Scott Coker, among numerous others, has stated that the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix is the greatest assembly of heavyweights there has ever been. Whether he is or isn’t right, is this tournament a symbol of Strikeforce’s place as a world-class MMA organization, or is it a last gasp of another Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor that doesn’t have long to live?
The UFC for various reasons doesn’t do tournaments anymore. If they did, they could put on a comparable heavyweight offering. It would be debatable if such a tournament would have the same quality of talent as Strikeforce’s Grand Prix. What is not so debatable, however, is that the UFC could then do such a high-quality tournament for every single weight class. No serious MMA analyst could say Strikeforce could do the same.
For the sake of the argument, here would be potential UFC tournament participants with a comparable depth of talent in their weight class to what Strikeforce is offering with the Heavyweight Grand Prix:
Heavyweight: Cain Velasquez, Brock Lesnar, Junior dos Santos, Shane Carwin, Frank Mir, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, Roy Nelson
Light Heavyweight: Mauricio Rua, Rashad Evans, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Jon Jones, Forrest Griffin, Thiago Silva, Ryan Bader
Middleweight: Anderson Silva, Yushin Okami, Nathan Marquardt, Demian Maia, Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva
Welterweight: George St. Pierre, Jon Fitch, Jake Shields, Thiago Alves, Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann, Carlos Condit, Chris Lytle
Lightweight: Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, Jim Miller, Kenny Florian, George Sotiropoulos, Anthony Pettis, BJ Penn, Sean Sherk
Featherweight: Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Manny Gamburyan, Diego Nunes, Dustin Poirier, Mark Hominick, Michihiro Omigawa, Josh Grispi
Bantamweight: Dominick Cruz, Brian Bowles, Joseph Benavidez, Scott Jorgensen, Miguel Torres, Urijah Faber, Brad Pickett, Demetrious Johnson
Now attempt to do the same for Strikeforce. Good luck.
This would seem to be a signal that despite Strikeforce assembling a very impressive heavyweight tournament, they are not even close to the level of talent overall that a global organization like the UFC can muster. And with the UFC’s growth accelerating, Strikeforce may be swimming against a tide much too strong to overcome.
And even with their strong stable of heavyweights, where does Strikeforce go with the division after this tournament? Currently, any of these fighters could have been competitors for Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem’s title. Now when it is over there will be a champion who will have no need to fight any of the tournament participants. He will have either beaten them or his victim will have.
They are all essentially losers at that point. Of course, Strikeforce hasn’t been above letting losers fight for their titles before, but that doesn’t exactly help their case. With this heavyweight tournament, they are eliminating year's worth of good title match-ups.
Strikeforce is on top of the world right now with their Heavyweight Grand Prix, but it seems like a fireworks finale for a holiday that is almost over.
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