(You know what? I still think Chad Griggs could have whipped all your asses.)
Strikeforce put out a press release today announcing their contract renewal with premium cable channel Showtime, which officially begins with the Rockhold vs. Jardine event on January 7th. Under the terms of the new agreement, Showtime will produce and televise up to eight live events, and will also begin broadcasting undercard fights on Showtime Extreme.
Said Dana White: “We’re excited about this renewal with Showtime and I expect to put on some big Strikeforce events next year. I never thought I would say this, but I am very much looking forward to building Strikeforce and working very closely with Showtime.”
According to the press release, the winner of the World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament (either Josh Barnett or Daniel Cormier) will compete again on Showtime under the Strikeforce banner in the months to follow. But after that, the reign of big men in Strikeforce will be history.
Scott Coker confirmed during a media call this afternoon that the heavyweight GP winner’s follow-up fight will be the last heavyweight match in Strikeforce. After that, the promotion will be focusing on lighter weight classes and the women’s divisions. Filling their championship vacancies at 170 and 205 will also be a priority: “When you think about the fights we’re having Saturday and in January, it’ll eventually lead to title fights in the weight classes,” Coker said. “We’ll put fights together and work toward titles in those divisions.”
Also on the chopping block? The Strikeforce Challengers series, which never made a whole lot of sense to us anyway — and would serve even less of a purpose if those lower-tier fighters can now be featured on prelim broadcasts of larger events. [Ed. note: We'll have Moles start working on an emotional farewell piece.]
Current Strikeforce fighters – including champions Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and Miesha Tate – will remain in Strikeforce, meaning that the UFC’s talent-poaching may come to an end. Gilbert Melendez is reportedly excited about that.
So, business not quite as usual — but if you’re Scott Coker, a downsized product is better than no product at all. Stay tuned…