By FIGHT! contributor Matt Burosh
June 6 is a big day, both for Strikeforce and one of its fighters, “Iron” Mike Whitehead.
Strikeforce, having tested the waters on Showtime with it’s Strikeforce Challengers series, is set to produce its biggest card on its biggest stage to date. Whitehead, having garnered a small amount of acclaim through an appearance on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter and fights in a number of promotions including Super Brawl, Extreme Challenge, World Extreme Cagefighting, Rage in the Cage, International Fight League, and Affliction, will fight live on Showtime against UFC and Pride veteran Kevin Randleman.
“Every fight can be a breakout fight,” Whitehead said after the press conference, and it’s unclear if he’s talking about himself or the promotion he’ll fight for. Both Whitehead and Strikeforce have gone largely unnoticed in the fight game until recently, which is interesting considering that Whitehead’s been fighting for most of this decade and Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker has been involved in combat sports since before Zuffa, LLC was a twinkle in the Fertitta brothers’ eyes. But the promotion, like Whitehead, has been taking small deliberate steps toward stardom.
“It’s been a couple of years since I’ve gotten real nervous about a fight,” Whitehead said. “You approach it as a competition and not like, ‘I’m mad at Kevin or I hate the dude.’ It’s a competition of two athletes that are training their asses off and are gonna put their skills against each other. One’s gonna win and one’s gonna lose,” he said.
Whitehead, like Coker, isn’t keen on talking a big game. Instead, each lets their respective actions do the talking—Strikeforce by putting on entertaining, profitable cards, and Whitehead by winning far more often than he loses. If the outcome of Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields is in their respective favors, then both of them could awaken to a brave new world on June 7.