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Scott Coker Explains Lopsided Nature of Strikeforce Tournament Bracket


(According to a clause in his new contract, Fedor gets to play with half the Batman Legos set now and the other half when he shows up for the semis. PicProps: Showtime)

There’s just something about brackets, man. The human male would probably tune in to a tiddlywinks tournament if it could be neatly arranged in the elegant efficiency of a single elimination bracket. Nothing else allows us to channel our inner fanboy or bring out the modern jackass in our personalities quite like it. Once a year, the mythical lure of the bracket even makes college basketball seem interesting; it’s that powerful. Now, draw up a bracket populated by 265-pound behemoths who are charged with beating the dogshit out of each other until only one is left standing? Well, let’s just say you’ve got our attention.

Suffice it to say that upon poring over the proposed pairings for the 2011 Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix this week, it didn’t take long for the keen bracketologists in the MMA community to notice that the left-hand side of that badboy seemed a bit, um, stacked, while the right side appeared to be Josh Barnett and three other dudes. With Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem all on the same side of the tournament draw, eyebrows were raised in a collective: WTF? Werdum said he thought it was meant to sell pay-per-views. Overeem said he thought it was weird, but wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it. Barnett hasn’t said shit yet, but we assume he’ll take it. Now, the speculation can (sort of) end as company CEO Scott Coker explains to MMA Fighting.com exactly why Strikeforce overstocked one side of the bracket with all its top talent. It turns out not even the promotion itself believed it could engineer the desired Overeem vs. Fedor final, so it fudged things a little bit.


"Very rarely in a tournament does it ever work out where the last two guys are the guys everyone wants to see fight," Coker told Ariel Helwani during The MMA Hour. "So I said to my guys, ‘What about this scenario: Let them fight in the semifinals … whoever wins moves forward.’ … Let’s say Fedor does get past ‘Bigfoot’ and then Alistair wins his fight (against Werdum), then we’re guaranteed to see a big fight."

Hmmm, maybe. As long as you’re using the loosest possible definition of the word “guaranteed.” Strikeforce is “guaranteed” Overeem vs. Fedor in the semis as long as Fedor doesn’t shatter his right hand on Bigfoot Silva’s enormous jaw or Overeem doesn’t swan dive into a Werdum submission. OR so long as Overeem doesn’t get wind of some kind of rinky-dink kickboxing tournament in Fiji that he’d rather fight in this June. OR if M-1 Global doesn’t hold Fedor for ransom after the first round of the tournament. Not that those Crazy Russians would use the added bargaining power of an ongoing, high-publicized grand prix to try to get the upper hand in a negotiation …

Even Coker indicated that he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in keeping this thing together. But you know what he’s relying on to keep all these notoriously fickle and disinterested dudes duly interested? Brackets, man. The power of brackets.

"You’re dealing with eight managers, from eight different camps, wanting eight different things," Coker said. "But in the end, everybody wanted to fight in the tournament and they said, ‘Sign me up.’ From Fedor to Alistair to, you know, Andrei (Arlovski). They all wanted to be in the tournament, because in the old days, let’s say, in Pride the tournament was very, very popular. I think this is kind of a throwback to that era."

Who knows, maybe it will all work out. As we’ve established, there is nothing like a bracket to make people stay the course. No matter what happens however, Strikeforce might want to slow its roll a little bit with the Pride comparisons. Let’s get through the first round here, Coker, and then see where we’re at in the history books.

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ccman- January 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm
Ubereem is the by product of taking a mediocre dutch kick boxer, a pharmacy, and slaughtering the kentucky derby for cheeseburgers to give strikeforce an absentee champion. Also known as the duckin dutchman, he is the reason this tourn. is on so:
a. they can make him run as much a gauntlet as possible trying to get the belt off him before he bails on them.
b. seems to be the only way they can actually make him defend said belt. He actually earned his nickname.

M-1 will go 'mexican in a car crash 'que?!?" no hable' if Fedor does make it past silva (snicker) in re-negotiations the second Coker trys showing them the 4 fight deal he signed.

Werdum will be given the wrong location for his fight with Overeem, and be standing in a concert hall by himself wondering what happened to the weigh ins thereby forfeiting. Hence 'guaranteed' fight.

Barnett will be arrested for raiding Ubereems stash but blame diet pepsi.. damn new generation. He will piss hot but it will be deemed inconclusive when he grabs his 'B' sample and chugs it before it can be verified. Coker will spend a ton covering this up.

Silva will be lynched when The villagers overcome their fear of the monster after he is seen walking holding a little girls hand while stroking a dead mouse.

Arlovski will be knocked out when they slam the cage door to hard from the shock wave.

Kharitonov will be killed by a shadow govt in an MIA video. born free my ass.

Brett Rogers will pull out when SAMs refuses to give him any more vacation time off. People need tires people!
rpn452- January 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm
Douchey has it right. If you step back and ignore that it's being called a tournament, the match-ups make a lot of sense. It's basically a title fight, an elimination fight for the next contender, and a secondary tournament. Overeem is the champ. Werdum is the number one contender. They need to fight for the title. Bigfoot and Fedor are next in line and need to fight for the next title shot. In the background, there's another tournament going on between guys who don't currently deserve to fight the top four guys, but the winner will be coming off back-to-back wins off solid competition and thus be justified in receiving a title shot. I like the match-ups. I don't want to see the top guys fight lower-tier competition just for the sake of a tournament layout.
Lysol- January 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm
Allow me to fix something for you:

"Very rarely in a tournament does it ever work out where the last two guys are the guys everyone wants to see fight," Scott Coker said, because saying "Let me justify King Mo vs. Mike Kyle as a heavyweight title fight in 2013 now so I don't have to when everyone else gets hurt, holds out for more money or leaves for the UFC." would be too straightforward.
MediocreThreat- January 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm
Who is Ubereem?
winklepicker- January 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm
Propers to the author for correct use of the word "poring." That is all.
Douchey McDoucherton- January 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm
would it kill Coker to make sense for once?....how hard is it to say Overeem-Werdum is the obvious match, Fedor-Silva is #1 contender's match, and the other side is just fighting for the next contender's spot since none of them have won a relevant match recently.
El Guapo- January 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Horsemeat vs Horseshoe Up His Ass is gonna be a good fight.

Seems like everybody's sleeping on Werdum, which brings up my point that fight fans have the shortest attention span on planet Earth. What was I saying again? Oh, right. Seems like just yesterday Fedor was mauling Horseshoe Up His Ass en route to a first round stoppage due to strikes when he pulled out the horseshoe he has stuck up his ass and choked Fedor out with it. C-c-crazy
Lysol- January 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm
Strikeforce is “guaranteed” Overeem vs. Fedor in the semis the way that fight was "guaranteed" to happen two years ago.
RearNakedSpoon- January 11, 2011 at 11:47 am
Sorry to disappoint you guys but its clearly going to be Fedor and Ubereem in the semi's but M1 will try to stop the fight from happening. Unfortunately for them the fight will go ahead but 0.001 seconds into round 1 a towel will be thrown in from Fedor's side giving Ubereem a free pass into the finals.

Meanwhile Barnett will emerge from the "shitty" side to get into the finals and beat Ubereem who took a dive thereby getting free from his contract. Not long after the dust has settled Barnett is shown to piss hot for everything under the sun.

Fedor and Ubereem go to fight in Japan for multiple organisations because the UFC won't let them fight outside the organisation but they never get matched up and Strikeforce goes out of business which gets blamed on Barnett who has to resort to getting licensed on the international space station as he can't get one on earth.


You heard it here first!
alicks- January 11, 2011 at 11:39 am
Man, you guys are totally not helping LEGO protect their brand. Those kind Danes even said please!
Dan The Viking- January 11, 2011 at 11:21 am
Fedor vs Kharitonov for the final. Fooorr suuuuurree.

/b/oxxy is back!!!!11
shatterproof- January 11, 2011 at 11:18 am
Pride didn't work out so well for Pride, Mr. Coker.
El Famous Burrito- January 11, 2011 at 11:07 am
Hey I hear you, it's funny to me to, hey it's strange to me too but we're talking about brackets man, we're not even talking about the fight, when it actually matters, we're talking about brackets.
goneinsixtyseconds- January 11, 2011 at 10:59 am
@ mahlbawlz: Don't u think they would wanna build the fight up first? Who would watch the tournament if the biggest fight already went down?
Art Gibs- January 11, 2011 at 10:58 am
"Not that those Crazy Russians would use the added bargaining power of an ongoing, high-publicized grand prix to try to get the upper hand in a negotiation …"

I think you hit the nail on the head, here. Good God, M-1 will be able to hold this entire thing up for an even bigger payout. If they're facing the prospect of fighting Overeem on PPV and they know Coker NEEDS Fedor to fight, they're going to rape Strikeforce. I mean RAPE them. And Coker will probably have no choice but to agree to whatever demands they make. That's why Coker should've said, "Fuck off," to those Russians long ago. Let them go to Dream, get paid less, and come crawling back. And that's also why I'm hoping Fedor loses in the first round. Not because I don't want to see him fight Overeem -- I really want to see that fight -- but because I know if Fedor wins he may take this whole tournament down.
Onan- January 11, 2011 at 10:57 am
7 paragraphs to give us about 10 sentences of Scott Coker "explaining"?

Verbosity is not a lost art here huh?

I'm just waiting for that Silva v. Kharitonov final!
goneinsixtyseconds- January 11, 2011 at 10:56 am
I can't f*****g wait for this to go down! Overeem, The heavyweight king of the world (sorry Cain)!
mahlbawlz- January 11, 2011 at 10:52 am
so coker wanted to ensure overeem vs fedor. maybe i'm wrong, but what I think is that matching them up in the first round would be the best way to due that.

fedor is coming off of a loss, so it'd be like matching the first seed up with a lower seed. makes sense.

if overeem won, then his fights in the tourney are for the championship belt as well. if he lost, he could have said, "eh, we'll worry about that later".
RwilsonR- January 11, 2011 at 10:47 am
I like how Coker says how bracketing tournaments rarely ends up with semi-finals and finals that are what people expected to see from the beginning, and then in his explanation of his bracketing he goes on to assume a 'guaranteed' best case scenario for his semi-final fight with Overeem fighting Fedor. Yeah, Scott, well what if it turns out that it ends up with Bigfoot fighting Werdum? How does that better explain your bracketing? What if the finals are Bigfoot vs. Kharitanov? None of his explanation actually explains his bracketing, except that he is hoping to create the "finals" fights earlier in the brackets. That is fine, but that isn't much of a tournament. That is simply having title fights, and having challengers fight each other to be the next in line for a title fight.
RSparrow- January 11, 2011 at 10:44 am
I'm really sorry Potato Nation, but someone, whoever has some time...

Can you post what the bracket looks like? I have yet to see this thing.
Negativecreep0- January 11, 2011 at 10:34 am
When your powers combine...... I AM CAPTAIN PLANET!
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