For those fans interested in the long term future of Strikeforce after Zuffa took over the company back in March the events of the last few months will make for bleak reading.
Despite UFC president Dana White’s now infamous claim that it was “business as usual” the cracks quickly started to appear. Firstly the majority of the promotion’s background staff were let go, with CEO Scott Coker essentially being the only major survivor.
Then came the first major move in terms of the actual fighting roster as Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz, one of the promotion’s biggest stars, was drafted over to the UFC to battle Georges St.Pierre, a title fight that will take place later this year.
In the last few weeks things have ramped up further. First up Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, an integral component of the promotion’s flagship heavyweight grand-prix was pulled from the tournament due to a dispute over the timing of his next fight and then unceremoniously dumped from the roster entirely as a feud with his management team ‘Golden Glory’ picked up steam.
An apparent lack of regard for preserving the precious few stars the promotion has continued today when it emerged that due to the continuing bad blood between Zuffa and Golden Glory, Marloes Coenen, who up until a defeat on Saturday night was Strikeforce’s reigning 135lb champion and one of female MMA’s biggest stars was also cut along with Valentijn Overeem.
Meanwhile rumors prior to Saturday night’s blockbuster main event between Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko suggested that the loser would also be sent packing from the promotion.
So far there’s no official word on that, but there’s no doubt that Fedor’s future hangs in the balance after his loss, while Henderson’s contract is now up and it’s far from certain that he will remain with Strikeforce despite the fact that he is their current light-heavyweight champion.
While it’s easy to spot the negatives since Zuffa took over it’s far harder to pinpoint the positives. Generally all the fighters seem to agree that behind-the-scenes things now run smoother under their influence, so that’s one plus point. T
here’s also plenty of talk about how Strikeforce now has access to a much bigger marketing machine and it does have the benefit of having it’s shows promoted by the UFC as well, but so far that doesn’t seem to have resulted in a tangible boost at the ticket office and the highest TV ratings on Showtime still comes from the last event prior to Zuffa’s takeover.
All in all it’s turning out to be a very messy situation and given that there’s so far been no major moves to bring in big name fighters to replace those who have left, leaving them short on star-power, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how they intend to keep Strikeforce moving forward in the longer term.
Instead all signs suggest they are simply counting down the clock on Strikeforce’s current deal with Showtime before dismantling it completely.