As if Carano vs. Cyborg needed cache beyond the fact that it will be the biggest card headlined by a women’s MMA bout, Strikeforce will serve up a total of four championship fights on Aug. 15.
In addition to the main event between Gina “Is Hot” Carano and Cris “Cyborg” Santos to determine the newly created women’s 145-pound champion of the world, the San Jose-based organization is bringing Christmas early this year with three additional title fights including Gilbert Melendez defending the interim lightweight championship in a grudge match against Mitsuhiro Ishida, Renato “Babalu” Sobral defending the light heavyweight strap against Gegard Mousasi and Nick Diaz battling Jay Hieron for the brand spanking new welterweight strap.
While the thought of viewing multiple five-round championship bouts with highly regarded combatants is enough to psyche up MMA aficionados and make Adam Lambert happy in way too many places, one has to wonder whether or not Strikeforce is spreading itself too thin. There won’t be many MMA cards that can rival the electricity surrounding Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg and that’s where the problem could lie.
Ever since Strikeforce purchased select assets and fighter contracts from EliteXC this past February, the promotion has been on a crusade to throw together a show every month alternating betwee two separate formats. One of these formats is a major show that features title fights and their biggest name mixed martial artists. The other is ShoMMA: Strikeforce Challengers, a series similar to the UFC’s Ultimate Fight Night, and features up-and-coming talents with a mid-level main event like Joey Villasenor vs. Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos.
After Aug. 15, the organization’s next big fight card won’t take place until October and it’s unlikely any of the four champions crowned this weekend will be willing or able to fight again so quickly except maybe Nick Diaz who is down to scrap anytime. That leaves two championships up for grabs – the middleweight and heavyweight titles.
Since 185-pound kingpin Cung Le is out getting his makeup done on Hollywood sets, Strikeforce owner Scott Coker announced that Jake Shields would fight for an interim title in Le’s absence. This could happen should Coker come up with a compelling opponent, say for instance recent Strikeforce signing Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
As far as heavyweights go, Alistair Overeem was originally slated to defend the 265-pound strap against Fabricio Werdum on this coming event, but dropped out due to injury. Though Coker has made rumblings about Overeem returning this October, the fighter has been getting injured too often to fight. If he finally gets healthy enough to fight, who gets first crack at him? Brett Rogers, the guy he was supposed to fight in June who instead knocked out Andrei Arlovski in a matter of seconds? Fabricio Werdum, the Brazilian who tapped him out in Pride? Or Fedor Emelianenko, the Sambo master who eats people’s souls and is considered the best fighter in the world by everyone except Dana White?
Coker has promoted so many “why not” superfights in the last year that he seems to be drunk on legitimate title matches. But by promoting four championship fights on one night he might be setting the bar impossibly high for future cards. Anything less than a middleweight title scrap, a heavyweight championship fight, and Fedor on the October card will seem like a letdown. Not that we’re complaining. We’re just gonna cross our fingers and hope that Showtime can fit all four fights into the broadcast.