Like a fighter refusing to go down in the midst of a severe beatdown, Strikeforce took another blow yesterday with the departure of longtime executive Ken Hershman at Showtime and is still standing, albeit with knees knocking on wobbled legs. With dipping ratings, departing champions, the derailing of Fedor Emelianenko’s career, and a decision coming soon on their future at the cable network without their biggest proponent in play, it’s time for the proverbial referee to step in and end things.
What benefit can there possibly be from insulting the public’s intelligence by pretending things are going fine? Are fans supposed to ignore Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, and Alistair Overeem abandoning their Strikeforce belts to fight as contenders in the UFC? Should we pretend Dana White hasn’t made it clear he plans to bring lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez to the Octagon in the very near future?
Let Strikeforce have one final hurrah and then pull the plug. The December 17 event even makes sense with two title-fights already in place as well as K.J. Noons fighting Billy Evangelista, and Gegard Mousasi mixing it up with Ovince St. Preux. Find a way to put Muhammed Lawal on the card, possibly against Keith Jardine who is rumored for the lineup, then stack the undercard and let 2012 mark a fresh start for MMA.
As far as the female fighters go, the UFC should simply have occasional one-offs until deeper divisions emerge while also considering an all-women version of the Ultimate Fighter to help speed the process up (at least in terms of establishing a few potential stars). It’s not like Strikeforce has been promoting the hell out of women’s MMA anyways. Sarah Kaufman and Miesha Tate have each only fought a single time in Strikeforce this year and neither is rumored for the December show. Marloes Coenen was cut and hasn’t been re-signed while Cris Santos and Gina Carano haven’t seen action in more than a year.
Consider Strikeforce a phoenix ready to combust, then imagine a better UFC rising from the ashes – one with every elite Mixed Martial Artist on the planet minus a handful they can focus on sniping when contracts come up; one where virtually any fight a person has dreamed of can be made.
Call it a mercy killing if you must but Strikeforce is a sick dog that needs to be taken out behind the shed and put out of its misery. There’s no shame in doing so nor is there any to be found in shedding a tear for the good times you’ll miss. Hard, often heart-breaking, decisions must be made in life and when it comes to Strikeforce the time to end things is now. Allowing the company to continue in its crippled state dishonors the fighters and fans, while leveling with them is a sign of respect even if the message is not an overly positive one. Do what’s right for them, Zuffa. Do what’s right for the sport.
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