Rumors are currently sweeping through MMA circles that the Strikeforce organization may be about to fold.
On yesterday’s episode of AXS TV show ‘Inside MMA’ those rumors were given credence with reporter Kenny Rice stated that they had “heard from multiple sources that the relationship between Strikeforce and Showtime may be coming to an end.
“We are being told that the November 3rd event is in serious jeopardy, and there’s a strong possibility that Showtime will no longer broadcast Strikeforce events.”
It follows news that yet another fighter, Sara McMann, has pulled out of the promotion’s show in November, joining headliner Frank Mir and co-main event middleweight champion Luke Rockhold who have already bailed out due to injuries.
Essentially that means that the November 3rd card has now been decimated, and with less than four weeks until fight night remaining the promotion would have a tough time putting together worthy replacements, especially given the limited roster they currently operate with.
Of course they could cancel the event, but given that they already pulled the plug on their September show due to injuries it would leave them in the farcical situation of having no events for the final four months of the year, and only four shows for 2012 as a whole, compared to 15 (including the Strikeforce ‘Challengers’ series) in 2011.
If the promotion is to be disbanded then it’s not before time. Essentially Strikeforce has had one foot in the grave since Zuffa first bought the company early in 2011.
The heart of the company was removed only months later when the UFC began to acquire some of it’s best fighters like Nick Diaz, Alistair Overeem and Dan Henderson – all champions when they left the organization – and with the announcement that the heavyweight division was to be dismantled.
Eventually Showtime made an agreement to stop fighters from jumping ship and surprisingly agreed to re-up their TV deal with Strikeforce for a further year in 2012 with an option for one more after that.
It was a bold move, but ultimately one that appears to have failed with too few stars left to make meaningful fights and many fans now seeing the promotion as damaged goods, resulting in dwindling interest and low attendances.
With the recent injury problems only further lowering the standard of the product it would appear that Showtime’s patience is being sorely tested, and if they decide to call it quits on their TV deal then that would unquestionably bring about the demise of the organization.
Strikeforce’s passing may well prove to be a major boost for the sport however.
The likes of lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and middleweight title holder Luke Rockhold deserve to be fighting the top level competition that the UFC provides, while it could also be a pivotal moment for woman’s MMA with Dana White having already indicated that if the opportunity came up that he’d sign female superstar Ronda Rousey.
With the UFC also currently struggling with an injury epidemic an influx of other talent like Nate Marquardt, Tim Kennedy, Robbie Lawler, Gegard Mousasi and Roger Gracieto name but a few would also be welcomed.
Of course Bellator, who are set to move to Spike TV in January and would become the undisputed second biggest MMA promotion in the land if Strikeforce go out of existence, would also be interested in some of these fighters as well, so either way they would get put to good use.
It should be stressed that for now this is all just onconfirmed rumor and speculation. As yet Zuffa have made no official statement on the matter, but now more than ever there’s a real sense that the axe is finally about to fall.