Eighteen months ago Mixed Martial Arts fans jumped for joy when it was revealed that Zuffa had purchased Strikeforce. The move appeared to give the organization new direction, backing from a group viewed as experts in the field, and a strategic partnership with the sport’s biggest brand. The notion of super-fights was thrown around where Strikeforce stars would collide with those calling the Octagon home and, in general, the future looked bright for a company that once held the North American attendance record for a MMA event.
Sadly, things have gone in a downward spiral ever since. The UFC plucked a number of Strikeforce’s biggest names to add to their own roster and absorbed the heavyweight division. Shows have been under-promoted, attendance has steadily declined, and last month Strikeforce decided to cancel a card after Showtime refused to air a lineup lacking a legitimate headliner when lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez was forced out with an injury.
Now, with Strikeforce’s November 3 show in serious jeopardy due to withdrawals from Frank Mir, Luke Rockhold, and Sara McMann, it looks like Strikeforce may be on life support rather than the thriving promotion many felt it would become back in March 2011. According to a report on Inside MMA, Showtime is contemplating the axing of the November event and, if such comes to pass, it will likely spell the end of the broadcaster’s relationship with Strikeforce.
“I think in this particular case, if this happens it’s like two strikes and out,” added co-host Bas Rutten on the matter. “I don’t think you can cancel a show three times. Fans are not gonna take it. They’re not gonna buy tickets anymore. The fans are gonna go, ‘Ahhh, the show’s not gonna happen anyways.’”
Conversely, UFC correspondant Ariel Helwani went on Twitter to dispute the report, saying he’d spoken to a high-ranking Showtime official who said (as of right now) the show is still scheduled and their relationship with Strikeforce hasn’t changed.
If Strikeforce does indeed disintegrate with the loss of Showtime it seems likely the remaining fighters will be folded into the UFC.
Check out the segment from Inside MMA below:
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE