(This belt means as much as the one Carlos Condit is carrying around. It’s funny how that works.)
By Jason Moles
In what comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone with a double-digit I.Q. or higher, Strikeforce will reportedly put the final nail in the coffin after their next event, which is currently scheduled for January 2013. Like any good friend, we tried to talk them out of their appointment with Dr. Kevorkian. Sadly, our friend just could not be reasoned with, leaving us no other options — we have to prepare for the funeral.
Here at CagePotato HQ (read: my desk at work when the boss is in the crapper), we feel it only necessary to start writing the eulogy now, while the memories are still vivid, in an attempt to bring comfort to the grieving family and friends when the time comes. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we, and look back fondly at the most memorable moments in Strikeforce’s storied mixed martial arts history.
Frank Shamrock Gets a Friendly Stockton Greeting From Nick Diaz
In the spring of 2009, Strikeforce served up a hot matchup between former UFC champion and MMA legend Frank Shamrock and the future Strikeforce Welterweight champion and world-renowned trash talker Nick Diaz. As you can glean from the above photo and the ensuing nut grab you can see on YouTube at roughly the 3:23 mark, these two were about as cordial as a Kentucky Derby winner who had just spotted Alistair Overeem waiting in the stable with a knife and fork.
The remarkable thing about the whole ordeal was that Diaz remained true to himself at the risk of coming across as a disrespectful punk, not willing to play nice simply to placate other people, even if they did sign his paycheck. In all of the press conferences that have been held over the years, fighters have generally been pretty calm and polite — so much so that you have to wonder if they realize that the guy they’re shaking hands with is the same guy who’s getting paid to cave his face in come fight night. Not the Stockton, Calif. native, though, who’s about as subtle as he is media friendly. You’ll never have to guess what the Cesar Gracie product is thinking. This classic photo by Esther Lin is a reminder of just that.
Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg, The Biggest Women’s Fight In History
Before Ronda Rousey stole Dana’s heart, before Bellator ever had a woman’s tournament, and before Invicta FC ever promoted an entire fight card with nothing but female combatants, there was Gina Carano. The world loved her after being introduced to her on the revamped American Gladiators as “Crush.” From there she went on to become one of the most searched for people of the year — being named in Maxim‘s Top 20 Hot List didn’t hurt either. To say that the future Hollywood starlet had a following is a bit of an understatement. The buxom brunette was more than just a pretty face though, sporting an impressive 7-0 record heading into the inaugural Strikeforce women’s featherweight championship fight against the
roid-fueled always-game Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.
I’m a firm believer that more people were interested in seeing Carano fight than they were in WMMA. That being said, it doesn’t change the facts. Scott Coker had big brass balls to promote an MMA event with two women’s names on the marquee and broadcast it on Showtime to boot. At the time, no one had any real sense of how successful the ladies would be at selling tickets or drawing the coveted 18-34 year-old television viewers. That’s how it is when you’re blazing a trail.
The fight was lopsided and with literally only a second to spare in the first round, “Cyborg” punched her way to a TKO victory earning her a place in Strikeforce history as the first women’s champ. According to the events Wikipedia page, Coker’s gamble paid off.
The event averaged 576,000 viewers on the Showtime cable network. It peaked with 856,000 viewers for the night’s main event between Carano and Santos. The Carano vs. Cyborg event set a new MMA ratings record for Showtime, eclipsing a card headlined with Kimbo Slice and Tank Abbot, which averaged 522,000 viewers. It also more than doubled Strikeforce’s previous offering, Lawler vs. Shields, an event that averaged 275,000 viewers.
Arguably the Greatest Round in MMA: Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley
Lately, when the UFC kicks off another abominable installment of The Ultimate Fighter, they host a special two-hour (or more!) season premiere wherein all the hopefuls are
cheered on as they drink donkey ejaculate paired off and given one five-minute round in the Octagon to prove their mettle. Sadly, most of the neanderthals that drag their knuckles up the cage steps aren’t particularity familiar with clocks or the concept of time.
Again and again, we see guys completely oblivious to the beating they’ve been dished out and are content to clean their plate. All the while Dana and Lorenzo are baffled that the kids don’t just go for broke, swing for the fences, something (anything!) instead of pulling guard or playing patty-cake. In short, the fights to enter the TUF house are the polar opposite of the championship bout between Nick Diaz and Paul “Semtex” Daley.
These two welterweight bad boys had no intentions of leaving the opening frame, let alone leaving it in the hands of the judges. Fists flew with ill ambition. Caution was not only thrown to the wind, it had a jetpack strapped to its back and shot out of a cannon. If you didn’t know any better, you might’ve thought they were told the loser of the bout would have to spend a year in jail with War Machine because neither man seemed to conserve energy for the “championship rounds” — instead opting to kick it into high gear when the tide shifted in their favor.
This one round is a casual fan converter. Have your buddy from work/gym/AA meetings watch this and soon you’ll only have to pay half price for the next PPV.
On the next page: “Business as usual,” the fall of a legend, and the fight after the fight…