Strikeforce's Talent Is Going To Be Hard To Ignore

Mike SContributor ISeptember 16, 2009

NEW YORK - JANUARY 20:  Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko, heavyweight mixed martial artist and current World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts heavyweight champion rings the NASDAQ opening bell at NASDAQ in Times Square on January 20, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)

With the competition as hot as ever between the UFC and its nearest challenger, Strikeforce, the importance of developing talent is at an all time high. The UFC has multiple options as far as developing young up and coming fighters.

The Ultimate Fighter, UFC Fight Night series, and even undercard slots on many of their numbered series events all contribute to slowly bringing a UFC prospect along.

Strikeforce, on the other hand, utilizes their Challenger series as its main source of showcasing future stars. On Sept. 25, at the Spirit Bank Events Center in Bixby, OK, Strikeforce will produce their third edition of the mildly successful Challenger series broadcast live on Showtime.

The headlining bout on the Sept. 25 show will feature two of the organization's top prospects. Tim Kennedy, a United States Armed Forces veteran, will be making his second start on a Challengers series fight card this year. He defeated Nick Thompson in June on the main card in the second Challengers event.

His opponent in a couple of weeks, undefeated 10-0 Zak Cummings, will be making his Strikeforce debut. He worked his way into the Strikeforce lineup by dominating small and mid-level regional shows such as, FM Productions, Midwest Cage Championships, and Xtreme Cagefighting Federation.

Be sure to look to Pro Fighting Fans for the Strikeforce Challengers 3 fight card & results after the fights become official.

With the accepted agreement between Strikeforce and Japan’s top MMA organization, DREAM, it opens up another opportunity for some European and Asian fighters to build their brand in America.

Gegard Mousasi is a good example of someone that has already benefited from this “pact” after given an opportunity to fight for the Strikeforce light-heavyweight title.

His stock has risen in America after dominating Renato “Babalu” Sobral in their title match on Aug. 15 at Strikeforce: Carano vs Cyborg. Another DREAM star hoping to ride the Strikeforce horse is Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

The Brazilian submission specialist signed with Strikeforce as the runner-up at the recent DREAM middleweight grand prix, losing to the aforementioned Mousasi in the finals.

Some of the Strikeforce talent was acquired in the February 2009 purchase of Pro Elite, a buyout that brought the Elite XC video library, fighters’ contracts, and the television agreement with Showtime. Brett Rogers, another undefeated prospect under Strikeforce control, will headline the next Strikeforce event against recent signee, Fedor Emelianenko.

Rogers has stopped all ten of his opponents, including former UFC heavyweight king, Andrei Arlovski in June. Gina Carano, the popular female fighter, was an indirect result from the Pro Elite buyout as well. “Conviction” is still considered “the face of women’s MMA,” despite her TKO loss against 145 pound Women’s Champion, Cris “Cyborg” Santos.

The veterans that are associated with Strikeforce are plenty. Nick Diaz, although sometimes controversial, is always entertaining and an excellent draw from a business point of view. Jake Shields, the best middleweight not signed to the UFC, is currently riding a 12-fight unbeaten streak, including his most recent bout as a headliner against Robbie Lawler.

Josh Thomson, Gilbert Melendez, Cung Le, Alistair Overeem, and Frank Shamrock all have value with the organization as well. Each of the five fighters has been or are currently “Champions” in the world of MMA.

Without a doubt, the No. 1 ranked fighter in any organization now calls Strikeforce his home. Russian brawler, Fedor Emelianenko spurred the UFC this summer to sign with the California-based Strikeforce, reportedly due to issues concerning a co-promotion agreement with his management team, M-1 Global.

Strikeforce should benefit from having Fedor on their roster, starting with his first appearance against rising star, Brett Rogers.

For good reason, the UFC gets most of the publicity and recognition for jump-starting the popularity of mixed martial arts in America; however, Strikeforce is loaded with pieces to contribute towards the continued growth of the sport. We have seen in the past what happens to organizations that try to go head-to-head with the UFC; it doesn’t end with positive results.

So, with some correct decision making and proper utilization of fighters that are associated with Strikeforce, there is no reason that both the UFC and Strikeforce can’t help in developing the growing number of talented mixed martial arts fighters that are rapidly multiplying in the world today.