These Things Happen In MMA: Remembering Strikeforce and its Legacy

By Raphael Garcia

The mixed martial arts geometry class is now going to be one polygon lighter come this weekend when Strikeforce’s hexagon goes away. Once considered the #2 promotion, and a potential competitor to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, this promotion has become the latest promotion to be gobbled up by the proverbial 800-pound gorilla that has become Zuffa, LLC. Even still, Strikeforce has given more than a few memorable moments to the recent history of mixed martial arts. Looking back on its four years on the national stage, here are some of the moments that will live on in our hearts and minds:

Bringing Fedor Emelianenko to Our TVs 

Fedor was the real life Ivan Drago. However, unless they were hardcore MMA fans, many individuals did not know of the heavyweight powerhouse through firsthand knowledge. They may have heard of the fighter who had been crushing opponents overseas for years, or they may have seen his highlight videos. However, whereas Affliction failed in making Fedor a well-known name amongst the mainstream fans, Strikeforce was able to do so, even though they and their stable of heavyweights were unable to fully capitalize.

After Fedor smashed Brett Rogers, Strikeforce thought they had their cash cow who would rake in millions of viewers and dollars each time they could get him to compete, and that he’d walk through opponents on the way towards a superfight with then-Strikeforce Champion Alistair Overeem. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be so, as Fabricio Werdum would catch him in the triangle-armbar combination that nearly stopped the MMA world cold. As if that wasn’t enough, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson would throw more dirt on his place in history, as they shut him out in competition in highlight reel fashion.

Strikeforce had one of the most important names in MMA history on their roster. Unfortunately, they were never able to fully capitalize on the greatness that was the “Last Emperor.”

The Establishment of the Women’s Division

Whether you like watching women’s fighting or not, it’s hard to ignore that it has taken a solid place in mixed martial arts today. Not only will 2013 be the first time that two ladies will fight in the Octagon, they will headline a Pay-Per-View, which is something that all male champions haven’t been able to do at this point. The matchmakers at Strikeforce can pat themselves on the back for being trailblazers in an aspect of the sport where other organizations did not want to participate.

While Ronda Rousey is the big name in women’s fighting, other athletes, such as Cyborg Santos, Sarah Kaufman and Miesha Tate, were there to set the stage before the Olympian would take her place. Now, due to the work they put in, Rousey and Liz Carmouche have the opportunity to propel women’s MMA to the next level, depending on how well they perform when all the eyes are upon them in the main event of UFC 157.

The Nashville Brawl

When you hear the word “brawl” you may automatically think negatively of this moment, but what happened in Nashville on April 17, 2010 may have been a blessing in disguise. After defeating Dan Henderson on CBS, Jake Shields was casually answering questions during his post-fight interview when he was approached by Jason “Mayhem” Miller, and what ensued was exactly that. “Mayhem” was attacked by Shields’ training partners Nick and Nate Diaz, and at that moment, cult stars were born. While both the Diaz brothers were solid fighters at that point, they were not the superstars they would become today.

As Gus Johnson pleaded with the men in the cage to stop because they were on national television, the world watched as these athletes lived up to the negative stereotype that had followed the sport around for some time. The Nashville Brawl isn’t referenced too often today, but ask any hardcore fan where they were when it occurred, and they can tell you, as if it is one of those sports moments they will never forget.

Strikeforce may be remembered for its multiple gaffes in matchmaking and its poor planning, but it did bring a lot to the table as a mixed martial arts promotion. As we watch its story come to a close this weekend, let’s also try to celebrate the good that it brought to the MMA community by trying to challenge the UFC’s supremacy within the MMA world, and the small successes it achieved while mounting that fleeting challenge.

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