(Meh. / Photo via Strikeforce)
I get it; we’re all a little burned out right now. With two UFC events over the last six days and a Strikeforce event scheduled for tomorrow night in Portland, you might be thinking, well, maybe I can sit this one out and come back strong for Rousey vs. Kaufman. Over-saturation must be the culprit, because there’s no other explanation for why a card with two title fights — featuring the always-thrilling Luke Rockhold and the return of Nate Marquardt — should be completely ignored by fans and media alike. You want to talk about lack of heat? Wikipedia hasn’t even bothered to create a page for this event. That is cold, brother.
Unfortunately, the fighters have to compete whether you guys care or not. And they know you don’t care. And that really sucks for them. Strikeforce held a press conference yesterday to promote the Rockhold vs. Kennedy card, in which the headliners answered questions from “two reporters in four rows of chairs,” according to this thoroughly depressing account by Steven Marrocco of MMA Junkie.
“I just came from Vegas, where they had 2,000 people at the weigh-in,” said Tyron Woodley, who will be fighting Marquardt for the vacant Strikeforce welterweight title. “I think it’s a disrespect to Strikeforce. It should be advertised a little bit more.” Marrocco points out that the UFC 148 weigh-in attendance was closer to 8,000 if you want to split hairs.
Tim Kennedy, as you can imagine, was even less courteous in his assessment:
“Take a picture. There’s not a single goddamn reporter here. There’s four of you guys. This is two title fights for Strikeforce. It’s crystal clear that nobody gives a [expletive]. They don’t. I knock Rockhold out on Saturday night? Changes nothing for me. Nothing in, like, what media publications are going to cover me, who talks about me, sponsors I’m going to get. Do you know how much money I didn’t make in sponsors for this fight because nobody cares about Strikeforce? It’s insane.
“I’m fighting one of the best fighters on the planet. Not top 10 — like top five. I’m very confident that both Luke and I would clean house all the way to the top one or two guys in the UFC that could finally give us a fight, and nobody cares. It doesn’t make any sense. Just the ignorance of the sport and the athletes, there’s no way we can change that unless you let us fight other guys outside of the organization, and that’s just not going to happen.”
No, it’s not, at least for the foreseeable future. The current contract between Zuffa and Showtime to broadcast Strikeforce events runs through 2014, which means that at least some of Strikeforce’s fighters will be forced to toil away on this promotional ghost-ship indefinitely. For fighters like Kennedy and Rockhold — who are dying for more exposure and the chance to prove that they rank among the best middleweights in the world — it must feel like a prison sentence. Sure, there’s always the possibility down the road that the UFC will poach the guys who continue to win, but Strikeforce isn’t exactly a priority for Dana White these days.
If it matters, we’ll be liveblogging Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy tomorrow night starting at 10 p.m. ET. Come by and say what’s up. It’s literally the least you could do.