The forums are abuzz with links to a Tatame article that reports rumors of a possible Strikeforce 8-man heavyweight tournament to encompass the better part of next year. Now, if I get on a table and dance about the exciting possible match ups, nobody will buy it, and if I bash the substance of the tournament (Josh Barnett is a three time steroid offender and shouldn’t even be sanctioned, which he currently isn’t, let alone included in such a venture), it’s completely expected. Rather, let’s focus on the picture above and remember last year when we went from MMAJunkie reporting that a middleweight tournament would take place October 9th in San Diego to Cung Le disavowing any possibility of participating and, ultimately, the blame being laid on the Texas AC for the tournament never happening. This thing was largely confirmed, and it still died a quiet death.
Now, this proposal is different – it would be a tournament bracket spread across several events, eliminating any conflict with athletic commissions that don’t allow fighters to compete more than once per event (which is a fantastic rule). However, I still have my doubts.
1. Strikeforce has non-exclusive contracts. They advertise them to fighters as less restrictive than Zuffa’s, and they certainly do have some advantages in that regard, but it is their very nature that all but cripples their ability to match-make down the road with any reliability.
2. Alistair has just won a K-1 World Grand Prix, which is an impressive accomplishment. He’s also fought for Strikeforce a total of twice in the last 37 months, taking a total of seven MMA fights with different organizations in the interim. The idea of him a) putting his title on the line in a GP, b) giving up the title after six months of inactivity after holding onto it for over 24, or c) being committed to a fight nine, ten months down the road boggles the mind.
3. Fedor Emelianenko’s hand has more pins in it than Hellraiser’s costume rack. Werdum is coming off of surgery, Barnett hasn’t fought for years (and is a big fat cheater), Arlovski is on an 0-3 streak including two brutal knockouts and Kharitonov, whom I love, has looked terrible lately. One injury to the top three seeds of this hypothetical would derail its significance considerably.
4. Fedor has renegotiated his contract after each of his two Strikeforce fights, and the current negotiations have contributed to the pale outlook for a return to CBS anytime soon. Who’s to say that he won’t do it again after the first and second rounds of this thing?
Look, I’d love for it to happen. The only thing worse than a rinky-dink organization having top talent is a rinky-dink organization having top talent and not putting them in the cage against each other. I’m not rooting against it. Until it happens, however, I’m not going to try to kick the football.