First of all, I want to make this perfectly clear. I am a big fan of Strikeforce. Sure, they may not have the same wealth of talent, or put on as good cards, but they have spirit, and a desire to overcome the odds and actually challenge Dana White and the UFC. But, there is a lot of problems currently going on over there, ones which need to be addressed very soon, before it kills the company. This is merely a look at where the company has to improve upon, to stay where they are.
The Fedor Problem:
This is a major issue. Fedor, a fighter I have loved watching since i first discovered MMA way back when, has just lost. While real fans like myself will still keep the faith, the problem is that casual fans lose interest when a fighter loses. Not only this, but with Fedor’s loss, he also lost much of his mystique. No longer is he the God-like Russian warrior feared around the MMA world, but now he is “the guy who got tapped out by a UFC reject” to casual fans. Strikeforce invested so much in Fedor, and while his fans want to see him fight again, the truth is, many buy into Dana White’s stories about how overrated he was, and have already lost interest.
The Heavyweight Division
Strikeforce is lucky enough to posses a few very good Heavyweights, but seem to make strange match choices. The prime example is Fedor vs Rogers.Brett Rogers gets the chance to fight Fedor Emilianenko, and loses. Following this, instead of Overeem vs Fedor, considered by many to be the greatest Heavyweight ever, Scott Coker decides Fedor will fight Fabricio Werdum .While Fedor vs Overeem would have made perfect sense, given Overeem’s status as the Strikeforce HW Champion. Instead, Stikeforce awards Brett Rogers a title shot, despite his last fight being a loss to Fedor. Overeem promptly dismantles Rogers. Now, Strikeforce should be giving Werdum, who went on to defeat Fedor, the shot against Overeem, but instead settled on a rematch between Werdum and Fedor. This effectively removes all relevance from the Strikeforce HW title, instead almost making Fedor the title. Now, Alistair Overeem is expected to fight Big Foot Silva, a decent opponent, but Overeem is way out of his level. With Fedor’s loss, Strikeforce should have made Werdum vs Overeem for the belt, and Fedor vs Big Foot.
Top fighters keep losing:
In the UFC, if Anderson Silva, or Georges St. Pierre, or even Brock Lesnar were to lose, fans will watch to see how they climb back to the top, or indeed fans will still stay with the promotion because for every big fighter who falls, a new one emerges. In Strikeforce, most recently so many of their biggest fighters have lost. King Mo, Bobby Lashley, Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler, Gegard Mousasi, Fedor Emilianenko, and Andrei Arlovski have all picked up losses in their last outing. While this might not seem such a large number, a lot of these guys, especially Henderson and Fedor, cost the company seriously large amounts of cash, and were expected to bring plenty of new fans to the organization. With both losing in their last outings, where both of their opponents were strong underdogs, this has hit Strikeforce big time. As sad is it is to admit, Bobby Lashley is arguably their biggest problem. His defeat to the relatively unknown Chad Griggs will cost Strikeforce a lot of WWE fans, curious to see how he fared in real combat.
Lack of build-up for the new talent
Strikeforce currently has quite a few well established group of fighters among their ranks. While this in itself is great, the company does not seem intent on building up new fighters. They only seem willing to invest time and promotional work in those the fans are already aware of, instead of new guys. Take the recent LHW bout between Strikeforce’s Golden Child King Mo and Rafeal “Feijao” Cavalcante. Going into the fight, very few fans were familiar with the Heavy handed Brazilian. Leading up to the bout, most of Strikeforce’s PR work was aimed at King Mo, making him the star of the show. Going into this fight, very few people expected Mo to lose, due to the expectations placed upon him by his bosses. But, on Saturday night, Feijao caught Mo big time and delivered and epic third round then a KO. Now fans don’t really know the guy carrying the Light Heavyweight belt. While real fans are aware of him, the loudmouth King Mo was a self-marketing self hype machine.
In my eyes, these are just four of the things holding Strikeforce back. The most important thing to remember is that Strikeforce, compared to the UFC, is still in it’s infancy. The company must learn to walk before they run. Make no mistake; Strikeforce is not just another EliteXC. In a few years time, Strikeforce will be a major force in the MMA world, provided they build up on their up and coming fighters, and will have a very bright future.