Showtime and CBS pulled off one of the biggest coups in sports by signing away Manny Pacquiao from HBO Sports. Showtime will now air Manny Pacquiao fights with a ton of promotion on CBS. At the end of the day this could be the break that Strikeforce needs to go to the next level.
It was announced recently that Showtime with help from CBS came to an agreement with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions to broadcast Manny Pacquiao fights. Pacquiao, the most recognizable active boxer in the sport will leave HBO for the rival network. As part of the agreement, CBS will regularly promote Pacquiao and other Top Rank fighters on network broadcasts. Cross promotion would seem logical with Strikeforce since Showtime airs Strikeforce events. New exposure in front of an audience of hardcore and casual boxing fans could make a huge difference for the MMA promotion that could not even break 10,000 at its last live event.
There are plenty of other opportunities for cross promotion. As part of the Showtime/CBS/Top Rank deal, CBS will air a countdown special for each of Pacquiao’s next fights. Maybe you take someone like Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, who is also the K1 kickboxing Grand Prix champion and have him train with Pacquiao on the special? Maybe you put on an MMA/Strikeforce exhibition on a Top Rank boxing show? Maybe you have a hybrid show with Top Rank mixed with boxing and MMA fights featuring Herschel Walker? There are a few different possibilities which all end with Strikeforce going to another level.
MMA reporter Dave Meltzer recently said on a podcast that Strikeforce is eying a pay per view at the end of 2011. Logical thinking would conclude that the pay-per-view would be the Strikeforce Grand Prix final fight. Of course everything would have to fall into place because a final of Big Foot Silva vs. Andrei Arlovski isn’t going to sell a lot of shows. However, with the right main-event and help from Top Rank, CBS, and Showtime, a Strikeforce pay-per-view could be a viable event.
Strikeforce has done a tremendous job of creating interest in just the first few weeks of 2011 with recent shows and announcements. Between the news of the tournament, release of the brackets, and a fantastic Showtime Diaz vs. Cyborg special, the MMA company is definitely going in the right direction. If that direction leads them to the Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosely fight…well even better.