Did you know Zuffa is actually holding two events this weekend? No, I’m not referring to UFC 139 and the show’s related weigh-ins a day earlier, though in all honesty I suspect the crowd there will be as rowdy as the one in Las Vegas Friday night for Strikeforce Challengers 20.
By the stunned look on your faces I’ll assume you weren’t aware of the show’s existence. Don’t feel bad. Based on the lack of promotion involved I’m not even sure Strikeforce knows about the lineup.
From November 7 to November 14, out of more than fifty Tweets from Strikeforce’s account there were only three mentioning the organization’s November 18 offering. In fairness, there were a handful of others referring to some of the lineup’s talent but without any sort of tagline to indicate their presence on a show this week. Then again, that’s like opening a fast food joint, Tweeting that cheeseburgers are delicious, and then expecting people to show up at the Grand Opening.
The number of original articles on Strikeforce’s website in that same period? One, with another five linked from other outlets apparently doing a better job covering the event than the people actually running it. Number of press releases? Zero. Conference calls? Zero.
If Strikeforce itself cannot view their own events as being important how can they expect fans to do so in return? The reality is there are plenty of marketable aspects to Strikeforce Challengers 20 – Antwain Britt is debuting at middleweight, beautiful, unbeaten Olympic Judoka Ronda Rousey is fighting Julia Budd to determine a future contender for Cristiane Santos, undefeated prospects Matt Ricehouse and Derek Brunson in action – and yet for whatever reason the organization can’t be bothered to push things on the public. As such it is no wonder the last few Strikeforce Challengers shows brought in five-figure gates and involved a significant percentage of their tickets being given away rather than built any sustainable excitement about the brand or the talent.
The true shame is not related to Strikeforce’s deteriorating profile or underwhelming sales but rather the effect it has on the fighters who risk their well-being for the sake of our entertainment; athletes who benefit from exposure based on the increased sponsorship opportunities. A guy like Brunson could easily be 9-0 with eight finishing performances including three wins in Strikeforce after this weekend, yet instead of having the buzz of a future force to reckon with at middleweight he’s still a guy most folks couldn’t pick out of a photo lineup. The fighters deserve better, as do all us rabid MMA enthusiasts.
Here is my open challenge to the Strikeforce Challengers Series. If you turn 21, either give your next show the treatment it deserves or turn things over to me for a week and I will do in my spare time what the organization has failed to do period by drumming up some interest in a solid show. If I cannot exceed the effort presently being shown towards selling Strikeforce Challengers I will stop covering MMA as a whole. My confidence lies in that, barring a coma, there is absolutely no way an interested person could do less than the PR team has this go-round and even in a vegetative state I’d give myself 2:1 odds of success.
What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!