The game has been stepped up, ladies and gentlemen. Strikeforce's attempt to overthrow the UFC's heavyweight division as the best in the sport with their Heavyweight Grand Prix has been well documented here at Cageside Seats, and rumor has it that we may be seeing more than just this attempt to surpass the UFC in terms of having the best fighters in certain weight classes. Josh Gross of ESPN reports:
Dream co-producer Real Entertainment plans on forging ahead in the turbulent Japanese mixed martial arts promotion business with an eight-fighter lightweight tournament starting in May, sources tell ESPN.com.
HDNet confirmed to ESPN.com that they would broadcast the tournament stateside.
The field would consist of Strikeforce and Real Entertainment fighters, possibly but not necessarily under the Dream banner, and likely without FEG, which has been its promotional partner since Pride Fighting Championships was purchased by Zuffa in 2007.
"We're committed to keeping our fighters active, but if we can help Dream and have our fighters go over there and participate in their tournament, why not?" said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, who confirmed ongoing discussions between his promotion and Real Entertainment for the May event. "If things go the way they should, I feel confident we'll send a bunch of guys over."
The lightweight division is right next to the heavyweight division in terms of the UFC not having control of a large portion of top 10 fighters. It makes complete sense that Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker would be more than happy to send fighters over to participate, Strikeforce fighters have manhandled fighters from Dream so far, and would likely do so throughout this grand prix, catapulting the winner through the ranks just as the winner of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix will. A Dream/Strikeforce lightweight grand prix would feature fighters such as Gilbert Melendez, Shinya Aoki, Josh Thomson, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and many more.
If things proceed as planned for Strikeforce, 2011 could end up being their year in the battle against the UFC, and as a fan, I am thrilled. When the UFC's back is against the wall, they make power plays, look no further than Brock Lesnar vs. Junior dos Santos on TUF 13 to see what I mean. Strikeforce is striking while the iron is hot, and look to rival the UFC just as Pride did in years past. The wildest thing? It just might work.