The Future of MMA May Depend on Strikeforce: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers

Ken FossAnalyst INovember 6, 2009

As melodramatic as that title seems to be, the upward momentum of MMA will be tested a mere 24 hours from now when Fedor Emelianenko will take to the cage for the first time and face Brett Rogers.

Fairly or not, this may be the last chance we get to push onto prime-time television as a continuing platform, rather than an overt flirtation. Something fans of the sport should take note of.

A failure to draw a big number tomorrow could have crippling ramifications across the sport as a whole.

If you're a UFC fan, ZUFFA would be able to point at these numbers and say "See, look at what this two-bit organization did on CBS. ... Think about what I could do if you'd give me the deal I want."

They've been in talks with a “mystery network” for some time now, and a big number from Strikeforce could be just the ticket to jump start, and finalize, those talks. A poor number from this card could further ice the feet of presidents who are still on the fence.

Across an ocean, businessmen, who's faith in the sport has been rocked, could look at these numbers and further embrace the Unified Rules of MMA as its ticket to restart the kakutougi boom.

Failure may further tell FEG that DREAM isn't a viable company leading to a potential closure or contraction.

Smaller promotions like Bellator, who struggled to find live cable television opportunities, may find it an easier road to hoe if this does well.

Failure, not so much.

While EliteXC did some good for MMA, it's collapse damaged CBS' aspirations of what MMA could do for its network.

At the time, CBS was the oldest trending network, and EliteXC was the sort of “edgy” programming needed to bring back the 18- to 34-year-old demographic it had lost.

Now, however, the match is not so perfect with shows like CSI, Two and A Half Men, NCIS, and Ghost Whisperer. It established itself with the core programming necessary to draw the eyeballs of most demographics.

CBS doesn't need MMA like it once did. They can go back to the “human cockfighting” stance of the past at any point.

This is simply a case of a network trying to make use of a bad contract it still has on the books and it's our jobs as fans to convince them, and everybody else, that the sport can pull numbers in line with a regular season baseball or basketball game.

This is the sort of time when fans have to unite. Set bias aside and support the sport as a whole rather than an organization of choice. This is the empirical data presidents of major television networks have been waiting for.

And it could be imperative that we put our best foot forward. Not just for Strikeforce, or the UFC, or anybody else. But for all of us that don't want to pay 60 bucks a show on pay-per-view.