With MMA back on network TV there were some pluses and minuses to the event. For every positive scored by the Strikeforce/CBS team there were also a few negatives that may need to be fixed for their next network television broadcast.
Positives are scored with knockouts, while negatives are viewed as tapouts.
Knockout: The main event lived up to the hype. Despite not walking through Brett Rogers (with both hands tied behind his back), Fedor Emelianenko’s looping one punch KO delivered an explanation point ending to MMA’s return to network television. To the casual observer a back and forth fight makes for a more compelling view than a one sided Fedor domination.
Tapout: Overall the pacing of the show left something to be desired. The Strikeforce and CBS production team have to figure out a way to fit four televised fights into a two hour programming window.
The show ended going over the allotted time by an entire 24 minutes, with the Fedor vs. Rogers main event not starting until about three minutes prior to the show’s scheduled ending time of either 10 or 11PM (depending on which part of the country you watched from).
MMA, DVR, and Tivo fans that were not able to watch the show live were out of luck if there TV’s stopped recording exactly after two hours.
Also, you cannot forget that local CBS affiliates across the US love their nightly news and were not too happy about having to delay the start or join their Saturday night news all already in progress.
Knockout: From the packed live crowd to the millions watching at home, MMA on network television is good for the growing sport.
On television the crowd looked full and made the event look like a “big time” prizefight. Chicago is a great sport’s town and it was nice to see the local fans coming out in support of MMA, even with a Chicago Bulls game already scheduled on the same day.
Preliminary rating numbers are projecting the show as a success in the eyes of CBS network executives. With more detailed numbers to follow later in the week early projections have the Fedor vs. Rogers card at about 3.79 million viewers. Which is below both of Elite XC’s Kimbo Slice headlined cards which came in at 4.85 in May 2008 and 4.56 million in October 2008.
The early 3.79 million numbers do not take into account the heavyweight main event due to the overrun time of the program. CBS and Strikeforce can also chalk up wins in two key television demographics. Men 18-24 and men 18-34 years of age tuned into CBS Saturday Night Fights more than any other Saturday night program, including ABC’s weekly prime-time college football showcase.
Tapout: Four fighters woke up Sunday morning scratching their head. An under-card bout between local fighters Mark Miller and Deray Davis was canceled for undisclosed reasons as both men were set to make their walk to the cage.
According to various on-site media reports Miller and Davis were informed their fight was being pushed back until after the main event so that Strikeforce could insure that the Marloes Coenen vs. Roxanne Modafferi was finished prior to the CBS telecast.
Following the Fedor vs. Rogers bout the Miller-Davis was officially canceled by Strikeforce officials. For Miller and Davis this is a tough pill to swallow after putting in a full training camp for your opponent, securing sponsors, and getting amped to compete in the cage.
Strikeforce did end up paying each man’s show money, but it should be noted that many sponsorship payouts depend on whether the fighter actually fights in the cage or not. Losing sponsorship money is something many up and coming MMA athletes cannot afford to do.
ULTMMA , also confirmed in a email with Mark Miller's management at www.KOreps.com that he cannot charge Miller’s sponsors because he did not actually fight and Strikeforce still charged Miller with a “corner man fee” despite Miller not competing in the cage.
To a lesser extent Marloes Coenen and Roxanne Modafferi also got the short end of the stick. Marketed as CBS’s swing bout in case and any of the four advertised fights ended early, the Coenen vs. Modafferi fight ended in a mere 65 seconds with Coenen securing the fight ending arm-bar submission.
In a fight Strikeforce match makers claimed would determine the number one contender for Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos 145 pound title, and with that many free eyeballs on your product Strikeforce has to find a way to better showcase future fights in its promotion. Strikeforce and CBS should have found a two minute window to squeeze the Coenen vs. Modafferi fight on air.