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Sports

January 19, 2013

David Estrada column: UFC shadow proves too much for Strikeforce

PORT ARTHUR — Strikeforce has gone the way of MMA promotions, such as PRIDE Fighting

Championships, Affliction, Elite XC and the WEC, in that it has ceased

operations. Simply put, it could not live in the shadow of the Ultimate

Fighting Championship.

    Strikeforce proved to be the little engine that could, making new heights in the

sport of mixed martial arts, but a glass ceiling existed in the pinnacle of MMA

that was the UFC. Strikeforce made some contributions to the sport of MMA that

cannot be denied and must be addressed.

    Founded by Scott Coker in 1985, Strikeforce started as a kickboxing promotion in

California before turning to MMA in 2006. Its early events featured legends of

the sport like Frank Shamrock, Tank Abbott, and Caesar Gracie. The promotion

was not a threat to the UFC's dominance because they stayed regionally in

northern California.

    UFC president Dana White even praised Strikeforce during

these days saying he liked the small promotion.

    After proving to be very successful in California, Strikeforce started to expand

its horizons as the sport of MMA started to explode itself. It held a national

pay per view in 2007 and started venturing out of the state with its events in

2008. It started to draw the eye of the UFC in a different way than before.

    In 2008, Strikeforce made a deal with Showtime to air its fights. The promotion

succeeded where the UFC had failed. For years, the UFC was unable to procure a

deal with HBO, Showtime, and other premium television channels to air their

events.

    Top-rated international fighters and even some former UFC fighters started to

flock to Strikeforce. The little promotion that Dana White once praised was now

a rival and he even went on to coin them as "Strikefarce."

    With a national and international spotlight on them, Strikeforce started to flex

its muscle even more. Showtime parent company Viacom decided to air Strikeforce

on CBS broadcast television in 2009. Broadcast live from Chicago's Sears

Center, Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers was viewed by millions around the US.

    This was MMA on free TV done right, unlike the Elite XC Kimbo Slice facade that

aired a year prior. The Strikeforce event on CBS featured valid MMA fighters

including then world No. 1  heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.

    Strikeforce also opened the doors for many. It gave former collegiate and WWE

entertainment wrestler Bobby Lashley a shot in MMA. Most notably for Texans, it

gave former NFL great Herschel Walker two bouts in its cage. The Taekwondo

black belt pulled out two wins in two fights before calling it quits.

    Strikeforce's biggest contribution, however, is one that people take for granted

today. It had a women's MMA division that other promotions such as the UFC

shunned upon. Strikeforce changed this by showcasing the world's best women

fighters and demonstrated the art of MMA applied to all.

    Stars such as Gina Carano, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, and Ronda Rousey blazed a trail for women in the sport by showcasing their talents.

    The UFC's parent company Zuffa surprisingly bought Strikeforce in 2011 from the

group who owned it. The UFC and Strikeforce were to operate in parallel until

recently Zuffa said Strikeforce would fold with their last bout on January 12,

2013.

    The UFC will absorb many of Strikeforce's top fighters and champions so fans

will benefit by being able to see these fights. Another fantastic thing about

Strikeforce's absorption into the UFC is that the UFC will now have a women's

MMA division.

    People will start to see women mixed martial artists in the

Octagon starting this February.

    David Estrada Jr. is a Mixed Martial Arts columnist for the Port Arthur News. He can be e-mailed at DavidEstrada@DavidEstrada.com

 

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