Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir is the first UFC fighter to make a crossover into the world of Strikeforce since the purchase that shook the MMA world last year.
Mir faces Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier in the last heavyweight bout under the Strikeforce banner.
While Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta might say that this is a one time thing, would the two promotions actually benefit from more UFC crossovers into Strikeforce?
The answer is a quite simple, yes.
Sending over more fighters from the UFC, whether they be prospects or aging veterans with no clear career path, would help bolster not only the roster of Strikeforce’s division, but also add more pull to their prospective cards and give meaningful wins to their champions.
Doesn’t everyone want to see the likes of Luke Rockhold and Gilbert Melendez get tested by UFC-caliber talent? I know I sure do.
Strikeforce will always play second fiddle to the UFC and won’t draw in huge crowds for its cards, because it isn’t really seen as a legitimate promotion. To fans, Strikeforce’s champions aren’t facing the kind of talent they would in the UFC, and that alone makes people question the legitimacy of their belts.
After Josh Thomson lost a close split decision to Melendez, people started shouting how Thomson isn’t UFC quality and if he can do that to Melendez, what would a mid-level UFC talent do against the Cesar Gracie product?
Bringing over someone like a B.J. Penn or an aging veteran like Rich Franklin could give guys like Melendez and Rockhold some wins that look legitimate to a wide range of fans. That alone should be enough of a benefit.
But if that isn’t enough, let us look at this coming card for Strikeforce, featuring Ronda Rousey and Sarah Kaufman battling it out for the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight title.
Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is getting a fight with Derek Brunson. While Brunson is a quality fighter and a worthy opponent, not many people know of Brunson, and therefore, he isn’t exactly drawing attention to the card. Now add someone in from the UFC’s middleweight division, like the aforementioned Franklin, and the drawing power of the card instantly shoots up.
Now, would UFC fighters be willing to make the move over? Most probably wouldn’t, but you could make it worth their while with increased wages for the fight, plus the added attention of fighting on Showtime.
While we probably won’t see many more fighters move from UFC to Strikeforce, the benefits that come from such a move are hard to deny. The UFC’s stars, with no clear path awaiting them in the Octagon, moving over to Strikeforce could be a great help for what seems to be a dying promotion.
Injecting some of the UFC’s veterans and talent into Strikeforce could just be the jolt of energy the promotion needs. Could you imagine some of the fights you could create for Melendez, Nate Marquardt or Rockhold? The possibilities are endless.
Photo: Daniel Cormier (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com)