With Strikeforce’s final event just around the corner, this is a time to reflect on the promotion’s legacy and what could have been.

Many of Strikeforce’s stars have already jumped ship to the UFC.

Whether it be Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson or heavyweights like Antonio Silva or Fabricio Werdum, many fighters have already made the jump and most have succeeded in doing so.

Both Diaz and Henderson had title shots before losing them.  Diaz’s changed into an interim title fight against Carlos Condit, which Diaz lost. The Cesar Gracie product only recently regained his title shot due to an angry Georges St-Pierre. Henderson, on the other hand, was once the top contender at light heavyweight, but due to an injury and a smooth-talking former middleweight contender, his title shot has disappeared. In the time since his return to the UFC, though, Henderson has looked spectacular and has been a very entertaining fighter.

Bringing guys like Diaz and Henderson over into the UFC was the smart thing to do. In Strikeforce, these guys weren’t fighting the best competition in defending their respective belts. Even though Strikeforce still has a welterweight division, legitimate title challengers are hard to come by. It took Strikeforce almost a year to put together a welterweight title fight for the vacant strap that Diaz left behind to sign with the UFC.

The talent just wasn’t there to keep the division alive with fighters outside the UFC, and now to end Strikeforce we get Nate Marquardt versus Tarec Saffiedine. On its own, it’s a pretty good fight, but altogether there hasn’t been enough done by both fighters to earn this title shot. Marquardt’s title fight with Tyron Woodley, in which the UFC veteran captured the belt, was his first fight at welterweight. And Saffiedine hasn’t been overly impressive in his last three wins and hasn’t really beaten anybody of note.

But with the bad comes the good, like the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, a great tournament on paper featuring some of the biggest names in heavyweight MMA. Alistair Overeem, Werdum, Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, Sergei Kharitonov, Andrei Arlovski and Brett Rogers—all were big names in the heavyweight division when the tournament kicked off.

Most of those names ended up falling out, such as Arlovski and Rogers. Another—Overeem—moved over to the UFC after a mysterious “toe injury,” and the grand prix marked the beginning of the end for the era of Emelainenko. The tournament provided so many highs and lows, so many great fights and the tournament-style action that everybody loves.

The tournament also brought about a future staple in the heavyweight division, Daniel Cormier. Cormier has been fantastic in his Strikeforce tenure and has shown he really has what it takes to be a UFC heavyweight. This alone has brought many to wonder if he can challenge for the heavyweight crown, and if not the heavyweight crown, can he possibly fight at light heavyweight and challenge Jon Jones?

While only a handful of the Grand Prix heavyweights have remained relevant over the past few years—Overeem, Werdum, Silva, Barnett and Cormier—the Grand Prix is something we should look upon as a spectacle that we will never see again. It had all the best fighters from a weight class in a Zuffa-owned promotion fighting for their title shot.

Zuffa had a pretty thin roster to work with when it bought Strikeforce. There were not many legitimate threats to anybody in the UFC, many fighters were considered average and Strikeforce was mostly a promotion viewed as the Triple-A of MMA.

If Zuffa didn’t purchase Strikeforce, then maybe things would be a tiny bit different. Strikeforce could have possibly kept all its stars under one roof, instead of losing them one by one to the UFC. For stars like Gilbert Melendez, Overeem, Henderson and Diaz, it would have only been a matter of time and would have just delayed the progress in their blossoming careers—or in the case of Henderson, the great ending.

Strikeforce may have lasted a little longer than it did, but in the end the fate would have been the same. The talent level simply was not there to keep fans interested over the long haul, and with already weak fight cards, it would have only been a matter of time until cards were canceled due to injuries eliminating key fighters from the lineup.

What we do have from Strikeforce is a pretty good legacy from the Zuffa days. First and foremost, the thought that women fighting in the UFC would never happen has been debunked. If you had asked me after the purchase of Strikeforce if that would have happened, I would have told you to seek medical help because you’re absolutely crazy. Seriously, remember those days when WMMA just was not a part of the UFC’s future?

Without Strikeforce and the development of Ronda Rousey, this certainly would never have happened. Never, ever times infinity.

Now look what we have—a major UFC card headlined by a female title fight. Not only that, but it is getting major attention even with a questionable title challenger. That is what is known as a major interest draw.

Then, there’s also Strikeforce’s role in revitalizing the careers of Diaz and Henderson, who now stand near the top of their respective divisions after fighting lackluster talent in Strikeforce.

Plus, there’s also the destruction of the career of one of the best mixed martial artists ever. Emelianenko was seen as unbeatable, but then he came into Strikeforce, whipped around Brett Rogers and then suddenly, he crashed harder than a nine-year-old on a sugar rush. Three straight losses—including one to a much lighter Dan Henderson—and that was the end of his career. Sure, he’d fight a few more times overseas, but the aura of invincibility and the level of attention given to his fights had subsided.

Just like that, an invincible fighter was done. Now seen by many as overrated, his career was destroyed.

Although Strikeforce may be done as an ongoing promotion, its legacy will live on much like that of the WEC still does—through its talented fighters. We may one day see a Strikeforce champion become a UFC champion, and that’s what we’re really waiting for anyway.

Photo: The Strikeforce Championship Belt (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.