Strikeforce opens the 2010 year with a card that very much tries to fill in the gaps left from the organizations previous year of upheaval. Their oft-maligned Welterweight division will receive a champion. It's Women's 145lb division will continue it's slow process of assimilation and a couple of marketable entities make their Strikeforce debuts.
While this card is far from ground breaking, it could be highly influential one for gaining the sport exposure as a whole.
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” - Leo Tolstoy
This will likely begin a somewhat shaky year for Strikeforce, one of modest growth and tremendous learning.
As an organization it's very much the little brother who just got a box of old hand-me-downs that are two sizes too large. Most people will expect the moon and some will expect it in an equally speedy fashion.
While this will be the standard for fans, as they inevitable size them up against the UFC, MMA's 800lb guerrilla. The fact is however the only thing Strikeforce has to truly answer for this year is to ensure their place as the second best promotion on the planet. To do this they need to spur brand exposure and loyalty.
When fans speak of Pride Fighting Championships you'd think it was the holy grail of fight promoting even though this was the same organization that put on main events feature guy's like Shannon Ritch, and Bob Sapp.
By building it through the year, Strikeforce will fortify their long term future, something you can't necessarily do by grabbing the next top FA on the market.
Focus on putting on great fight cards, and keeping expectation in check. Everything else is ancillary.
Can Walker prove Trojan Horse into mainstream sports?
We all know the story of how the mythic 10 year war between Troy, and the Achaeans ends by now. And if Herschel Walker's appearance on shows like PTI, and the Jim Rome Radio Show are any indication of the kind of transcendence this man has, then MMA purists can bite the bullet on this one, as an 0-0 fighter will be airing versus a 2-1 journeymen in a promotion of this quality.
We've been looking for an ambassador for a long time, and a guy like Herschel is just the ticket this sport needs. When you or I wax rhapsodic about the visceral pageantry of fighting in a cage, people look at us like your an illustration of the deterioration of society at worst.
However when a 48-year-old Heisman Trophy winner says it, they'll listen and maybe just maybe, remember.
Bobby Lashley isn't “Next Big Thing” but that doesn't mean he can't be just a good thing.
For all those fans who laugh off the Lashley vs. Sims bout, I cry foul.
For starters Wes Sims is the only man to best Frank Mir on two separate occasions(he also doesn't let truth get in the way of a good story) and second, I look forward to him getting another fight. If for no other reason then to soak in his harebrained comedic genius.
For the rest of you, who are more interested in top fighters, Bobby Lashely is the kind of fighter that could develop into a good HW. He's got a solid wrestling base and some natural athleticism, to go along with some raw skills. We need to give him some time to smooth over his boxing and jiu-jitsu before judging the man, or did we learn nothing from UFC 81?
A test of dignity, for Robbie Lawler
Robbile Lawler has long been a good striker in the cage, but good may not cut it against Melvin Manhoef's dynamic striking attack. If he wants to win this fight and stay relevant at 185, he needs to take the Dutchmen to the floor as soon as possible.
It may not please the fans, but Manhoef has the grappling acumen akin to a corpse. Robbie Lawler could win this fight with minimal fuss and look fairly impressive, or he could walk into a lion's den.
It's his call.
The sleeper fight of the night.
Honestly this fight could go either way, in boom or bust fashion. While many will look at the way Cyborg took apart Hitomi Akano, and Shayna Braszler to justify picking an easy steamrolling. I'd simply like to point out she's a freakishly strong human being who was fighting those two coming up from 135 and 125lbs. So I'm really not sure those results can be 100 percent relied on.
Also to label Marloes Coenen a pure grappler would be entirely unfair, as she destroyed Roxie Modaferri in her last fight, with some brutal clinch work. She also had Erin Toughill on the ropes for part of that fight until she was knocked down and counted out.( Smackgirl, how I really don't miss you) Her chin is fairly fragile, but Cyborg's a volume striker, not a flash power puncher.
This makes an intriguing dichotomy of fight stratagem. On one hand she can clinch up rather easily with Cyborg as she comes in with her trademark “Hurricane of Aggression” but if Cyborg begins to win the fight standing she can pull guard. Dragging the Brazilian into the place she's most comfortable.
From there the fight gets truly fascinating as we'll see how much Santos has picked up from her Barcelona's medal winning performance. If she stays patent she'll positionally win the fight, however the Dutch Jiu-Jitsu Champion has some of MMA's nastiest leg and arm locks, and she's not afraid to go for submissions.
In all honesty, I have no idea how the fights going to play out... None, but that's really the beauty of it.
Up In Smoke?
Nick Diaz's return to the Strikeforce cage maybe a storyline all its own. However how he chooses to handle the euphoria of Marius Zaromskis on the feet is another topic all together. Diaz, an outstanding volume MMA striker, is also secretly a Cesar Gracie black belt. I however can't remember the last time he even attempted to take somebody down.
If he stands with the Lithuanian, Diaz is going to be walking into a hornet's nest, but ultimately could still win due to “Whitemare's” very questionable chin. Even still it would be tactically limiting of his strengths in the fight.
Let's hope sanity prevails for Mr. Diaz.
Strikeforce, and CBS' emphasis on television dependability could hurt Nick Diaz.
If Nick Diaz drops this fight, it would be very interesting to see what happens to the better half of the Diaz family. With Japan not interested and the UFC not any more sympathetic to his antics. It will be a story to watch how, or rather if Strikeforce and the rest of the MMA world moves forward with him.
A rematch with KJ Noons would be marketable considering the beef they have with each other, and the resolution to their first fight. After that though Diaz's usefulness to the company would dip tremendously.
He maybe in a world of hurt here if he's not careful.