Strikeforce on CBS: A Tremendous Opportunity for the Growth of Mixed Martial Arts

By E. Spencer Kyte (espencerkyte@mmaratings.net)

Early next month, the men featured in this terrific photo by Esther Lin will take part in two of the four stellar match-ups schedule for the debut of Strikeforce on CBS.

Light heavyweight champion Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi (left) will face Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in a non-title match, one that was originally slated to take place in the DREAM Super Hulk Tournament.

In the main event, consensus #1 heavyweight and MMA legend Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko (right) will step inside the cage for the first time to face undefeated challenger Brett “The Grim” Rogers.

In addition to being arguably the best televised fight card of the year, this is an incredible opportunity for Strikeforce to showcase their brand, their stars and the sports of Mixed Martial Arts as a whole.

Over six million viewers tuned into Spike TV two weeks ago to watch what amounts to an amateur bout between Kimbo Slice and “Big Country” Roy Nelson. Now, mixed martial arts fans across the country will be given a chance to watch one of the greatest fighters the sport has ever seen and three additional outstanding bouts live on network television.

While Spike is a niche network geared towards the core demographic of the sport itself, Strikeforce will be shown on CBS, the home of some of the best and most-watched programs on television today and the hands-down king of televised sports, the NFL.

Never before has the sport been given an opportunity to promote itself in a manner like this; though EliteXC was previously featured on CBS, the organization was promoted on the back of the aforementioned Kimbo Slice, a backyard brawler of internet fame.

Now, we have arguably the greatest fighter of the modern era of mixed martial arts, a young fighter who some believe could be the next to carry that torch and well-known opponents Jake Shields and Jason “Mayhem” Miller to use as selling points and showcases for what top level MMA really looks like.

It’s not as if we’re asking people to find a channel some don’t even have like Versus; even if you don’t have cable, chances are you have CBS and instead of presenting the street certified Slice, we have the 30-1 Fedor Emelianenko to top the marquee.

We have been talking for months about the sport’s push to break into the mainstream and this could be the watershed moment. Four outstanding fights, eight talented fighters and one major network with the ability to promote the event to an entirely new audience, as well as the millions of current fans of the sport and those who tune into AFC action every Sunday afternoon.

Additionally, this is a chance to expand the horizons of those who believe that MMA and UFC are synonymous. While the UFC is certainly the biggest name in the business, they are not the one and only organization worthy of attention in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and this event proves it.

For the low, low cost of zero dollars, fans and curious onlookers alike are going to have the opportunity to watch one of the most anticipated and stacked fight cards of the year without a single glimpse of Dana White. As blasphemous as that may seem to some, it is a more than welcomed opportunity to many, this writer included.

The sport will only grow through the flourishing of numerous organization, Strikeforce included, and this is a grand opportunity to move closer to that end.

Should CBS decide to put their considerable marketing muscle behind this event, and Strikeforce do everything they can to promote these well-known combatants, new ratings records won’t be the only result.

We could have an incredible night of fights that helps break down the barriers preventing mixed martial arts from entering the mainstream, a display of talent, skill and respect that showcases the beauty and artistry of the sport and not the bloodshed.

Hardcore fans are sure to tune in, regardless of any marketing or promotion. You needn’t say more than “free Fedor” to entice many MMA fans to choose CBS on November 7.

But if done correctly, this event could draw entirely new fans and those trapped in the UFC vacuum to an emerging organization and outstanding collection of fights, helping push MMA closer to crashing the mainstream media party.

And if we’re really lucky, maybe some of the critics of “human cockfighting” will sit down and see what mixed martial arts is really about, seeing as they won’t have to spend a dime or search for some channel buried in the upper regions of their satellite or cable service.

Whether all or none of these dreams come true is yet to be determined. One thing that is certainly already is that Strikeforce on CBS is a tremendous opportunity for growth knocking on the door.

Let’s just hope someone answers.

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