Can Strikeforce survive a post-merger world?


In the wake of yesterday's merger between the UFC and the WEC, Strikeforce's quest to carve out an equal space in the MMA world just got even more unlikely. But if you're Scott Coker, this is no time to despair. It's time to fight harder — and finally fix the slew of problems that have been dragging you down. So here's what you do...

No more "Challengers" cards until further notice
The bottom line is, your roster isn't deep enough to pull it off, and nobody gives a fuck. We just came off of a Challengers event that was headlined — I said headlined— by Roger Bowling vs. Bobby Voelker. For God's sake, the next Raging Wolf card is more stacked. Strikeforce should abandon their minor-league series, and stick all those prospects onto the prelims of their larger Showtime cards (more on that next). If that means fewer events, so be it. Sure, you want to develop your brand by holding regular shows around the country, but just as importantly, you want to associate your brand with excellence and excitement. And let's be honest, Strikeforce can't be turning a profit on those Challengers cards anyway.

Hire a steady stable of ring girls
As I understand it, Strikeforce outsources their ring girl hiring to Rockstar, which means that the eye-candy changes from show to show. I've learned first-hand that not even the Strikeforce media relations team has any idea who these girls are, which makes it hard when you want to do a Hot Potato post about Girl on the Right. Through their superior promotional skills, the UFC has made us care more about a Mexican-American model named Arianny than 90% of Strikeforce's fighter roster. The idea is so simple that it's astounding Strikeforce hasn't done it yet: Hire the three hottest chicks you can find, and tell fans their names. Send them on promotional appearances, put them in magazines, and make them part of the show. And you guys were onto something with the body paint.

Work With Bellator
And by "work with" I mean "merge with." Instead of Bjorn Rebney and Scott Coker squabbling over inter-promotional matchups that will probably never happen due to logistics, the two leagues should just bite the bullet and join forces. Swallowing up Bellator's fighters helps Strikeforce's roster problem. Taking Bellator's Fox Sports Net contract — as flawed as it is — temporarily solves their basic cable problem. With the UFC hulking up after the WEC merger, there's simply no room for two organizations trying to compete for the scraps. As a single entity, Strikeforce and Bellator may even be able strong enough to put on the occasional pay-per-view show, which has to be the end financial goal for any MMA organization. We'll call the new promotion... BELLAFORCE! Okay, maybe not, but you get the idea.

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tags: Strikeforce   Bellator   UFC   WEC   

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Recent Comments »

CagePotato site profile image  

10/30/10 2:54 PM by CagePotato

Three weeks ago today, Dana White called my cell and threatened to "fuck [me] up worse than [I've] ever been fucked." So, no.

Steve4192 site profile image  

10/30/10 2:44 PM by Steve4192

Strikeforce is scared to death to let anyone else get their foot in the door with Showtime. With good reason. M-1 is already trying to weasel their way into a Showtime broadcast deal, and you can bet your ass that Bellator will try to do the same if given the opportunity.Showtime does not have a bottomless MMA budget. The money has to come from somewhere. Coker is no dummy. He knows that every dollar Showtime gives to promoters like M-1 and Bellator is a dollar that used to be earmarked to go in his pocket. He is going to scratch and claw to keep the Showtime gravy train all to himself. He sure as hell isn't going to open the door for those guys to come in and steal his broadcast deal.

Uncle Justice site profile image  

10/30/10 1:22 PM by Uncle Justice

I tend to agree that the Challenger cards don't seem to fit quite right.  I think a minor adjustment, like perhaps including one fight that would normally be on a premiere event as the main or co-main, would help boost interest.   I think DREAM's financial issues and Fedor losing took a lot of wind out of that triumvirate. Nothing was more exciting to me about Strikeforce than their HW division and swapping talent with DREAM. I think SF should make an honest attempt to meet with Bellator on forming an alliance, or at least for putting together a few cross-promoted shows (or preferably tournaments).  

Italians Copy Greeks site profile image  

10/30/10 8:30 AM by Italians Copy Greeks

 If the Challenger Cards can be used the same way as ShoBox, then it's worth it for prospect development. Strikeforce's biggest problem is that nobody ever knows when they're on, even fans of the sport who would watch are unaware of live MMA on tv. With all their depth at HW, they aren't making the matches that people want to see. They have Fedor, Werdum, Overeem, Barnett, Sergei, Cormier, DelRosario all under their banner and aren't making compelling matches. 

Forssberg site profile image  

10/30/10 6:47 AM by Forssberg

Very interesting article. It may be wrong but interesting nonetheless.

Nuetraman site profile image  

10/30/10 6:23 AM by Nuetraman

is Cagepotato working for Zuffa?

AnthonyBrancato site profile image  

10/30/10 5:51 AM by AnthonyBrancato

But what ever became of the Strikeforce/Dream/M-1 Global "Axis of Evil" that was supposed to seriously challenge Zuffa for MMA supremacy? That would have constituted fighting merger-fire with merger-fire.

smoogy site profile image  

10/30/10 5:46 AM by smoogy

Challengers is an effective "lead-in" event to have a week or so before a major SF card to get people thinking about the brand. The idea that they need to stop doing Challengers to survive, as you explained it, it completely retarded. Since apparently having an annoying "diva" presence like Arianny in UFC is vital to their survival, I guess you figured they also need to cancel a big chunk of their shows to match Zuffa cancelling the entire slate of WEC cards?

croatian site profile image  

10/30/10 5:38 AM by croatian

The Challenger series is not intended to highlight UFC washouts or "name guys" It's intended to bring along fighters that will be name guys. Tyron Woodley for instance.

CagePotato site profile image  

10/29/10 7:59 PM by CagePotato

Don't miss the point: There's a lot of stuff that the UFC does from a promotional standpoint -- branding/pushing their ring girls, DW constantly tweeting with fans -- that helps fans build a personal connection with the company. The ring girl thing is just an example.