Leave it up to Strikeforce to blow one of the best opportunities the company has ever had and continue in a long line of blunders. Scott Coker announced today that the Heavyweight Grand Prix quarterfinals will be delayed until June thus stopping the tournament’s momentum right in its tracks.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker made it official today what has been rumored for over a week now in the MMA world. Over 1 million people who tuned in to watch an exciting pair of quarterfinal matches will now have to wait four months to see the remaining Grand Prix tournament matches featuring Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum and Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rodgers. The remaining quarterfinal matches will take place June 18 in Dallas, Texas. Yeah, good luck remembering that date.
The tournament is delay is a killer. Strikeforce was riding high after record ratings and an exciting opening night back in February which saw former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski and tournament favorite Fedor Emelianenko eliminated in the opening round. The remaining four tournament fighters promoted an April date throughout the telecast which is bound to confuse casual MMA viewers who are expecting to see the remainder of the opening round in a few weeks. Strikeforce is going to have a very difficult time in my opinion reclaiming that lost momentum in June which would make the show over four months out from the opening night, in addition to having the show in the summer which generally sees less people sitting at home watching television altogether. Big Foot Silva can also kiss his momentum good bye.
I also can’t see Strikeforce finishing the Grand Prix heavyweight tournament by the end of the year with the delay. They could do it, but with the inability to schedule a second show in the tournament before four months I have little faith that they can scramble to get the remaining rounds in before 2012. It would also require all of the winners to finish their fights without any major injuries or medical suspensions which are almost impossible for an MMA tournament.
The tournament delay also impacts the future of Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor still has fights remaining on his deal with Strikeforce and he doesn’t come cheap. Fedor’s next fight would most likely be with the loser of the Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem fight. That would now push any potential Fedor fight back until at least mid-September at the earliest, November being most likely. That is a long time to keep their biggest ratings draw on the shelf.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri for the Strikeforce lightweight title, Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle, and Shinya Aoki vs. an unnamed opponent will also take place on the Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley event.
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