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Going Down Without a Fight: Mayhem’s Departure Makes It Clear Zuffa has No Long Term Plans for Strikeforce

(Jake, you be Strikeforce. Jason, you be the UFC. Now, show us how the next few months will go … / Photo via Sherdog)

It’s been three days since Jason “Mayhem” Miller’s sudden jump to the UFC and we still haven’t heard anything substantive on the topic from Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker or anyone else in the lame duck MMA company. A week ago Coker went on a popular MMA “radio” show and danced around the issue of Miller’s future in Strikeforce. He said the promotion was talking to Mayhem’s management about a fight this summer. No mention of the fact Miller was twisting in the breeze without a contract. No mention that the UFC might stick its beak in. Used to be, it felt like a waste of time to ask Coker questions because it was hard to get a straight answer out of the guy. Now it feels like it’s a waste of time because he may no longer even know what’s going on inside his own company.

For all his talk about his ongoing commitment to “growing Strikeforce and making it work,” it’s pretty clear that Coker (and maybe Strikeforce itself) has become the metaphorical equivalent of a WWE referee. He’s just a dude standing the middle of the ring in an official-looking outfit, desperately pleading for order while the battle rages heedlessly around him. No one is listening. No one is even pretending he has any power anymore. That’s sad, because Coker seems like one of the sport’s legitimate good guys, but the quiet loss of Miller last week is maybe the most compelling evidence yet that it’s only a matter of time before that phone call from Vegas comes in, informing the Strikeforce staff that the charade is over.

And you know what? Maybe that’s for the best. Let the professionals handle this shit. In any further discussion of what the loss of Mayhem “means” to Strikeforce, it must be noted that more than any other fighter he serves a good example of the many ways Coker and Co. fumbled around and fucked this thing up.

Despite the fact Miller was always one of Strikeforce’s best known and most marketable personalities, we always got the impression Coker never really knew what to do with him. From late 2009 until last Friday, Miller fought just twice under the Strikeforce banner. He lost a middleweight title fight to Jake Shields in his promotional debut in Nov., ’09 and then defeated Tim Stout via first-round TKO five months later at the ill-fated Nashville show that ended with the Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu team gang stomping him in the middle of the cage.

Since then, nothing. Granted, there was the matter of a suspension in Tennessee gumming up the works, but there is otherwise no real excuse for Strikeforce keeping Mayhem inactive for the last 370 days — that dull period punctuated only by his squash-match victory over Kazushi Sakuraba in Dream.

There was talk Miller might rematch with Tim Kennedy (the two have history). Didn’t happen. There was talk Miller might rematch current champ Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (the two have history). Didn’t happen. There was a whole, whole, whole lot of talk that Miller might fight Nick Diaz (the two made history together when Strikeforce aired their wild in-ring brawl live on national television). Didn’t happen. In fact, nothing happened. Now that we think about it, the extent to which Miller was passed over and essentially ignored in Strikeforce is sort of inexcusable. Especially for a company that so desperately needs stars.

With that in mind, you can’t blame Miller for opting to go with the UFC, a promotion that took all of ONE DAY to find him a fight with Aaron Simpson at UFC 132, when Strikeforce had seemingly been hemming a hawing for months. If the last few days have proved anything, it’s that Strikeforce didn’t deserve to keep Miller on its roster.

By welcoming him with open arms, just as it has said all along it would do with Strikeforce fighters whose contracts expire, the UFC is clearly sending a message: It doesn’t care about “growing Stikeforce.” If it did, it wouldn’t be embarking on the process of cherry-picking its biggest stars one at time. For Strikeforce over the next few months, it’ll be death by attrition. We know it. You know it. The UFC knows it. The fact that Scott Coker has nothing to say on the topic means he knows it too.

Cagepotato Comments

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Palmtreeguy- April 26, 2011 at 6:40 am
Why does CP keep making this out to be the UFC's fault. Ever think that Scott Coker is just that bad of a promoter? Ever think that it was HIS decision to not sign Mayhem? I think this is just another notch in the dipshit belt of how SF had been run since the get go !!! Its clear that even before Zuffa purchased SF, that the organization was leaving fighters high and dry, even the ones under contract, sat dormant for months and months. To me, Zuffa has not done anything but run the UFC the same way it normally would .. and they are just sitting back for a while to see how bad things are with Mr. Coker and SF before they finally pull the plug or perform a huge SF makeover.
NorthSouthDudesOnly- April 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm
"I see Dana trying to set up non televised events"

Get Off Me- April 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm
Dana has said all along that the UFC needs more fights.
Not Strikeforce, WEC or Pride. The UFC needs more fights.
I believe the UFC will create their own challengers league, but if will be branded UFC nonetheless.
The B league theory is strong, but the B league will not be called Strikeforce.
With all the pro wrestling comparisons brought up in the past, the only true legitimate comparison with UFC and WWE is that the UFC mirrors wrestling in the early 80's today. Like Vince McMahon, Dana is buying up the competition and effectively cornering the marketplace in North America with hopes of going global.
I see Dana trying to set up non televised events, weekly fight shows etc..basically have the UFC coming to a town near you philosophy.
radiobaby- April 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm
Mayhem has been trying to get a fight in Strikeforce for over a year. Theres like 20 other guys that are constantly bitching in interviews that they cant make money in strikeforce because theyre fighting once a year, that coker's people don't return calls, and they're promised fights that never materialize. This is a GOOD thing. Lots of top talen on the shelf in SF that might actually get to make a living now.
Canadia- April 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm
At least UFC will finally be able to some good Mayhem fights. Oh and who else remembers Mayhem petitioning to be a TUF coach? Seems more and more likely that it'll be Bisping/Mayhem or something similar.

Plus I have faith the UFC will book the Shields/Mayhem rematch. What happens in Shields gets pummeled? Well he's going to have to take this rematch if he still wants to get $$$$$$$ paid. Dana will shove you in a corner and start boot stomping.

And honestly, who really cares if Strikeforce sticks around? yeah it's free tv but they were trying to step into the PPV game and it doesn't have enough exposure in my parts to be seen on the local bars, so fuck strikeforce. if Showtime wants to deal ball, they'll have to deal with Dana and it's about time. CBS, Showtime and that whole umbrella must be greedy motherfuckers to not want to deal with Zuffa. Viacom or whatever has treated MMA like a fad and a quick cash grab taking advantage of promotions that are dying to reach an upper echelon.

Zuffa plays ball but only if it's on a level playing field, that's the way i've read all the notes
Shifty-Eyed Dog- April 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm
Strikeforce will not cease to exist like WEC. As contracts expire, the UFC is going to cherry-pick the best fighters that deserve to move up to the big leagues.
Strikeforce will continue to operate as sort of the minor league of MMA. Uknown and developing fighters will improve and show what they've got there, and the best will get the call to move up.

Mark my words.
ArmFarmer- April 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm

You do realize that every time zuffa buys an organization they say that it's going to continue running "business as usual", then a few months later the organization no longer exists and all of it's top fighters are in the ufc? Pride? WEC? Ring a bell? It's no secret...
ccman- April 25, 2011 at 11:58 am
Miller is completely marketable and they knew that. they also knew he is not a marketable champion because he has an appropriuate nickname. Thug? ok (209 wazzup peeps?!?) but outrageous? not for bland ole Coker.

So since his beef was with Sheilds (gone but even before did not want a rematch, since miller almost sub'ed him and he couldn't actually control. I actually scored for miller) and Diaz (will only fight cans outside 170, and even after Daley where he did actually impress me a little, not a lot since takedowns were never a threat.) and Cokers worst dream was to lose another Gracie pupil, letting him go and avoid booking him and having to pay him prolly made sense.

eithr way we (by we i mean you) can whine away, SF was on the ropes and were blessed with the buy out. We have run the numbers on here more than enough times to know they were not making money. Had too many inflated contracts and could not market a snow suit in siberia.
ExpectJesusBro- April 25, 2011 at 11:44 am
@ Mr. Smith...
Isn't Strikeforce already a B-league??
ExpectJesusBro- April 25, 2011 at 11:34 am
agentsmith- April 25, 2011 at 11:16 am
I'd say it's perhaps still too early to declare deadpool on Strikeforce. It's no surprise that Mayhem left, and he's certainly not the first guy to leave SF due to inactivity and poor promotion... he's just the first one to land in the UFC since the purchase. And even if the UFC does cherry-pick all the top guys, that doesn't necessarily mean they won't keep Strikeforce around as a B-league.
Seaman Honor-Chin- April 25, 2011 at 11:15 am
Scott Coker, remembering his first meeting with White, tells us how the conversation went: "Dana," I says, "Have you got hemorrhoids?"

"Fuck no!" was his emphatic reply.

So I says to him, I says "At last I've met the perfect asshole."
agentsmith- April 25, 2011 at 11:09 am
See also: Gegard Mousasi, JZ Cavalcante, Cris Santos, Sarah Kaufman, etc.
Strife- April 25, 2011 at 11:05 am
@noizy that was almost a haiku
qnzunos- April 25, 2011 at 11:03 am
i remember an article right here here on cagepotato naming a number of fighters that should be signed by the ufc when their current contracts are up. Miller was one of the fighter named. Now that it has happened it suddenly means strikeforce is in the shitter and the ufc is going to shut it down by signing one if strikeforce's biggest names? You are a fucking idiot for thinking that it seems like you have nothing else to write about so you try and come up with a compelling story to catch readers attention......stick to writing about best looking women in mma or completely pointless stories about backyard fighters turned mma fighters who wear sagging basketball shorts and boxers into the cage
Dubya- April 25, 2011 at 10:55 am
Chicken shit into chicken salad.
noizy- April 25, 2011 at 10:51 am
Business as usual indeed; draining other promotions talent pool until they wither and die. Business as usual indeed.
skeletor- April 25, 2011 at 10:47 am
Good fight. I would like to see Mayhem against allot of UFC MW's. Leben, Bisping, Belcher, Marquart, Grove, Miller. These are all good fights for him. Not to mention a Sonnen V Miller match would be one of the most epic buildups to a fight in the history of the sport, and possibly the most interesting season of TUF ever.
KarmaAteMyCat- April 25, 2011 at 10:41 am
War Simpson.
munche- April 25, 2011 at 10:32 am
This pretty much is proof that it's "business as usual".

Mayhem was one of the many fighters Strikeforce was neglecting and not booking like they should, and like Jake Shields and Jay Heiron before him, he left and signed somewhere else.

The difference would have been if UFC somehow stepped in on behalf of Strikeforce to help them figure it out. Instead, they let them do what they do (fail) and then picked up a marketable fighter.
LOKI- April 25, 2011 at 10:31 am
Bussiness as usual.