CBS is back in the mixed martial arts game, and this time with a more stable organization, Strikeforce. The early numbers are in for their first showing of Saturday Night Fights and it looks like they did alright with 3.79 million average viewers. Not quite the number that Kimbo Slice did, but come on, no one can out do a legend of the sport like Kimbo, haha.
If you watched the event you might have noticed that they put together a pretty respectable card. Obviously Fedor makes any event shine. But guys like Jake Shields and Gegard Mousasi are very accomplished in the MMA world as well. Now I won't try and make the argument that Strikeforce has as much talent as the UFC, but they may be closer than you think.
The heavyweight divisions in both organizations are pretty close in overall talent. Fedor, Overeem, Werdum, and even Brett Rogers would all do damage in a weak UFC heavyweight division.
Mousasi is a top 5 light heavyweight in the world. Guys like Babalu Sobral, and Kevin Randleman bring excitement and name recognition to the division. King Mo Lawal may be the next big thing like a Jon Jones or Ryan Bader of the UFC.
The middleweight division is stacked with talent. Jake Sheilds would be a title contender in the UFC welterweight division. Robbie Lawler, Nick Diaz, Matt Lindland all bring UFC experience to the table. Cung Le is like watching a Jackie Chan movie and very entertaining.
The welterweights have some UFC vets as well in Jay Heiron and Joe Riggs. But the guy that could really turn heads is Marius Zaromskis. He was dominant in Dream and always exiciting and I'm sure a dream to have for Strikeforce.
Not going to go into the lightweights because I don't really care to watch them so I don't know a whole lot about the great lightweight fighters. Are there any? Just kidding I know there are many, just not my thing.
The UFC has the quantity but it only holds some of the quality. Strikeforce is no minor leagues. He might not admit it but Dana White would love to have a handful of these guys right now. Does anyone want to see a Fedor vs. Lesnar fight? It won't happen unless Strikeforce is at equals with the UFC.
Another interesting thing is that mma videogame by Electronic Arts. EA supposedly turned down a UFC game a few years ago. Now they finally want one because of the popularity rise in mma. So they are basically getting every great fighter not in the UFC (meaning Strikeforce fighters). If this game is done right and is a huge success, people will start to get to know these fighters and Strikeforce could maybe get to the level that Pride was at or more.
Now maybe the UFC has to start thinking about co-promoting. Two big time fight organizations that co-promote with each other would be as good as it gets. It would be champion versus champion all the time, kind of like when the AFL joined the NFL and created some game called the Superbowl. Pretty popular I think.
We have a long way to go, but getting the casual fan to dig a little deeper and appreciate the great fighters not associated with the UFC will be the biggest hurdle. CBS and EA may be the help needed. Strikeforce is nothing like Elite XC, they know how to run a business. The formula and timing could be right.