Editors Note: Mike Reilly is the owner and head instructor of Ambition MMA, located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ambition MMA is home to many of the Twin Cities’ top fighters, including Brett Rogers and Kelly Kobold. Reilly has agreed to join FiveOuncesofPain.com as an occasional contributor in order to provide our readers with an inside perspective of a respected MMA trainer.
Two years ago Strikeforce was the best regional show in the world. I believe it can now be argued that the “regional” qualifier be dropped.
In front of a knowledgeable and frenzied San Jose crowd, Strikeforce put on another fantsastic show to close out the year with “Strikeforce: Evolution“, and really, the entire l last half of 2009 Strikeforce has put on one amazing show after another. They have shattered the women’s MMA barrier, created their own superstars, loaded their rosters with talent and gained the push of broadcasting titans Showtime and CBS. Furthermore, they have formed partnerships in Europe and Japan. But most of all they have delivered exciting cards on a consistent basis. Show after show Strikeforce has been bringing fans amazing match-ups, great presentation and excellent commentary. The Company pushes the fighters front and center and lets them shine.
Lets look back on the year, shall we…
- April 11 Strikeforce in San Jose; first fight on Showtime. All five bouts on the main card get out of the first round and all end in knockouts. On this night, Benji Radach and Scott Smith put on the what was possibly the fight of the year and arguably one of the top fights of all time. We see the emergence of Nick Diaz as a dominant force as he chops down “The Legend”, Frank Shamrock.
- Seven weeks later in St. Louis, Strikeforce sells out in a new town. The stacked card delivers big time as a re-born Joe Riggs wins a war with Phil Baroni, Brett Rogers shocks the world with his lightning fast destruction of Andrei Arlovski, and Jake Shields leaves no doubt that he is one of the very best.
- On August 15 Strikeforce braves what no one else would have dared; they made a women’s fight the main event on a major card. They placed the show on the shoulder of two women and Cris Cyborg along with Gina Carano carried it off. That same card introduced America to Gegard Mousasi, a young man who is currently on a fourteen fight win streak and may well be the best light heavyweight in the world.
- Then Strikeforce pulls off the coup of the year and signs Fedor. On November 11 they hit the windy city with a show seen by some seven million people on network television. Fans are treated to an amazing show, complete with close hard hitting fights complete with compelling stories.
- Finally they cap the year with an early Christmas present for all MMA fans. On December 19 Strikeforce puts two of their new home grown stars center stage as King Mo and Jacare wow fight fans, each knocking off well established veterans. Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson‘s long awaited title fight proves worth the wait as they battle five full rounds of non-stop action. And then Cung Le puts on a show for his fans that was poetry in motion until Scott Smith stole the whole damn show. Who can really say enough about Smith. Le joins ranks with Pete Sell and Benji Radach as guys who have beat the living hell out of Smith only to wake up to arena lights. When Scott Smith dies they had better bury that boy deep because six feet won’t be enough.
Strikeforce has proven up to the challenge of being a major league; a world leader in the fastest growing sport. They have done so with confidence and humility. I predict 2010 will be the year of Strikeforce, and it should be great for everyone. Even the other big dog in the room will benefit as steel sharpens steel. But for fans who love MMA, your year is set. The early part of the year is sure to see Strikeforce newcomers like Bobby Lashely, Herschel Walker, and of course Dan Henderson in the Strikeforce Cage. Plus Strikeforce’s challenger series continues to pump out new stars. Make sure you get Showtime, a video game console that plays EA Sports, and prepare yourself for the best year the sport has ever seen.