teaming up with Scott Coker, even if it would be to promote possibly the biggest heavyweight fight of all time. Admittedly the UFC could have more to lose from such an endeavor than they would benefit. What would it say about the UFC if Brock Lesnar got knocked out in twenty seconds by an 'Ubereem' knee? Or if Cain Velasquez fell victim to the now prolific and infamous Fedor armbar? The illusion of UFC fighters being the elite would be utterly shattered, perhaps for good.
It wasn't so long ago however that the UFC was willing to cooperate with Pride, sending current superstar Chuck Liddell over to compete in the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix. Liddell's participation in the tournament ended with a loss to Rampage Jackson but it was a commendable effort on Liddell's part and earned him newfound respect among hardcore fans. Perhaps the UFC could allow one of its fighters to compete in a tournament outside the octagon once more. Only time will tell.
But MMA on the whole would benefit from such an event and most importantly, the fans. Fans who pay good money to watch UFC events and would hardly begrudge spending just as much if not a marginal amount more to watch a cross-promotional fight of epic proportions. Just imagine, we could finally get to see the Brock vs Fedor fight that never happened, Overeem tested against a great wrestler like Velasquez or an MMA legend like Barnett taking on young gun Dos Santos. Wouldn't you like to see these fights? I know I certainly would. Unfortunately, posting on here or any MMA forum is unlikely to make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
Winston Churchill once said, "there is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction". A co-promotional fight between two greats in the sport would certainly be a step in the right direction for MMA. If like me, you want to see these fights happen, then you have to take the initiative to let the company men aware of what we, the passionate lovers of the sport want to see. It is definitely a long shot but those who never try will never know, and if the UFC saw a large enough percentage of their fans take a keen interest in seeing these fights, then maybe, Dana White who has always claimed to make the fights the fans want to see, will wise up and start to work together with other promotions to grow the sport and promote MMA as the sport, not just the UFC.
So here is my proposal. This is not a begging letter nor is it an law I am imposing on the members of this site. It is simply an idea that you can either take or leave, it is completely up to you. If however, you agree with what I have written and would also like to see such a fight take place, then I would advise you to take 10 seconds out of your time to send an email to UFC, asking to make this fight happen.
If you do not feel like taking the time to personalize a message to the UFC, here is a generic message that you may send to firstname.lastname@example.org :
As a fan of MMA and a customer of Zuffa programming, I would like to request that the UFC partner with Strikeforce for one fight to determine the best heavyweight fighter on the planet. After the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament is complete, the winner will likely be perceived as the number 1 or number 2 heavyweight fighter on the planet and the UFC heavyweight champion will likely be perceived as the number 1 or number 2 heavyweight fighter in the world. The only way to find out is to witness them fight. Please consider making this mega fight happen to determine the best heavyweight fighter in the world, which many of your customers would love to see.
(Credit to Team Takeover member CDF47 for coming up with the email idea)