The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Cung Le Drops Strikeforce Middleweight Title

Right then: explain to me the idea behind having titles if they’re never defended, champions drop them because they have better things to do, and beltholders commonly fight in other organizations for years at a time? I don’t mean to bash Strikeforce here; but the reality is that they’re essentially a pro wrestling promotion at this point, built around creating clashes between strong personalities independent of sporting considerations like specific weight classes, titles, contender slots, etc. Why not just embrace it and save yourselves the iffy publicity of titles which mostly serve to draw attention to questions like why Alistair Overeem is so huge, and why he fights almost exclusively in Japan, or why your two star women fighters can barely make weight, or why your (ex) middleweight champ doesn’t want to fight for you, or why your interim lightweight title has been defended more than your actual lightweight title, or why you have such excruciatingly poor divisional depth that you can’t even create a welterweight title, etc. etc.

The idea behind titles in combat sports has always been a simple one- to draw money by creating a symbol which demarcates those fights which are in theory of the highest possible caliber, such that a premium can be charged to watch them. Strikeforce already has a basic credibility issue here because the only division in which they have even a remotely serious claim to the best fighter in the world is heavyweight (with respect to Gegard Mousasi, he’s got a VERY limited track record at 205…for now) and that guy isn’t even the champion or scheduled for a title shot, so their titles have a junior varsity or regional feel to them already. Throw in the cavalier treatment they get from fighters and the promotion and there’s simply no way that most of them are going to draw money right now. Casual fans don’t know who the champions are and they’ll have trouble buying them even if they’re informed; hardcore fans know who they are and know that they’re not serious contenders for best-in-the-world status. Anyone who watches a couple of Strikeforce shows in a row is powerfully reminded of the roster size issues. It’s a conundrum.

Two possible solutions, short of just shitcanning belts as a concept: since you need to try something outside of the framework established by UFC (you certainly can’t compete directly), cut all titles down to 1: the Strikeforce Openweight World Championship. It makes the roster size issues much less glaring, it’s an open license to do the kind of freakshow fights which, frankly, Strikeforce SHOULD be doing right now, and there’s no reason you can’t still do interesting smaller weight fights like Jason Miller vs. Jake Shields which will have the same amount of interest whether or not it’s for a 185 pound lump of metal and leather. Alternately, if this is too radical, you can half-ass it: cut it down to 2 titles, one for above 190 pounds and one for less. Many of the same advantages, and it gives a specific focal point for smaller guys. I have difficulty seeing how either of these approaches aren’t superior to the current mix of chaos and disinterest, unless the adherence to the traditional belt and weight class structure is mandated by the TV partners at CBS and Showtime.

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September 18, 2009 - Posted by | MMA | , ,

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