This week Strikeforce officially announced that they will be returning to CBS for another free-to-air event on April 17th. The main card so far features three title fights, with Dan Henderson Vs Jake Shields serving as the headline bout.
Now an interesting rumor (which originated on the UG board) is beginning to circulate that the UFC may put on a free ‘Fight Night’ event live on Spike to counter the event.
It would be easy to meet this with a great deal of skepticism if it wasn’t for the fact that Fanhouse and UFC Magazine writer Mike Chiappetta hadn’t gone to the trouble of texting Dana White about it, and was given the response of, “Maybe :D”
The original post on the UG suggests that Wanderlei Silva Vs Yoshihiro Akiyama could potentially be the headline bout for the card. Having said that Chiappetta earlier noted that it is likely that Silva is hoping to fight on July 3rd.
The story is still a little fuzzy around the edges at this stage, but if it turns out to be true then it’s certainly a highly significant turn of events, and one that could add to the growing list of problems currently faced by Strikeforce.
They are already without their flagship star Fedor Emelianenko for their return to CBS after M-1 Global decided they were unhappy with the terms of the Russian’s contract with the promotion. That leaves them with Henderson Vs Shields which is a solid main event, but not an obvious ratings blockbuster.
Meanwhile, having three title fights on the card (the others being Mousasi Vs Lawal and Aoki Vs Melendez) has left concerns over whether there will be enough time for a fourth fight, which could rule out the possibility of adding another known fighter to the card such as a Herschel Walker or Bobby Lashley, who could help boost their ratings.
If they have to go head-to-head with the UFC on top of all this then it may be a challenge for the promotion to match their previous ratings on CBS, which were seen as reasonable rather than remarkable at the time.
Of course CBS has a far wider audience that the UFC will be able to call upon on Spike TV, but the Zuffa promotion does hold a magnetic attraction with the coveted 18-45 age bracket which is highly sought after by advertisers, and is a large part of the reason for CBS’s interest in airing MMA in the first place.
If the UFC can draw a significant portion of those viewers away from the network television offering then that may be enough to give CBS pause for thought about continuing their arrangement with Strikeforce in the future.
So far this all sounds pretty good for the bigwigs at Zuffa HQ right? Perhaps, but Scott Coker and CBS may still have a trick or two up their sleeves.
For instance, Sports Illustrated reporter Josh Gross has just posted on twitter that Strikeforce may still have the option to move their event to the 24th of April.
That would put them head-to-head with the WEC’s first attempt at a Pay Per View event instead, a battle that would undoubtedly have the upper-hand in.
So both sides still have some big decisions to make, and that means it’s going to be very interesting indeed to see how this all unfolds in the coming weeks!