After last night’s results Strikeforce may want to check that their HQ wasn’t built on an ancient Indian burial ground because it seems that there is some sort of curse preventing them from getting a break when it comes to their most marketable stars.
Cast your mind back to April when the promotion’s new big name (and big money) signing from the UFC, Dan Henderson flopped in his debut against Jake Shields. Insult was added to injury on that occasion when Shields then promptly packed his bags and left for a new deal with the UFC.
On the same night rising star Gegard Mousasi slumped to his first loss in 15 fights.
Just two months later they looked on in disbelief as the upset of the year occurred as their biggest star Fedor Emelianenko lost to Fabricio Werdum, ending a 10 year unbeaten run.
Fast forward another two months to last night’s Strikeforce: Houston event and the curse was lying in wait to strike again.
King Mo’s wrestling credentials, outspoken manner and extravagant entrances had marked him out as a star for the promotion who had caught the fans attention. A win over the highly regarded Mousasi to claim the Strikeforce light-heavyweight championship in April suggested Scott Coker and Co. did indeed have a star that could back up his words with actions, but a second round TKO loss sends them straight back to the drawing board.
Now they have Rafael Feijao installed as champion at 205lbs, a man who had only been given the opportunity to fight for the title when other more better known fighters like Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral turned down the fight.
Meanwhile, Bobby Lashley’s prior pro-wrestling career ensured that he brought a sizeable fan-base to the promotion from the word go. There has been criticism of both the fighter and strikeforce since then though, with many believing that they were playing it safe with the opponents they were pairing him up with.
That strategy came back to haunt them tonight when the unknown Chad Griggs, who had only fought once in the past two and a half years, exposed Lashley’s weaknesses and handed him his first pro loss.
It’s undoubtedly a body-blow for Strikeforce who must now look to pick up the pieces and move on as best they can.
They do still have options though. A fight with fellow pro-wrestling star Dave Batista now makes sense for Lashley as he looks to get back on track. Meanwhile Mousasi is a worthy opponent for the new king of the 205lb weight-class, Feijao.
Fedor also still has big fights with Overeem and Werdum in the offing if he signs a new deal, while Dan Henderson is moving back up to light-heavyweight to take on Babalu Sobral . Less certain is what should come next for King Mo. It may be that a step back to face someone like Sokoudjou or Antwain Britt may now be necessary before he can move forward again.
So the show must go on, and it will go on, but it will do so with much of the mystique surrounding many of it’s major stars now having evaporated.