A decidedly slow week for the UFC means tons of news from the rest of the MMA world. DREAM debuts and looks the most like PRIDE since...well, PRIDE. Elite XC reveals more details on their CBS deal and Fedor fought without a contract. Tons of news, tons of videos, tons of poorly phrased opinions!! Five Rounds!!
Welcome in again everyone to Five Rounds Of News. I'm your esteemed guide through the wild and wooly world of mixed martial arts, Randy Harrison, and we've got a big line-up for this week's edition. Things are a little light on the domestic front as the UFC is in near-hibernation mode, waiting for their big shows in the month of April, but the rest of the MMA world was in full swing, and we're going to take a look at all of it this week. DREAM makes it's debut in Japan to rave reviews and apparently less than stellar ratings, more on the possible partnership between Strikeforce and NBC and apparently the Fedor/M-1 situation wasn't as iron-clad as first thought. Lots to get into and it's time to get it all cracking. Five Rounds....starting...Now-ish!!
DREAM's Debut at Saitama Ends In Controversy
The latest entry into the rapidly over-saturating Japanese MMA market held it's first card as former PRIDE employees and FEG, owners of the promotion that used to be K-1 Hero's, put on DREAM 1 this past weekend in Tokyo at Saitama Super Arena. Most of the fights went the way they were expected to go, but like with any MMA event, there was the odd upset and unfortunately, a main event that was marred by controversy. This event, like Yarrenoka and Sengoku before it, was contested in a white ring with silver ropes, a la PRIDE, and all bouts were set for a ten-minute first round, followed by a five-minute second round. The rules were essentially the rules that have been used in all Japanese MMA promotions and it seemed like another attempt to try to breathe life into the spirit that once was PRIDE. I can't say that they completely succeeded, but out of all three larger scale shows that have taken place since the beginning of the year, DREAM did the best job of recreating the atmosphere and the feel of what PRIDE once was.
There were seven bouts in the first round of the DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix and most of the early fights went the way that most fight experts thought they would go. Joachim Hansen looked great in his first round bout, taking a unanimous decision over Koutetsu Boku, in a fight where he had hurt Boku on a couple of occasions and only the toughness of the Japanese star kept the fight from being stopped. Luis "Buscape" Firimino took on Japanese wrestler Kazuyuki Miyata and was able to stop him with a rear naked choke late in the first round, in a fight that Firimino looked to be in control of the entire time. Mitsuhiro Ishida also looked strong in his win over Korean judo standout Jung Bu Kyung, who continues to impress with his skills in MMA despite losing his first two fights. Bu Kyung threw a scare into Shinya Aoki at Yarennoka, and more then held his own in his bout with Ishida, coming close on a couple of submission attempts while avoiding any real damage, despite being on his back for most of the fight.
The upset of the tournament so far came when Eddie Alvarez stopped Brazilian grappler extraordinaire Andre "Dida" Amade in the first round with a flurry of strikes on the mat. Amade did well early on, but was soon overwhelmed by the power of Alvarez, who used top position to his advantage and pounded away at Amade with hard rights and lefts to the head and body. Alvarez stayed aggressive and didn't give Amade any chance to tie up or rebut the attack which led the referee to step in and save Amade from further abuse. I had fully expected Amade to score a takedown and use those to set up a submission or to ride out a decision but Alvarez surprised me with a solid ground game that stifled Amade. In other first-round tournament action, Katsuhiko Nagata and Tatsuya Kawajiri won, as expected, with both taking unanimous decision victories over foes who seemed a little overmatched in bouts that were less than stellar. There is still the Aoki/Calvancante bout to look at and we will do that shortly, however there were also three non-tournament bouts as well and those are up next.
Ikuhisa Minowa continued his run of fighting giants as Minowa-Man took on former Korean baseball star Kwan Bun Lee, stopping the hulking Korean with a leglock submission in under 90 seconds. This was the expected result, as Lee is hardly an MMA practitioner, but it's still impressive nonetheless as Minowa was giving up somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 pounds to Lee. Hayato "Mach" Sakurai continued his impressive string of wins, grounding and pounding his way to a stoppage over Hidetaka Monma halfway through round one. Sakurai ran his winning streak to five since his KO loss to Takanori Gomi at PRIDE Shockwave 2005 and continues to show why he's one of the best fighters in the world in the lighter weight classes. In the last non-tournament bout, Mirko CroCop made a return to his previous winning ways, playing can crusher to defeat overwhelmed and hapless Tatsuya Mizuno. Mirko surprised me by throwing a few knees in with his strikes, staying with low kicks and punches, rather than looking for the highlight reel high-kick KO. Mizuno didn't offer up much resistance and probably gave up a little quicker than he needed to but it was really a matter of when, not if CroCop would be victorious.
The main event bout featured the centerpiece of the Lightweight Grand Prix, as the long awaited bout between Shinya Aoki and Gesias Calvancante finally took place. This fight had been talked about on numerous occasions and was actually scheduled to take place on New Year's Eve at Yarennoka, but Calvancante had to withdraw from the fight due to a knee injury he suffered in training. Unfortunately, the fight didn't live up to the expectations of fight fans and ended up in controversy, ending the inaugural DREAM card on a fairly sour note. The fight started out well enough with Calvancante landing some solid strikes and not getting drawn into Aoki's vaunted guard, choosing to stand and cause restarts or breaks. The problems arose as Aoki had Calvancante back into one of the corners and Calvancante began throwing elbow strikes. Whether the strikes landed to the base of the neck or spine and did the damage Aoki claimed is somewhat up for debate, but they certainly looked to be illegal blows that caused Aoki to be unable to continue, much to the shock and dismay of the 19,000-plus that had filled Saitama. Aoki took the alloted recovery time and it was determined that the illegal strikes had caused some form of nerve damage which left Aoki with a useless arm and unable to continue fighting.
The fight was ruled a no-contest and has thrown the tournament into disarray. There seems to be two options on the table for DREAM to consider before the Lightweight tournament continues in May and all of them are still available. The first choice will be for the fighter who is medically unable to continue in the tournament to be eliminated, which would lead Calvancante into the second round of the tournament. The second is to hold a rematch of the bout as either a redo of the first-round match, or as one of the second-round matches, with both fighters gaining a bye into the second round. In my opinion, I would love to see a rematch and am hoping that that is how the DREAM staff decide to handle the situation, but a small part of me would like to see Calvancante advance to the next round without a rematch.
Aoki has been known in the past to exaggerate possible fouls during his bouts, leading to fights being declared wins for him at the expense of his opponents. I'm not sure if this is the case in this situation, but where there's smoke, there's fire and Aoki has set off the alarms on more than one occasion before this when it comes to crying foul when there's been none. If it's determined that Aoki perhaps "embellished" his injury to attempt to gain a pas to the second round, he deserves to be punished and removed from the tournament. There's a certain honor that comes with competing in mixed martial arts and if Aoki tried to take an easy road to round two of the Grand Prix, he should not be rewarded with a rematch and a chance to redeem himself. However, if the injury proves to be legitimate and Aoki can recover in time for the DREAM 3 card at the end of May, I would love to see him and Calvancante square off in a second round tournament bout.
On the whole, the night was exciting just for the fact that it felt a lot like the former PRIDE broadcasts and brought back a flood of fond memories as I sat and watched a Japanese feed at all hours of the night. The fights fell a little flat though, as the tournament bouts plodded along at times and the non-tournament bouts were all fairly uneven and somewhat disappointing. While it wasn't a masterpiece card like some of the later PRIDE events, one has to remember that for the first 8-10 events PRIDE was somewhat slow, somewhat boring and somewhat predictable as well. There needs to be time for this new promotion to sort out their growing pains and it will be interesting to see how production values and fight cards improve as time goes on.
We finally get a little hint of UFC news here, but there's still a rather strong international flavor to the Random Strikes this week as well, so let's get to them!
§ The Fight Entertainment Group (owners and founders of DREAM) is reportedly close to signing a deal with HDNet that would allow the network to air six DREAM events from Japan in 2008. The deal could start as early as next week with the network showing the DREAM debut show that occured earlier today.
It would be great to see these events in the States and to see them in English. I enjoyed their coverage of Yarennoka and was able to check it out live. If I have the choice of watching the event on my TV in HD or on my computer with a pixelated stream, TV wins out EVERY time. Plus it would give them a TV presence here in the United States which has proven critical for survival for most of the leading MMA promotions of the world.
§ The Victory Road Promotion debuted on March 5th with an "announced sell out" of 15,523. Reports say that the building wasn't full and that there were more like 13,000 fans in attendance. For a new promotion running a Wednesday night that is still considered a big success.
- The promotion has announced shows for May 18th in the Ariake Coliseum as well as June 8th at the Saitama Super Arena.
- Kevin Randleman was announced as appearing on future cards.
- One of the financial backers is Pro Wrestling Hall of Famer Hiroshi Hase.
That's a decent number for WVR, but the problem it seems like they'll run into is that if you compare the talent between WVR and the new DREAM promotion, there really is no comparison. The main event for the next event of DREAM will more than likely feature Kasushi Sakuraba while the WVR show is set to feature Roger Gracie in their main event. When you think about who is going to do more to draw the fans to the arena, I think that Sakuraba is going to win that hands down. The DREAM roster is SO much deeper than the roster from World Victory Road and it could lead to a quick end for WVR.
§ According to Sherdog.com, Spencer "King" Fisher is out of his UFC Fight Night bout April 2nd against Marcus Aurelio after injuring his shoulder. Jim Miller is rumored as the replacement for Fisher for the fight. Miller is 10-1 in MMA coming off two back-to-back wins over Chris Ligouri at Ring of Combat. His only loss in MMA has come to Frank Edgar.
It's always sad to hear about a fighter ending up having to pull out of a fight with an injury, and this is no different. Fisher has always been one of my favorites and I hope that it's not a very serious injury or something that could end up coming back over and over again. Best wishes to Fisher on a speedy recovery and I hope to be able to report on a comeback fight for him in the very near future.
§ Following Paulo Filho pulling out of his title fight with Chael Sonnen on March 26th, Bryan Baker has stepped in to replace Filho. Baker is 2-0 in the WEC and 6-0 in MMA overall coming off wins over Jesse Forbes and more recently Eric Schambari back in December.
Sonnen really ends up getting the shaft here. I feel badly for Filho and his personal situation, whatever it may be, and I hope the best for him, but Sonnen has to be cursing a streak up in Orgeon as we speak. He goes from possibly getting to avenge a controversial loss to ending up fighting someone who is a fairly dangerous opponent and could derail a future title shot. Here's hoping that Sonnen doesn't fall victim to the letdown of fighting a lesser opponent in a non-title bout.
§ According to Sherdog.com, Diego Sanchez will be taking on Luigi Fioravanti as the main event to The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale on June 21st. According to the article, the bout has been verbally agreed to though not officially signed off on yet.
Sanchez is coming off a dominant victory over David Bielkheden at UFC 82. He's 18-2 in MMA and 7-2 in the UFC. Fioravanti is 12-3 overall and coming off a unanimous decision win over Luke Cummo, also at UFC 82.
Sanchez gets another chance to move back up the ladder against someone that he should more than likely beat. It's not exactly going to be a main event that sets the world on fire, but it's kind of like an American Idol type deal where one of the previous winners comes to sing on the results show. Sanchez is going to get a chance to get a high-profile fight where he is expected to win and win handlily on the Finale of the show that made him famous. He's still a big draw with the Latino market and it should probably end up being a fairly entertaining, if not a little one-sided, main event.
§ The UFC has added two more welterweight bouts to its UFC 84 card for May 24th. "War Machine" Jon Koppenhaver will be fighting Yoshiyuki Yoshida coming off his war with Jared Rollins. Koppenhaver is 5-1 overall in MMA while Yoshida is on an eight fight win streak including wins over Dan Hardy and Akira Kikuchi in Cage Force.
In another welterweight bout, Jason Tan will be taking on Korean fighter Dong Hyun Kim. Tan is 5-2 in MMA but 0-1 in the UFC losing to Marcus Davis. Kim is 9-1-1 in MMA and is coming off a draw against Hidehiko Hasegawa in DEEP back in October.
At this point there's about five different levels to the welterweight division and these guys are at the bottom level. Koppenhaver is riding high after his big fight with Rollins at the TUF Finale. The UFC just keeps bringing in the talent and the depth that they are starting to possess, to the point of being able to have fight cards with 10 or 12 fights on them, is a very good thing for the consumer. None of these guys are necessarily "name" fighters, but someone doesn't have to be a name to put on a good fight. Tan is decent, Kim is a great fighter who I am looking forward to seeing here in the US. Yoshida, I have honestly never heard of, but I plan on doing a little research in the coming weeks to see what I think before his fight in May.
§ Strikeforce vice president Mike Afromowitz has confirmed that the company has signed Kazuo Misaki (411's #10 ranked Middleweight) to a 2 fight deal. The deal would mean that Misaki would be exclusive to Strikeforce in North America, but would let him fight for other promotions in Japan. Misaki could make his Strikeforce debut this summer.
This is a good signing for Strikeforce as they now have the last PRIDE Grand Prix champion in their ranks, and a very talented middleweight fighter to boot. With the Shamrock/Le showdown fast approaching, Strikeforce is looking to continue the momentum in their deepest division and this signing does just that, allowing whoever wins between Shamrock and Le to get to face off against a legitimate top-ten fighter in their next bout. Kudos to Strikeforce on the coup and I like the provision that allows him to be exclusive to Strikeforce in North America, but opens him up to the free market in Japan. A very advantageous position for Misaki and a great signing for Strikeforce.
Elite XC and CBS Firm Up The Plans
The big news of the past few weeks still has to be the deal that Elite XC signed to allow CBS to show live MMA on network television. More news has come out on the deal in the past few days and I thought that there's no time like the present to give you my thoughts on all of it.
As per a press release sent out by CBS and Elite XC, the first broadcast of Elite XC on CBS in the newly-christened "Saturday Night Fights" series will be on May 31 and will emenate from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, beginning at 11 pm EST/9 pm PST and will run for two full hours of MMA action. As expected, the main event is set to feature Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson, but his opponent for the bout has yet to be named. One match that has been set is an Elite XC Middleweight Championship fight, with Robbie Lawler set to defend his title against UFC veteran Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith, who is coming off of a highlight reel KO in his Elite XC debut.
Lawler and Smith should end up putting on one hell of a fight, provided that Robbie is back to 100% after nagging injuries have slowed him down in the past few months. Both guys love to stand and throw, and both have proven to have better than average chins, which means that this could end up being the same type of watershed moment for Elite XC that the Forrest Griffin/Stephan Bonnar fight was for the UFC. However, in the case of Elite XC it wouldn't be basic cable, but primetime, network television, which is the biggest platform of all and could give them the boost they need to become the firm number two promotion in the United States.
As I've said previously, I think that Kimbo is the most marketable fighter that they have and that he's definitely going to bring interest to the main event, but that they really need to move away from his streetfighting background and focus more on his attempts to become a legitimate mixed martial artist if they want to avoid getting any serious backlash from the general public. Show him training with Bas and kicking ass on the heavy bag, and all will be just fine. Show him pummeling on some hapless, out of shape goober in someone's backyard and MMA could be in for a bit of a firestorm.
In an interesting piece of news that was buried in the press release to a certain extent, Showtime Sports will be running the production of the specials, with Elite XC and CBS partnering to bring four, two-hour MMA events to network TV per year, for the length of the contract. This is interesting because it was thought that one of the main concessions that any MMA organization would have to give to get onto network TV would be to give up their production to the network in question. In this case, it looks like Elite XC has gotten to keep their production team in place and will be working more on the behind the scenes aspects, while CBS will merely be providing the platform. The announce team is still up in the air, but if they were able to keep the Showtime production team, I see no reason why Mauro, Stephen and Bill can't continue to do the broadcasting for the events on CBS as well. They have a decent chemistry as a team and are infinitely more knowledgeable than anyone that CBS would be able to produce on such short notice.
All in all, things are looking pretty rosy for Elite XC and they are really taking serious strides towards becoming a major player in the MMA world and the biggest competition that the UFC has seen in quite some time. In fact, the UFC has never had to face this type of threat to their popularity on a domestic level, so it will be interesting to see how they respond. This is a great time to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, and we could be heading to our own version of pro wrestling's "Monday Night Wars", with two organizations rising head and shoulders above the rest and clashing for superiority. The thought of it makes me giddy. I mean who ever thought that we'd see ads for MMA being shown during the NCAA Basketball Tournament?
For a lot of fight fans, it may not have been possible to check out the DREAM show as it happened, or to have even been able to check out the fights now, a week after the event took place. I told you last week at the end of the news, that if I could find videos I would make sure that you all got to see them, and now I make good on my promise. Here for your enjoyment is the best of DREAM 1.
DREAM 1 – Hayato "Mach" Sakurai vs. Hidetaka Monma
DREAM 1 – Ikuhisa "Punk" Minowa vs. Kwan Bum Lee
DREAM 1 – Joachim "Hellboy" Hansen vs. Koutetsu Boku Part One
DREAM 1 – Joachim "Hellboy" Hansen vs. Koutetsu Boku Part Two
DREAM 1 – Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic vs. Tatsuya Mizuno
DREAM 1 – Gesias "JZ" Calvancante vs. Shinya Aoki
First Lesnar, Now Lashley?
The following report surfaced this past week, and while it's been murmured for a while, now that it's a full-fledged rumor that could possibly happen, I figured it's time to throw my two cents in on it. First the newsbit itself;
"Bobby Lashley's management has been putting his name out to several MMA groups, including the UFC. UFC isn't that high on Lashley, even though Brock was a success as a draw. UFC doesn't want to repeat the same deal with Lashley. The thought is that if Lashley could earn a few small wins on the smaller circuits, then UFC might show interest. But with Brock Lesnar's success, Elite XC maybe interested in a match with he and Kimbo Slice. Lashley has trained for MMA, but not for many years. He is financially well off, so he doesn't have to jump into a commitment right away."
Where do I even begin with all of this? I don't blame the UFC for not wanting to hop right on him because like the post said, they did it before with Lesnar and it worked, but Lashley was NOWHERE near as popular as Brock Lesnar. Not to mention that they don't want to be thought of as nothing more than a place where disgruntled WWE talent can come to make a quick buck and get their asses handed to them. The UFC is right in wanting to see Lashley put some wins together on the smaller circuits before they even consider bringing him in. Hell, put Lashley in Strikeforce against Bob Sapp or someone like that, then if he does well feed him another can and get the ball rolling. It would have to be a lot better than giving him a can and then expecting him to face Paul Buentello or Alistair Overeem.
As for Elite XC's stake in the whole thing, it looks like their show that was supposed to debut in April on CBS has now been pushed back to May and with Kimbo looking to feature prominently in that card's main event, it's expected that Elite would love to see Kimbo/Lashley on their first network show to try to recreate the buzz that surrounded Frank Mir and Brock "So you broke Tim Sylvia's arm, so WHAT!!" Lesnar. The problem here again is that Lashley wouldn't be easily recognizable by the mainstream fan who didn't already follow wrestling on some level because he never had the time to make a big enough impact in the wrestling world to cross over to mainstream media.
Lashley/Kimbo would be a mistake on so many levels and would be possibly the worst main event they could hand over to CBS. Granted, the most likely scenario is that Kimbo pops Lashley a good one in the side of the head and he drops like a tree stump. It's also just as likely though, that Lashley ducks inside, gets a takedown and then either grounds and pounds or lays on top of Kimbo to ride out a decision. Either way, it looks like it would be a bad move on Elite XC's part. If Kimbo were to win in his usual convincing fashion, it would be written off as a freakshow win, which is something that Kimbo needs to stay away from more and more as he struggles to gain credibility. If he loses, all of the work that Elite has put into building him and popularizing him would just go up in smoke overnight.
Lashley has the amateur chops, much like Lesnar, but one has to wonder how dedicated to it he will be. Just like Lesnar, Lashley decided that the rigorous travel schedule (among other things) was a bit too much for him to take in the WWE. How is he going to like the training schedules of MMA, where it seems like 10 to 12 hour training days are the norm. The newsbit says that he's been training previously in MMA, but in my opinion he should train MMA for at least 12-15 more months before even considering a fight. The post says that he's fairly financially secure so he wouldn't be hurting for income and that time would allow him to work on his other skills to let him be more well-rounded as a fighter and less of a wrestler that lays and wins boring fights.
Links In The Cage
The great content continues here at the 411mania MMA zone, and here's your all access, backstage pass to check it all out. You can thank me later.
In the neverending saga of Fedor Emelianenko, a twist came this week that I had never even considered. According to various reports, the first reports of Fedor's contract with M-1 Global were greatly exaggerated. It turns out that Fedor had never even signed a contract with the company, instead agreeing only to a letter of intent. As stated last week in Five Rounds, this makes Fedor nearly a free agent, with the only thing standing between Emelianenko and the open market being his repayment of $1.5 million of a signing bonus that was given to him upon reaching his agreement with M-1.
This seems to fly in the face of what M-1 promoter Monte Cox had been saying about the situation, trying to dispel the rumors and making claims that Fedor was locked in with M-1 for the long term. It turns out that by the end of next week Fedor could be back on the open market and the sweepstakes re-open again. There are a few places that he could turn up, and all of them have at least some compelling point to be made in their favor, so let's break it down and take a look at how it all could turn out.
First there is the UFC, the big dog, the leader of mixed martial arts worldwide. The UFC and Fedor tried previously to come to an agreement and the big sticking point seemed to be Fedor's desire to continue competing in combat sambo tournaments in his native Russia. I can see why the UFC would not exactly want to see their top star competing in anything but the Octagon, especially considering the amount of money I'm sure they would be paying him. I don't see this situation getting ironed out anytime soon, and with this being the biggest hurdle impeding the chances of Fedor setting foot in the UFC for a fight of any kind, I'd put the chances of this one happening at a slim and slender 10%.
Next up is HDNet Fights, the apparent future home of Randy Couture. This one would be compelling for Fedor, due to his willingness to fight Randy, but the same thing that helps HDNet Fights could end up being their downfall as well. The open-ended contract system that HDNet employs for their fighters which allows for them to be able to ply their trade in any other promotion and opens up the lanes of talent-sharing back and forth, could haunt them big time. If Randy is already signed in, all Fedor would have to do is sign to a promotion that has a working arrangement with the HDNet people, work out a little talent exchange, and you've got Fedor/Couture in the HDNet Fights cage. With billionaire Mark Cuban behind the controls and Fedor having already forged a decent relationship with the HDNet folkes after Yarennoka, I'd put the chances of this one happening a little higher and say 25%
Remember the promotion that I talked about just previously. The one where if they had a working relationship with the HDNet Fights promotion that a possible co-branded Couture/Fedor fight could end up taking place. Well look no further, because Fedor could also be headed to the rings of DREAM which, as stated earlier in this very column, looked like PRIDE reincarnate. We know that Fedor will always have as soft spot for the people of Japan and the response that he gets every time he fights. DREAM also has Mirko CroCop's services and the rumors are already flying that DREAM may be trying to put together a rematch between Mirko and Fedor for their first New Year's Eve show in Tokyo. That fight has lost a lot of its luster since the consecutive losses that CroCop sustained, but it's still a fight that I'm sure both men would desperately want, no matter what the cost. The fact that DREAM looks like the strongest of the Japanese promotions and that there's a match waiting for him like Mirko, this one looks like it could be anywhere as high as a 60% chance that he ends up fighing for the former K-1 Hero's.
Last, but not least is a newcomer to the MMA circuit, Affliction. Affliction is the gear company that has made lots of shirts for fighters and lots of shirts for non-fighters as well. They've expereienced a huge surge in popularity due to their products being featured and shown on UFC television. They're apparently looking to move towards the promotion aspect of MMA and have signed Matt Lindland to their promotions according to various sources. Affliction is also looking at signing Fedor's brother Aleksander, which could play a huge part in deciding where he ends up. They're a new promotion and have signed Lindland, but Fedor has already fought and beaten Lindland rather handily, and there doesn't seem to be much else that could challenge him in the newly minted Affliction ring. I give this one a 5% chance of happening, just because anything is possible, but file this one under highly, HIGHLY unlikely.
Again, as I said before, the coming weeks will reveal a lot about Fedor's place in the current landscape of MMA and where he signs could ultimately shift the balance of power among the smaller MMA promotions both here and abroad.
Random Strikes Part Deux
A good fight video to get you ready for the big Sho XC card this weekend, which features a main event with King Of The Cage veteran, Thomas "Wildman" Denny, taking on relative newcomer to MMA, Malaipet MTA. Malaipet has felt the bright lights of the big stage before, fighting on the October Sho XC card. Five Rounds is happy to bring you that fight now, to give you taste of what to expect this weekend.
Malaipet MTA vs. Kaleo Kwan ShoXC October 26, 2007
Strikeforce and NBC Make A Deal...Probably
Hot on the heels of Elite XC announcing their network TV deal with CBS, their partner promotion Strikeforce has apparently struck a deal as well, with network station NBC. While this deal appears to be far less lucrative than the one that Elite XC was able to negotiate with CBS, it's still a huge deal for the fledgling Northern California promotion and is one that is big for MMA as a whole once again. There are pluses and minuses to the deal for Strikeforce, and there are still some details that appear to need ironing out, but so far the deal seems to be as follows.
The deal put in place could begin as early as April of 2008 and would allow for Strikeforce to have a weekly, one-hour television show to be able to promote their fighters and events through the use of the fight library at Strikeforce's disposal, as well as interviews with current Strikeforce stars. Unfortunately for Strikeforce though, the show would be unlikely to air at any time before 1 AM, which would probably put it on during the weekend, when most people would be out getting their proverbial drink on.
The HUGE plus of course is the network TV exposure that Strikeforce would receive, which could boost their status in the MMA world exponentially. Being on broadcast television would be a huge feather in the cap of Strikerforce and they would more than likely be able to capitalize on that somewhat in the short term, and fully use it to their advantage when their co-promoting deal with Elite XC expires. Strikeforce will be able to gain new viewers that might not be familiar with their product, as well as show previous fights to current fans of the promotion who may not have been able to find the older bouts anywhere.
The two negatives that I can see out of this deal are the timeslot issue, and the issue of how deep the Strikeforce library really is, and whether it could sustain a weekly broadcast. The timeslot is the first major stumbling block, as I know that I will more than likely forget about any MMA show that's on at 1 AM, no matter how good it is. I have UFC Wired in syndication in my area (on NBC actually), and it airs on Saturday night/early Sunday morning at 2AM. I don't think I've seen a single episode of the show yet, not for a lack of trying, but mainly because I just forget that it's on. Strikeforce is going to have to do a LOT of marketing to get people to realize that the show is on and hope to gain a bit of a cult following among the late-night crowds.
The second issue is with their library of fights which they'll have to choose from. Granted they have fights from stars like Gilbert Melendez, Frank Shamrock, Cung Le and Gina Carano, but they have essentially 100 fights to choose from out of all of the events that Strikeforce has held so far. If you show even only 2 fights per show, you've completely exhausted your library in 50 weeks. Less than one full year of programming from that library, which isn't a good thing at all. Of course, it helps that Strikeforce has been one of the busier promotions in MMA since the rebirth of the brand in 2006, but that can only go so far. Strikeforce will have to risk running repeat episodes on a semi-regular basis until they can beef up the fights they can choose from to show on the air.
As usual, any MMA on free TV is good news for me, and I can't wait to see if Strikeforce and Elite XC will be able to make it work on their respective networks. Is anyone else out there as ready for Monday Night MMA as I am?
Post Fight Wrap-Up
That's it for another jam-packed edition of Five Rounds Of News everyone, thanks for stopping in on my little slice of land here at 411mania and checking out my thoughts on the week that was in MMA. Come back next week for a huge preview of the Strikeforce/Elite XC card, as well as everything else that pops up in the next seven days in Mixed Martial Arts. Be sure to check me out then and until then, have a safe and happy weekend everyone and enjoy the fights. Good night Springton, there will be no encores!!
Be sure to check out my fellow Canuck, Joe Ferraro and his "Showdown" radio show, every Thursday at 10 PM EST, on FAN 590 or the archives of the show at Showdown Entertainment.