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SF Challengers 12 Aftermath: In Which We’re Told Where We Can Stick Our Limited Understanding of the Unified Rules

(Our thoughts exactly, Waachiim. PicProps: Strikeforce)

Without question, the most memorable part of Friday night’s Strikeforce  Challengers 12 broadcast came not from the fights, but during an unexpected television appearance by Strikeforce rules director Cory Schafer. After the tepidly anticipated bout between Marius Zaromskis and Waachiim Spiritwolf was declared a no contest when Zaromskis opened the first round with a flying finger to Spiritwolf’s eyeball, Schafer didn’t just afford himself well during his 30 seconds on camera with Mauro Ranallo, he owned it. In fact, immediately following five minutes of the Strikeforce announce team bitching about how no one understands the rules of MMA, Schafer gave the impression that he’d been waiting his whole life to come on TV and tell us all – especially Mauro – off about it.  Also, Strikeforce has a rules director. Who knew?

“There still seems to be confusion in this sport,” Ranallo asked Schafer, after the play-by-play man had just been complaining long and loud about how Spiritwolf shouldn’t be given any time to recover from Zaromski’s eye-jab. “I’ve been around a long time … what is the ruling when it comes to an accidental eye poke? I’ve always been under the impression that you’re only allowed five minutes for a groin strike, a low blow. Everything else, if you can’t continue you have to tell the referee and the fight will then be judged.”

“Well, unfortunately you’re under the wrong impression …,” Schafer responded, with enough scorn in his voice that someone off camera (it sounded like Pat Miletich) exclaimed ‘oh!’ in seeming embarrassment for Ranallo. “The referee has the discretion to give the fighter up to five minutes to recover after any kind of accidental foul.”

“Now, is that in the rule book?” asked the still incredulous Ranallo.

“Absolutely it is,” Schafer said.

Schafer then launched into a spirited and well articulated defense of the rules, the Mississippi State Athletic Commission and the no contest ruling. It was the kind of authoritative and knowledgeable performance that made you wonder – not knowing anything at all about the man – why Cory Schafer isn’t running all of Strikeforce.

The eye poke incident itself also pointed out yet another reason why Strikeforce continues to do itself a disservice with these Challengers shows. It’s a shame, but three months from now nobody is going to remember that the rest of the fights on this card were pretty OK. Nobody is going to remember that Justin Wilcox out-struck Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro en route to a unanimous decision and then called out Lyle Beerbohm by saying, “If you want a fight, I’m your huckleberry.” Nobody is going to recall that Caros Fodor caught Derek Getzel in a nice darce choke, that Ovince St. Preux crafted an improbable upset victory over Antwain Britt or that Jan Finney finally got her second chance in the Strikeforce cage and lost again.

The only thing anyone is going to remember is that Zaromskis accidentally gouged Spiritwolf just a few seconds into their bout and then the entire broadcast almost clattered off the rails. Not to sound like a broken record, but it’s seriously unfathomable how the slightest sign of controversy or adversity sends the Strikeforce announce team into a complete tailspin. It’s especially mind-boggling considering that every Strikeforce show seems to invite so much disaster that you’d think they’d be used to it by now.

Nope. There they were last night: Allowing long, awkward stretches of TV time to drag by with dead air, while Spiritwolf paced back and forth in the cage screaming, “Fuck! Fuck!” The silence was broken only by Ranallo continuing to chase his weird hypothesis that the fight should be immediately declared a no contest, instead of giving Spiritwolf any time to recover. Granted, that’s what we all thought the rule was, but why insist on it and then get pissed when the ref is just trying to see if the fight can go on as scheduled? 

Somehow, as the least experienced member of the Strikeforce team, Miletich remains the most competent of the bunch. The former UFC champ spends the majority of each broadcast telling Ranallo and Stephen Quadros how wrong they are about everything and the rest of the show sounding like he’s stopping himself from telling them. Each time out, Miletich proves he’s the best color-commentator Strikeforce has and the fact that he keeps getting relegated to Challengers cards is just weird.

Midway through last night’s show I found myself wondering: Now that the WEC is going under, you think Strikeforce could land Todd Harris? A Zuffa-style,  two-man booth of Harris and Miletich would be a huge, huge improvement over what Strikeforce has going on now. Just saying.

Cagepotato Comments

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jnoodles6- November 23, 2010 at 9:15 am
You know the best part of about the STRIKEFORCE announce team? They kept referring to the UFC and it's fight cards/fighters...even my WIFE said, "why does that idiot keep talking about the UFC?" Ranallo's word choices are like proverbial nails on a chalk board!
JaredB- November 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm
You do know that Mauro Ranallo has been a professional wrestling commentator, right? He was the announcer for Stampede Wrestling out of Western Canada for awhile. He has even mentioned this on SF broadcasts. Not that I'm a fan of Mauro, just saying.

And spastic and annoying don't work in pro wrestling either. There's a reason the most respected commentators of all time in wrestling are Gordon Solie and helium voiced 1980s incarnation of Jim Ross. They lended authority and credibility to the proceedings, imperative to helping suspend disbelief in a worked sport.

People who don't know anything about wrestling and just talk about it are just as bad as the idiots who think MMA are fights to the death.

And sweater wearing commentator Bonnar is like Jason Segel's even weirder and more socially awkward older brother.
TheYert- November 22, 2010 at 7:04 am
I was at the event and dvr'ed the fight. What reallly struck me as odd was that after that whole eye poke debaucle was that they did not fill in that time with some prelims. Wes Shivers knocked out his opponent cold in the first round. Two other prelims ended in nice submissions. One of which was a d'arce, you don't see that ever day. I enjoyed the prelim fights more than the broadcasted fights. They were much more exciting!
RwilsonR- November 20, 2010 at 11:35 pm
Todd Harris knew what he was supposed to, and nothing more. Even for his occasional foul-ups and sometimes inadvertent favoritism, I still think Joe Rogan is the best out there. He knows what he is talking about, and you just can't fake (I'm looking at you, Mauro) his passion for the sport.
Hank Mardukis- November 20, 2010 at 7:25 pm
Oh Mauro, you silly little man, you are now officially as dumb a commentator as Gus Johnson and Frank Shamrock. This kind of stuff makes me appreciate Rogan and Goldie even more. Pat Miletich is good too.
FlashinLeather- November 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm
is there play by play tonight (UFC 123)?
SgT.SauceD- November 20, 2010 at 4:10 pm
If the ufc ran things like strikeforce does, vanderlei silva and georges st. pierre would be doing their commentary. Something tells me I'd rather try to understand either one of them instead of listen to ranallo's dumb ass. The sound of his pitch-man voice makes me want to stick a power drill in my ears.
stopdrinkingpee- November 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm
"It was the kind of authoritative and knowledgeable performance that made you wonder – not knowing anything at all about the man – why Cory Schafer isn’t running all of Strikeforce."

"A Zuffa-style, two-man booth of Harris and Miletich would be a huge, huge improvement over what Strikeforce has going on now. Just saying."

Preach it, CP.
RSparrow- November 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm
I can completely agree with knowing and fully understanding the unified rules in and out, especially if you're the voice behind the fight. No problem, 100% agreed.

There were a lot of people who didn't understand the eye poke instances, and whether or not the fighter should be allowed a break. Militech, an ex and possible current fighter didnt even fully understand what to do. Think about the Koscheck/Johnson fight etc...

Let's face it though, Ranallo definitely got put in his place, and the entire mma fanbase finally got a chance to fully understand the rules behind accidental fouls. The rules director was surprsingly sharp as hell (as he should be with a position like that). I'm not standing full-force behind the Strikeforce announcing team, they are second tier for a reason. The intellect is supposed to come from Militech. I just don't see how everyone can hate on the passion and effort of Ranallo. The motherfucker could make a hampster fight feel entertaining. It's strikeforce man, just another reason why UFC is better.
KarmaAteMyCat- November 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm
@ Rsparrow

The only big deal out of this entire situation is that every other announce team KNOWS THE RULES of an MMA fight. Considering most of the other broadcast teams aren't made up of two ex fighters and a hobo they found out behind a dumpster I find this repulsive and unacceptable that Pat himself didn't know how to answer the question of WHAT TO DO when someone is fouled in a situation like this.

That entire card was easily one of the worst MMA card I've seen broadcasted in forever. I cannot believe that showtime allows them to do this on their channel. I mean at least give this Broadcasting deal to a company that can run a half decent show. Lets be honest though I LOVE MMA I watch the good the bad and the even worse battle it out. However from a fighters perspective and a fans perspective this show was fucking terrible I mean where are all the people who Bitched and Moaned about the Germany Show?

Unified Rules are well known by most every fighter and should certainly be known by every announcer who works for a supposed Company that claims to be a factor in the MMA world. Sorry I can't let this slide. Not to mention I fell asleep on this card and when I wasn't falling asleep I was busy switching the TV to "Masters of The Universe" Do you have any IDEA how bad that movie is? though in comparison to the Showtime Strikeforce Challengers show it was nothing but an American Classic. Dolph Lungren made my night just a little bit better.
Shane Darwin- November 20, 2010 at 1:13 pm
Mauro Ranallo is the worst sports announcer I've ever heard. In any sport. Worse even than Bill Walton.
El Guapo- November 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm
BAHAHHAAHA The best part is how the the official just owns Mauro right off the bat. "I was under the impression..."

"Welllll, you would be under the wrong impression."

These eye pokes are getting ridiculous! I know it's part of the game, but damn. Soon enough it's gonna happen in bigtime fight and shit's gonna hit the (^PROVERBIAL)fan. Fools are gonna riot.
As Good As Anyone- November 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm
@ RSparrow

The proverbial landscape in the proverbial cage proverbializing proverbial provilation.

Anyone catch on to Mauro's favorite word?
RSparrow- November 20, 2010 at 12:03 pm
The article wasnt written about poor commentating. It was actually a pretty big deal if you watched the show...

To be honest, I enjoy Ranallo. His goofy ass adds a different dimension, and it's not UFC, its second in line, so its fun to have some sort of variety.

You should watch the Ariel Helwany - Ranallo interview. You'll get a good idea about his crazy past, and what he does for the sport. And ya, he WAS a wrestling announcer for awhile. Cut the guy some slack, who else is gonna talk about "touching Gina Carano with a 10 ft pole", and get away with it.

Get your buddies, pick up an 18 pack, or whatever you do and enjoy the fuck out of what seems to be a great night of mma.

Almost North- November 20, 2010 at 11:43 am

Thanks Mauro you huge piece of shit. You managed to distract me from your boring ass fights with your shrieking harpy devotion to the rules you don't even understand and redirect every ounce of hatred I posses towards you. Can't we get someone less horrible to do the announcing? Jack the Ripper? Hitler? Is Osama busy?
KarmaAteMyCat- November 20, 2010 at 11:40 am
The Graphic designed to tell me if I was suppose to watch this failed me terribly.
NinjaNerd8- November 20, 2010 at 11:33 am
At least not at the UFC/Pride/SF/Dream level anyway.
NinjaNerd8- November 20, 2010 at 11:33 am
This is retarded.

Who cares about the commentating enough to give a fuck about yet another shit on xyz CP article.

It's not like they're literally babbling throughout the fights and talking about something other than what they're looking at. The commentating is no worse than the UFC's because, to be honest, it doesn't matter enough to be rated.
Bards- November 20, 2010 at 11:15 am
Is there a vid of the mauro-schafer encounter?
maclaren- November 20, 2010 at 10:21 am
@MediumRare actually that's a very good idea. Ranallo would be a perfect commentator in the pro wrestling circuit.
As Good As Anyone- November 20, 2010 at 10:12 am
Todd Harris is probably the P4P best professional commentator in the sport. The best experienced MMA commentator HAS to go to Joe Rogan and, hate him or not, Frank Mir. Stephan Bonnar has a TERRIBLE voice for commentating as does Kenny Florian.

I would LOVE to see Todd Harris and Joe Rogan in UFC events.

Harris has the rare ability to fluidly speak without sounding like a jackass (Ahem, Goldberg, Renallo, undead Kevin Bacon).
Sodak- November 20, 2010 at 10:12 am
Wachim spiritsquirell.
MediumRare- November 20, 2010 at 10:02 am
Mauro Ranallo needs to get as far away from MMA as possible. His style is great for pro wrestling - that manic freak-the-fuck-out voice is perfect when you're watching a show where tanned body-builders pretend to fight.

MMA is a sport and is best served by commentary with intellect - albeit a bloodthirsty intellect. Pat Miletich is the single best thing that Strikeforce has going for it. They need to put him to better use.
entisgood- November 20, 2010 at 9:47 am
The good thing about the WEC/UFC merger is that we wont have to suffer though Stephen Bonner's commentary anymore. He may have some good things to say but his voice annoys me so much. He sounds like a fratboy/surfer who is holding their nostrils shut.
I want to hear Joe Rogan with Pat Miletich and Todd Harris.
just some dong- November 20, 2010 at 9:23 am
You know things are bad when you're hoping that Todd Harris takes over on commentary.