This is the first week since Strikeforce’s finale, and now that the promotion is truly gone, with no other events to look ahead to, we can only look to the past in fond remembrance.

There has already been plenty of discussion across the internet of the greatest moments in the promotion’s long history stretching back to 2006. Frank Shamrock vs. Cesar Gracie was the first main event for the promotion that birthed the viability of Scott Coker’s dream and hard work to have life in the MMA landscape. Champions like Gilbert Melendez and Nick Diaz became ranked commodities, garnering attention from fans that understood that the UFC doesn’t equal the entirety of MMA talent. Strikeforce’s respectable place in the MMA universe allowed a fusion of elements to create stars like Ronda Rousey and Daniel Cormier, both of which brightly took up their place in the chorus of the MMA’s celestial field.

Rather than retread most of those top moments, let’s focus on some of the less-discussed great moments in Strikeforce history.

There’s no better place to start than with the ladies who graced the Strikeforce cage.

Strikeforce allowed the women of MMA to gain exposure on a big stage, and their impact has changed the MMA world’s perspective towards the understanding that the ladies stand on their own with equal merit to their male counterparts. It shouldn’t be forgotten how Strikeforce displayed the world’s best female fighters before there ever was an Invicta Fighting Championships.

Gina Carano was the first crossover hit in women’s MMA and, of course, Ronda Rousey has carried the torch to the greatest heights ever seen. However, they hogged the spotlight away from other WMMA pioneers and champions like Marloes Coenen, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, Sarah Kaufman and Miesha Tate.

Coenen dropped from featherweight to have a successful career at bantamweight after the destructive monster that is Cyborg TKO’d her for the title. Coenen went on to win the 135-pound belt by defeating Kaufman via armbar and defend it with a triangle choke finish of Liz Carmouche. Then, Coenen met Miesha Tate and gave a tough, gritty defense before succumbing to a triangle choke herself.

Tate didn’t hold onto the belt for long though, with Rousey taking it from her in their epic fight. Tate’s last fight for the promotion at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman was a notable war with Julie Kedzie that displayed the toughness of the WMMA fighters. It was a fight where no one walked away a loser, though the fight was overlooked by many, despite being just as great a scrap as Joe Lauzon’s war with Jamie Varner at UFC on Fox 4.

There are many names and careers deserving of credit from the female ranks of Strikeforce, but the point is that Strikeforce held a myriad of great WMMA fights and fighters. While they may never get the recognition that so many hardcore fans know they deserve, looking back and remembering their time in Strikeforce is important to understanding and appreciating the history that their efforts created. The Strikeforce broadcast team would commonly and succinctly say that “the women always steal the show,” and though they did, they were just as often overshadowed.

All of Strikeforce’s charm didn’t come from inside cage. There was also the Showtime broadcast team, most notably the emphatic discourse of color commentator Mauro Ranallo, which provided for many entertaining moments. It was a winning formula having retired fighters Pat Miletich and Frank Shamrock offering honest and technical analysis mixed with Ranallo’s chi and enthusiasm.

The classic gems were endless: “I know it’s berry season, but you’re supposed to pick them, not kick them,” “he just met a horse named Charlie,” and “Dr. Cormier in the house, nothing but surgical precision,” are but a few of the lines that Ranallo delivered to fans. At Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu, he screamed, “Who wants a KO for Christmas?” It was a statement that my mind would never consider, but the fun and excitement of Ranallo made it okay. Of course, “Mama Mia!” is his hallmark phrase, but I’m sure we all have fuzzy memories and our own favorites of Ranallo’s puns, sayings and metaphors.

His work in Strikeforce was fun and was acutely balanced by the team of Miletich and Shamrock. Ranallo is the likeable goofball that fans love to hate or hate to love, but either way, his work was a refreshing, proverbial gift.

Time in MMA can be unforgiving for fighters that experience a rapid rise, only to tumble back to earth, forgotten. For a period, Strikeforce touted heavyweight Brett Rogers as the next big thing. Rogers was built up as the average working man that fought his way to prominence in MMA. His hype culminated with a knockout of former UFC heavyweight champion Andre Arlovski. As he peaked, Rogers ran into Fedor Emelianenko, who knocked Rogers out (it would be the only win in four fights that “The Last Emperor” recorded in Strikeforce). Since the lost, Rogers has been unable to regain the same level of success.

It is easy to give detached criticism of fighters, but it takes a lot of conviction to keep pressing forward. Rogers, like many other fighters that stumble in their career, maintains a fighting spirit that can be an inspiration to fans. It was brief, but for a time, Rogers held the attention of the media and fans in a forgotten moment from the ghost of Strikeforce’s past.

There are several talented fighters from Strikeforce that fly under the radar, such as lightweight Billy Evangelista, and while many others are deserving of note, heavyweight Chad Griggs was one fighter that always stood out.

Griggs’ was brought into Strikeforce as an opponent for WWE superstar Bobby Lashley at Strikeforce: Houston, but he ended up walking away with a major boost to his career. He scored a TKO of Lashley, who could not continue due to exhaustion. Lashley’s established fame was something Strikeforce looked to build upon, but Griggs laid that idea to rest. After exposing Lashley’s lack of cardio, Griggs went on to make a successful run in Strikeforce.

In his next outing, Griggs scored a first-round knockout over Gian Villante at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva. It was intriguing seeing this mysterious fighter with large mutton chop sideburns score back-to-back KO’s that were exciting to watch. At the end of the Villante fight, Griggs walked back to his corner with blood streaming from his ear and swathed across his chest and celebrated by stroking his chops. It was, dare I say, an iconic moment.

“The Gravedigger” ended his run in Strikeforce by forcing Valentijn Overeem to submit to strikes a little over two minutes into the first round. That fight was one of two that night meant to create an alternate for a spot in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. It was exciting to think that Griggs could enter the tournament and meet Valentijn’s younger brother, future UFC heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem. But, as we know, Cormier took Alistair’s spot, and the rest was magical history.

Those were just a few of the Strikeforce moments and fighters that might have been forgotten as we look back on the promotion that had so many notable triumphs. Feel free to give your own favorite and forgotten moments in the comments section below.

Photo: Cris “Cyborg” Santos (top) pummels Gina Carano (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

David Massey
Staff Writer

David Massey studied Humanities and Art History at the University of Central Oklahoma. He first found interest in MMA from the first TUF show and has been hooked ever since. He began posting on mmajunkie then submitting Sunday Junkie entries and that began his interest in writing about MMA. Through twitter David found other MMA enthusiasts and began contributing articles to marqueemma.com. He looks forward to growing as a writer and being a part of the sport he loves.