(“Strikeforce is the best….Sorry, I just can’t say it with a straight face.”)
Now that UFC’s parent company, Zuffa LLC has bought Strikeforce nuggets like *the buying price for Strikeforce was $40-million* and *Pro Elite was one of the frontrunners for taking over the San Jose-based organization before DW and the Fertittas swooped in and bought Scott Coker’s baby*.
One of the more interesting behind the scenes tidbits today comes from an interview Tatame did with Fabricio Werdum regarding Zuffa’s latest belt notch. Werdum reveals that following his June 26, 2010 upset win over Fedor Emelianenko, he received a call from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to see if and when he was available to negotiate. Vai Cavalo was inexplicably dropped by Silva following a KO loss at UFC 90 in October 2008 to up-and-comer Junior dos Santos. In his two bouts prior, the Sylvio Behring BJJ black belt defeated Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera by TKO
(“…on the bright side, me and Vadim were offered high-paying jobs as ‘consultants.’ So don’t worry about us, guys, we’ll be fine.”)
Saturday’s announcement that Zuffa purchased Strikeforce represented such a monumental shift in the MMA landscape that it was hard to process all at once. There are so many ways that this thing could play out, it’s almost useless to speculate about what might happen. Then again, what else are we going to do? Here are the possible effects that the Strikeforce buyout will (maybe) produce in the coming months, years, and decades…
Strikeforce will go the way of the WEC
When Zuffa bought the WEC in December 2006, they also vowed to keep “business as usual.” And for four years, they did; the WEC existed as a separate entity, and their consistently entertaining cards and smaller fighters were beloved by MMA fans. Eventually, Zuffa decided that the WEC had gone as far as it could as a promotion, and absorbed their featherweight and bantamweight divisions. A similar arc is highly likely for Strikeforce. Zuffa will keep the promotion running for a while because fans appreciate its fighters and entertainment-based matchmaking, but when Strikeforce’s contracts with its fighters and Showtime run out, the UFC will cherry-pick the best talent for its own roster and disband the operation.
The UFC will become the only brand in MMA
50 years from now, MMA fans will think of Strikeforce and PRIDE the same way we think of the ABA for basketball or the AFL for football — temporary competitors to the major leagues that had to be swallowed up for the sport to enter its unified, modern period. Some fans and fighters seem to be nervous about what a “monopoly” might mean for MMA. And maybe for good reason. If you’re a fighter like Josh Barnett or Paul Daley who’s on a permanent UFC blacklist, your career options just took a hit, especially with the Japanese MMA scene taking its dying breaths. Plus, the UFC’s revenue model is pay-per-view driven, which makes the comparison to basketball and football an imperfect one, especially in terms of how fans consume the sport. But in the long run, a single major-league promotion might be the best arrangement — the UFC as the NFL/NBA of MMA, with smaller regional promotions standing in for the collegiate system that those other leagues rely on. (Hell, maybe there will even be a full-fledged annual UFC draft at some point.) By comparison, boxing’s decline can be blamed in large part on the glut of competing promoters and sanctioning bodies. There’s reason to be optimistic here.
Sometimes an MMA fight is so close — or controversial — that matching the fighters up again a few months later is the only logical option. In honor of the upcoming immediate rematches between Leonard Garcia and Nam Phan (at UFC Fight Night 24 on March 26th), and Edgar vs. Maynard 3 at UFC 130, we decided to round up our favorite “do-over” fights of all time…
6. STEPHAN BONNAR vs. KRZYSZTOF SOSZYNSKI UFC 116, 7/3/10 Why it was necessary: A clash of heads during their first fight at UFC 110 opened up a nasty gash on Bonnar’s forehead; the referee didn’t see the illegal impact, and awarded a TKO victory to Soszynski due to cuts. Furious at taking his third-straight loss in such an unjust manner, Bonnar filed a formal appeal with the Combat Sports Authority of New South Wales. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears, but the UFC hooked Bonnar up (as they often do) by giving him an immediate rematch with K-Sos on the blockbuster “Lesnar vs. Carwin” card. What happened: Bonnar/Soszynski 2 turned out to be a meat-and-potatoes brawl reminiscent of Bonnar’s first war with Forrest Griffin. The American Psycho and the Polish Experiment both appeared to gas out by the middle of the second round, but Bonnar was able to keep throwing and landing until he overwhelmed K-Sos with strikes at the 3:08 mark. The fight netted both men $75,000 Fight of the Night bonuses, and produced one of the greatest victory poses in UFC history.
(No ice cream and vodka makes Fedor an angry stone-faced killer. Poor Hendo.)
For years MMA fans and analysts have hypothesized about what would happen if Fedor Emelianenko moved down a weight class to light heavyweight. Most salivated at the proposition of how much more dominant the once thought invincible Russian would be if he laid off the ice cream and vodka and moved down to fight at his more natural weight. Although the six-foot-tall, 230-pound fighter did quite well against much bigger opponents, he really wasn’t doing himself any favors by fighting giants with considerable height and weight advantages.
From Fedor Emelianenko to Dwayne Lewis, gruesome eye injuries are so hot right now in MMA. So we thought we’d make them the subject of our latest photo tribute. Because it’s all fun and games until…you know. Lots more after the jump.
(“OK Shane, now make vacant, dead-eyed love to the camera … beautiful …” Pic: DwightMcCann.com)
Remember the clamor of self-righteous public outcry that sprang up a couple weeks ago – mostly from the vigilant moral watchdogs who write for this website – when it seemed like Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was already angling to get Fedor Emelianenko back in his company’s heavyweight tournament mere moments after his loss to Antonito “Bigfoot” Silva via aura-shattering doctor stoppage? What about all those so-called alternate bouts, we shrieked, voices cracking. What about 10-1 Chad Griggs and poor, overlooked Valentijn Overeem? What about Shane del Rosario, who we thought clearly put himself in the pole position with his slick submission on Lavar Johnson during the closing minute of the first round? We were fucking outraged. Oh, the hypocrisy!
As Japanese MMA seems to slowly dwindle away from the glory days of the sport, hardcore fans like myself shed a tear for our great loss. It wasn’t just knowing those obscure 135-pounders whose names had syllables our gaijin tongues could barely pronounce, or the fact that it was the land where stomping and soccer-kicking a human being in the face was perfected into a sweet science. More than that, it was the stars that were produced that we came to know and love, whether they were fighting someone on their level or tearing open a tomato can — and that is where this list begins.
Blatant mismatches aside, JMMA gave us so many beautiful fights with men like Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko “Crocop” Filipovic (go tell your favorite TUF noob that his last name is not Crocop and relish in their confusion), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Ikuhisa Minowa and Kazushi Sakuraba. For every epic bout that went into the history books for their unbelievable drama, we had other fights that we remember for less than pleasant reasons. Yes, the freak show fights! What would a JMMA event be without a match worthy of a 1930′s carnival? The big question here was how do I rank something that is mediocre to begin with? Well, I’m as clueless as you are, so let’s get started on this journey down “Freak Show Lane,” across the street from “What Were They Thinking? Boulevard”…
10. Daiju Takase vs. Emmanuel Yarbrough
Pride 3, 6/24/98
This was the first freak show fight in Pride history, and earns a place on this list for that merit alone. It pit 169 lb. Daiju Takase against 600 lb. Emmanuel Yarbrough, who most fans will recall was clobbered into submission by Keith Hackney and his broken hand at UFC 3 (Yarbrough has no luck in any event associated with the number three). The sumo plodded around the ring tossing his hamhock arms at Takase, while the smaller Japanese fighter fled and slowly wore down Yarbrough.
Takase makes the mistake of going for a lazy single leg on Yarbrough, which results in the large fighter flopping onto his belly and absorbing Takase into his flesh. As Stephen Quadros lamented, “This is horrible! This is like “Jaws!” Eventually, Takase slid out from the greasy underside of Manny, and in an ending eerily similiar to his UFC 3 fight, Takase went to town with clubbing hands to his exhausted opponent’s face, leading to a tapout in the middle of the second round.
(Before you criticize Torres for fighting smart against Banuelos, take a moment to refer back to that picture where you can see his freaking skull, would you please? PicProps: ESPN)
Remember back in 2004, when Nelly and Tim McGraw recorded that terrible duet and then made a video utilizing the magic of split-screen technology to show us that – while they might look and sound very different – they were actually leading surprisingly similar parallel lives? Man, if only we could do the same thing with Miguel Torres and Fedor Emelianenko right now. This situation practically screams for a buddy comedy: One is a wise-cracking former bantamweight champion from Chicago who tweets like a madman and lives life in the fast lane. The other is a stoic Russian former heavyweight champion who prefers the quiet surroundings of Stary Oskol over the city and likely considers the internet a form of witchcraft. Oh brother, these two will never get along, right? Wrong.
Torres and Emelianenko are actually more alike than you might think, as Torres himself points out to MMA Fighting.com this week. Both guys were once the undisputed kings of their respective weight classes, but in recent times both have been cast into adversity by a pair of high profile defeats. It just so happens that Torres is a little bit further along the path to redemption than Emelanenko is, so he has some friendly professional advice for his unlikely spirit brother. Oh, also it kind of sounds like he’s totally pissed about the recent (unwarranted) criticism of his (winning) performance in his UFC debut. It’s all after the jump.