MMA: Around the Cage, Vol.2: Strikeforce Fallout, Dana's Tweets, Rogan's Future

Joe Lanza@@JoeMLanzaCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2011

Strikeforce Grand Prix fallout, Joe Rogan can see the future, Dana White goes nuts on twitter, the death of UFC is greatly exaggerated, awesome and awesomely bad quotes and much more.

Let’s go Around The Cage, 2/14/11


The Crazy Russians Take Over New Jer-ski

I cannot confirm this, but according to my sources who attended the show, the unofficial world record for people wearing the eastern European staple windbreaker tracksuit/black dress sock/off-brand low-top tennis shoe combo was broken this past Saturday in New Jersey.

Russians flocked in from around the globe to see not only international MMA superstar Fedor Emelianenko, but also Sergei Kharitonov, a fighter with the charisma of an accountant from Hoboken.

I was shocked when Kharitonov, a relatively obscure fighter to casual fans, received the second-biggest ovation during the PRIDE-esque introduction ceremony, until the camera panned the crowd, which looked more like Leningrad than East Rutherford.

The show turned out to be a mixed bag for the Russian fans, as Kharitonov proved that 11 percent of MMA fans are lost and without a clue (more on that later) by easily dispatching the glass-jawed Andrei Arlovski via first-round KO.

Later, the stunned crowd watched as Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva physically manhandled Fedor and knocked him out of the tournament.

Silva, a 5-to-1 underdog on some wagering sites, may have ended the career of the legendary Fedor, who through his translator strongly hinted at retirement after the fight.

While not the ending the crowd wanted, the entire scene was surreal, and if this really was the end of the line for the greatest fighter of all time, unlike most athletes, he will be leaving very close to the top of his game.

It was hard not to come away with enormous respect for the humble orthodox Christian.

He survived a mammoth beating from an oversized, highly-skilled modern heavyweight, and may have managed to pull off the flash KO in Round 3 had his eye not grotesquely swelled shut and forced the doctor to (rightfully) stop the fight.

In the bigger picture, the loss exemplifies the need for more weight classes in the sport.

Modern weight cutting allows nearly 300-pound men like Bigfoot and Brock Lesnar to step into the cage with smaller fighters like Fedor and Randy Couture, who are outweighed by 60 or more pounds.

A weight class wedged between 205 and heavyweight (220 is the number being thrown around) would remove this edge.

Spreading speculation is that Fedor will cut to 205. I believe this is just wishful thinking from fans who don’t want to see him walk away. The modern game has finally caught up to Fedor, as he quickly approaches his mid-to-late 30s.

This combination does not bode well for a fighter who relies on his super fast hands and lighting reflexes as his main offensive weapons. He has nothing left to prove, and he seems to sense that this is his time. Who are we to disagree?


Dana Goes Nuts on Twitter

“M1 = M Done! What did I tell you, Vadummy!”

“wtf has (Fedor) done for the sport?! Ur F****n nuts”

Dana White went nuts on Twitter just minutes after the Fedor fight ended, enraging fans and being his usual over-the-top self.

White went on to claim that Strikeforce completely ruined Fedor’s career.

In terms of exposure and big money fights, there is no question that Fedor would have been better off in the UFC. But White would not budge from his stance of refusing to “co-promote” with M1 Global, who did manage to successfully extort Scott Coker in the guise of a co-promotion.

I don’t blame Coker for this. Had he refused to play ball with M1, Fedor would have either stayed on the sidelines, spent the last few years fighting in Japan, or he would have dropped M1 and made his own deal.

It would have ended up being with White, due to the UFC being able to offer bigger fights and better money. Coker had no choice. If he wanted Fedor, he had to deal with M1.

So instead of fighting Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez on pay-PPV, Fedor ended up taking on Brett Rogers, Fabricio Werdum, and Bigfoot Silva.

No disrespect to those Strikeforce fighters who would match up very well with the UFC fighters I mentioned, but in terms of business, there is no comparison as to which fights are bigger.

Coker tried furiously to put together his biggest potential fight, Fedor vs. Alistair Overeem, but M1 rebuffed the attempt.

The only winners here are M1. They received the exposure of having their logo slapped on every graphic of every show that Fedor participated on. They managed to strike a deal with Showtime. They took in an undisclosed cut on all of the “co-promoted” Strikeforce/M1 events.

Fedor’s loyalty to M1 hurt his career, hurt Strikeforce’s ability to make the best fights, and hurt the fans chances to see Fedor fight Couture, Lesnar, and Overeem.

To me, all of this talk of Fedor’s career and/or legacy being hurt is nonsense anyway. But if you fall into the group that believes otherwise, Strikeforce is not to blame. Fedor himself is to blame.


Strikeforce Quote of the Night

Josh Barnett, my pick to win the tournament, was asked if not having faced any of the other seven Grand Prix entrants is a disadvantage.

“No, it’s an advantage. You see, for everybody else I’ve already massacred, I’ve already got their skulls mounted on my throne. So now this just brings new blood to the table.”


Strikeforce WORST Quote of the Night

Moments later, Barnett’s opponent, Brett Rogers, was asked to share his thoughts on the tournament. He managed to supply this gem:

“Hey, you know what, we all, we all heavyweights in this tournament. We going, uh, go out there and bang and have fun, you know that’s what it’s all about.”


Strikeforce WORST Quote of the Night, Part II

Rogers again, this time when asked who he thought would win the upcoming Kharitonov/Arlovski fight:

“You know what (pause), uh, I want to say Karkov, but uh, it’s like this, uh, Arlovski needs to come out there and, uh, shock the, hey, (pause) three down? He’s gotta come win.”


11 Percent of MMA Fans Are Clueless

Results of the Strikeforce text poll, “Who will win the Grand Prix?”

Fedor, 45%; Overeem, 29%; Arlovski, 11%

Yes, the same Andrei Arlovski who ends up knocked out, dead behind the eyes, with his stiffened arms extended upward due to nerve reflex after nearly every fight these days.

And moments after the poll results were announced, Arlovski was again knocked out, dead behind the eyes, with his arms extended upward due to nerve reflex.

This begs the question of who these 11 percent were who voted for the weakest chin in MMA to survive three grueling fights with some of the hardest strikers in the sport.

I’ll tell you who they were, and the answer is good news for Strikeforce. Clearly, the Grand Prix garnered enough buzz to draw in the casual UFC fan, and casual UFC fan likely had no clue who the other seven men were.

Why wouldn’t they vote for the former UFC champion? The last time they saw Arlovski, he was winning fights.

The rest of the poll shook out like this: Barnett 4%; Werdum 4%; Rogers 2%; Kharitonov 2%.

Sadly, "Karkov" received no votes.


Joe Rogan Can See the Future

Check out this question posed to Joe Rogan on his website message board on March 31, 2003:

“I got a question for the guys who know the ufc fight game. If Brock Lesnar trained hard for a couple of years, do you think anyone out there could beat him in nhb fighting?”

Rogan’s response:

“The guy is a huge f*** monster, but I'm guessing he has zero striking skills.

That's the really hard s*** to learn.

If he faces a guy his size that really knows how to strike (like Jerome LeBanner if he ever gets into MMA) and that guy can avoid being taken down, or can tire Lesnar out so that he can be an easy target, then he's f***d.

But, if he seriously dedicated himself to it, within a few years, he would definitely be a threat to anyone. He's a big, bad dude.

As long as he was handled and trained properly and not rushed to the top, he would have a serious chance.

You'll never see it, though. there's just not enough money in the UFC right now.”

Give Rogan credit, he nailed Lesnar right on the head, almost five years before Lesnar’s first fight.

Zero striking skills, susceptible to strikers and he did in fact end up being rushed to the top. And as soon as the money was right a few years later, Lesnar took up fighting.


The Impending Demise of the UFC Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

A common theme around MMA message boards these days is how the UFC has finally hit the plateau and the inevitable crash and burn is just around the corner. Let’s check some facts.

UFC PPV buys and revenue, 2009: $7.75 million, $345 million.

UFC PPV buys and revenue, 2010: $9.145 million, $411 million.

That makes six consecutive years of PPV growth.

Look at that slide!

How about the supposed drop in TV ratings?

While true to some extent (in particular the UFC on Versus shows, which have underperformed), the recent prelims for UFC 126 set the ratings record for a UFC prelim show with a 1.24 rating and an estimated two million viewers.

Dana White convincing Brock Lesnar to do The Ultimate Fighter is expected to draw record ratings as well.

How about attendance?

UFC 129 in Toronto just sold out 55,000 tickets in record time, which will produce a gate expected to double the previous record of $5.44 million for UFC 100 (Lesnar vs. Frank Mir).

This will be the largest gate in Rogers Center history, and they could have easily sold more tickets if not for the UFC directive of cutting off the seating at 55,000 due to concerns about sightlines to the cage.

Sorry, but I’m failing to see this supposed decline in business.


Coming and Going

Jorge Santiago, recently let go by Sengoku, has signed with UFC and will face Brian Stann in his first fight back with the company.

Kenny Robertson, who lost his UFC debut at UFC 126, has been cut. Robertson is 10-1.

Ferrid Kheder (18-5) has signed with Bellator and will compete in the upcoming lightweight tournament.

Lloyd “Cupcake” Woodard (10-0), another hot lightweight prospect, has also signed with Bellator and will also compete in the upcoming lightweight tournament.


For Your Reading Pleasure

See how the lineal world heavyweight title runs through the Strikeforce Grand Prix here:

Around The Cage, Vol.1:

Follow me on Twitter @JoeMLanza


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