Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed Strikeforce's effort this past Saturday. The pacing was good. The fights were a bit predictable, but all delivered a taste of excitement. However, one glaring thing stuck out from this show and while it is to be expected, in my opinion, it will ultimately do Strikeforce more harm than good.
Everyone knows by now that Strikeforce acquired the assets from EliteXC. Which basically meant they took over most of the mess that EliteXC had but mostly the fighter's contracts that were in limbo as well as getting the deal with Showtime and CBS, which EXC used to have. This is all good. However, as we saw Saturday, they used the exact same format as the EliteXC shows on Showtime. I'm not sure if that's Showtime's doing as maybe they have control on the production aspect of these shows and if so, there's really nothing Strikeforce can do. I just think that for them to really be a force and a true alternative to the UFC, they need to break out from basically looking like EliteXC 2.0.
This may not seem like a major problem, but what I saw Saturday was basically former EliteXC fighters fighting under the Strikeforce emblem. True, Strikeforce doesn't really have many fighters that are specific to their banner outside of Frank Shamrock, Cung Le, Josh Thomson, Gilbert Melendez, and somewhat Alistair Overeem. Other than that, their stars are few and far between so going into this it was to be expected that the more well known fighters would get shine. However, I hope that Strikeforce has plans of incorporating more of their fighters into the Showtime & CBS shows. Of course, Cung Le is too busy doing other things to commit to MMA and Overeem seems to be more interested in K-1 than defending his heavyweight title, but those are two guys that could really help to up Strikeforces stock and make them a valid threat.
One of the things that really sets the UFC apart from it's competition is driving the UFC logo and fighters into your home. Whenever they've acquired other fight orgs or fighter's from other well-known companies they immediately put them in the cage with someone recognized as a UFC fighter. That not only helps the fighter coming over to transition but also helps the UFC by keeping it's name at the forefront. I think Strikeforce knows this but wanted to gain some recognition and bring some hype to it's new deals and the easy way to do that was to use well-known fighters. I think the next few shows for Strikeforce are pivotal in setting itself apart from EliteXC and at the same time building upon what helped Elite become somewhat popular. With some really good fights on the horizon, I think they are setting themselves up to be a really big contender in the world of MMA. They just need to take it one step at a time and not overdo it *cough* Affliction *cough*.
So what do you think, did Strikeforce do a good job of setting themselves up as a future MMA heavyweight on Saturday and what do you think they should improve on?