Strikeforce raised eyebrows right at the turn of the year, announcing their heavyweight "grand prix", featuring Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum, and Josh Barnett to name a few. Despite speculation on whether or not the tournament will actually see it's completion without fighters dropping out, or getting injured, Strikeforce is confident that no only will their tournament go as planned, but will decide the number one heavyweight fighter on the planet. From the press release announcing the tournament:
"We are thrilled to have come to a long-term agreement with Fedor and M-1 GLOBAL," said STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker. "To have the greatest MMA fighter of all-time put his legacy on the line in a single-elimination tournament will truly captivate MMA fans worldwide. STRIKEFORCE is home to the best heavyweight division in the world; the athlete who runs the gauntlet in a tournament such as this would have to be considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world."
Emphasis mine. Scott Coker is soft spoken compared to UFC president Dana White, but he's not bashful about the intent of this tournament. Members of the media have pointed out that in all honesty, Strikeforce isn't putting on a tournament, but just letting the world know their plans for match making and sticking a "tournament" label on it. There's added prestige when you say that a fighter won a tournament, Strikeforce is aware of this, and are using this to further their argument that the winner will be the best heavyweight fighter in the world. Consider this, what was it that sent Brock Lesnar soaring through the heavyweight rankings? The UFC's heavyweight "tournament" that featured Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture, Frank Mir, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. It took Fedor losing and an awe inspiring comeback from illness and Shane Carwin to see Lesnar ranked number one though, and Cain Velasquez took the title from Lesnar, as well as the number one ranking at UFC 121.
With Velasquez injured, it looked like Strikeforce had staged a major coup in the heavyweight division, but yesterday Dana White pulled a rabbit out of his hat, announcing that Brock Lesnar would meet Junior dos Santos on The Ultimate Fighter reality show, fight, and the winner would go on to face Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title. Lesnar is a large, mean, 265lbs distraction from Strikeforce's grand prix. Junior dos Santos will also be introduced to mass amounts of fans, and look to breakthrough as a new star in the UFC.
What looked like a sure victory for Strikeforce, is now an intriguing battle of sport politics, fighter performances, and promotional capabilities. This unintentional synergy has done both Strikeforce and the UFC major favors, as casual fans, hardcore fans, and curious eyes will be tuning in to see how both events play out over the year.
Which promotion will be home to the number one heavyweight on the planet come 2012?
UFC (166 votes)
Strikeforce (187 votes)
Other (2 votes)
355 total votes