The inaugural Strikeforce event on CBS is in the books, and millions of Americans have gotten their first taste of the living legend known as Fedor. Jake Shields took home some gold, Gegard Mousasi gave another display of his unbeatable striking, and Fabricio Werdum showed why belongs amongst the elite at heavyweight. Strikeforce and CBS did some things right, and they certainly did some things wrong. Here’s how I see it breaking down:
THUMBS UP to Fedor being as good as advertised for his primetime debut. The pre-show hype was built around Fedor’s status as the best in the world, and he delivered upon that promise in a fantastic main event. Give some credit to Rogers (if you like) but the night obviously belonged to “The Last Emperor.” He got busted up, but a broken nose is practically a paper cut compared to some of the damage he’s taken in the past. He also hurt his hand so it may be a little while longer before he returns to the cage, and as of now it’s pretty unclear who his next opponent might be. Speaking of which…
THUMBS DOWN to the championship confusion. So if you were just hearing about Strikeforce for the first time on Saturday, how would you possibly know what is going on in the promotion? Jake Shields and Jason “Mayhem” Miller fight for the vacant middleweight belt, and that’s all well and good. Then Fedor and Rogers come out and there’s the WAMMA belt. Wouldn’t you wonder who the hell WAMMA is? Wouldn’t you also wonder why the “best fighter in the world” wasn’t fighting for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship? The casual viewer has no idea that the company’s title is currently collecting dust in a closet somewhere in Holland. The belts are only valuable if people care about them, and right now the Strikeforce heavyweight belt is worth about $5.
THUMBS UP to Jake Shields and his unstoppable grappling skills. It wasn’t always entertaining, but it’s the strategy we knew Shields would employ. He’s not a striker so there wasn’t much reason for him to try and stand with Miller. Instead he took “Mayhem” down at will and was able to control him almost the entire time, easily passing the guard and taking full mount several times. Shields may not have gotten the submissions he was going for but he did win in pretty dominant fashion. Some people want to call Shields boring because of the way this fight went down, but those same people need to be reminded that this is a guy that has finished his last eight opponents. Saturday night he was in against a guy that’s all but impossible to finish, and you saw the results.
THUMBS UP to “Mayhem“ Miller and his entrance. It had flash, which was sorely needed on this card. It’s too bad for him that the third round wasn’t 10 seconds longer (for some reason or another) but otherwise what could he do?
THUMBS DOWN to Gegard Mousasi‘s future in Strikeforce. I’m really happy that Strikeforce brought Mousasi to America, as he’s the kind of exciting young fighter they need. I’m also really unhappy that Strikeforce brought Mousasi to America, because I’d rather see him in the UFC.
Let’s face the facts, there is literally nothing for Mousasi to do in the Strikeforce light heavyweight division. Who’s the company’s top contender right now? Mike Whitehead? Former champ Bobby Southworth? Oh wait, he’s trying to get on the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” There’s Muhammed “King Mo” Luwal (who will debut in December), but he’s still relatively green as an MMA fighter and will need some building up first. I’m not sure if Strikeforce can come up with the necessary scratch to sign Dan Henderson, but if they do I’d give “Hendo” good odds to end Mousasi’s double-digit win streak. That’s just speculation though.
If Mousasi were in the UFC there would be a veritable buffet of intriguing match-ups. Machida, Rua, Silva (pick one), Cane, etc. The company is undergoing some heavy changes in their light heavyweight division, and they need all the young fighters they can get if they want the weight class to remain competitive. If I were a voice in Dana White’s head I’d be telling him to sign Mousasi at any cost.
THUMBS DOWN to not seeing the ladies. The bout between Marloes Coenen and Roxanne Modaferri was slated to be featured on the main broadcast with time permitting. The fight took 65 seconds for Coenen to get the submission win, yet they couldn’t find time to show it? Obviously the title fight ate up a lot of time, but it seems to me that they could’ve squeezed the ladies in after Mousasi finished Sokoudjou. Coenen is now slated to be next in line for a shot at Cris Cyborg’s championship, but they lost a key opportunity to create any sort of build for her on Saturday.
THUMBS UP to Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum opening the show. The night started and ended with heavyweights, and both fights were the best of the evening. Silva nearly finished this one in a hurry, but Werdum was able to survive and force this one to a second round. From there on he got to display his superior grappling, taking the second and third rounds pretty decisively. He called out Fedor at the post-fight press conference but with Fedor’s immediate future uncertain at the moment, Werdum may have to try and get his second win over Alistair Overeem instead.
Also, I say let’s see Silva vs. Rogers.
THUMBS DOWN to Strikeforce screwing two of their fighters. Mark Miller and Deray Davis were slated for a welterweight bout on the evening’s preliminary card. During the pre-lim fights, members of the media were informed that Miller and Davis would be fighting at the end of the night. Apparently Strikeforce wanted to make sure that the women’s bout was completed before the live broadcast started. According to reports, when the Coenen/Modaferri fight ended there were thirty minutes left before the live show. Once the main event ended, the media was asked to move upstairs for the post-fight press conference. Nobody was informed as to why the Miller/Davis fight had been scrapped. Apparently the fighters were getting ready to walk out to the cage when they were informed that their fight was off.
It gets worse. Reports are surfacing that Miller and Davis were paid their money to show, but neither man got a win bonus. According to a post on the Underground forums one of the fighters lost all his sponsorship money because the fight didn’t happen. These were two hometown fighters, each had gone through training camp and prepared for this night. There’s no logical reason as to why they didn’t get to fight. There was time during the preliminary portion of the card, since two of the pre-lim fights ended in under 2 minutes. There was also, obviously, plenty of time after the main event. Who cares if they would have been fighting in an empty arena?
Strikeforce had a contract with those two men and they failed to honor it. It’s a sour note to what was otherwise a successful evening, but let’s hope it’s a mistake they don’t make again.