You know, I was never really excited about the Diaz/Shamrock event. On paper, there was every reason to be; the return of Brett Rogers, a half-decent test for Cyborg, and a chance for Diaz to achieve relevance again. But there was something about this card that simply didn’t ignite the fuel of my interest. The answer: promotion.
I realize now that they can’t really be blamed for that. They had hoped that the controversy from Nick “Says offensive things” Diaz and Frank “Says cocky things” Shamrock would be enough to carry the event. Say what you will about Dana White; he’s at least understood that you have to create a narrative about a fight in order to build anticipation for it. If you let it develop organically like the Diaz / Shamrock fight, you get a weird and chaotic result. Rather than a scathing series of playful jabs and retorts, we were treated instead to an episode of “All in the Family”. Shamrock’s responses to Diaz’s diatribes was almost parental in nature.
To make matters worst, one of their key stars came in so insultingly overweight that it overshadowed what should have been a great setup for a superfight down the road. To say that I came in with low expectations would fail to indicate my lack of interest in the card. I was planning on doing my taxes during the show.
Imagine my surprise when the delight of actually seeing Rogers fight, and witnessing the resulting brutality with which he vanquished his opponent, bitched slapped me back to MMA land. Any skepticism as to the quality of this card were immediately crushed with the follow up. The show itself was one equally brutal fight after another; most were slaughters, but one had an incredible comeback so unlikely, it made Rocky 4 look like All the President’s Men.
In terms of outcome the organization has magically scored a slam dunk, and with it, the promise of more goodies to come. The Cyborg / Carrano fight is so significant, you could build a card around it. The notion of a woman’s fight headlining an event would help cement female MMA an important part of the sport itself rather than just an afterthought.
And although Brett Rogers’ opponent was not well known, his ability to absorb damage at least convinced us that Rogers can kick some serious ass. He looked positively fired up; I’m sure the thought of changing one more fucking tire inspired his brutal knees that finally caved the chin of Abongo Humphrey. It’s been hard to be entertained in the heavyweight division lately, but Rogers has managed to consistently deliver one entertaining fight after another. You would be insane to send him back to Sam’s club.
Assuming that Diaz passes a piss test (which sadly enough is a real concern), a win invigorates their problem child franchise to the point where they can finally venture to the already overspending MMA public with their hats out, Oliver style asking, “please sirs, can I have some more?”. And now Frank Shamrock can take his seat at the commentator’s booth back which was kept warm by his rather pedantic and jittery replacement, Pat Militech.
Scott Smith represents the strange oddity that will continue to elude anyone trying to attest to his competence as a fighter. Is he good, or does he just have the heart the size of an elephant? I would venture to say the latter, which is enough to make me a fan.
Benji Radach fought a hard fight, and there’s no question as to his skills even with this loss. Of course, when the announcer’s booth tried to sell me on the idea that Radach was a top 5 middleweight in the world, I had to swallow hard to contain the vomit that had tried to leap out of my mouth. I am not looking forward to hearing them try to sell me the same story about Smith now.
And finally Gilbert Melendez did his part to stay relevant and keep on the path to his lightweight belt. Beating Damm was a good start, but it will be interesting to see if Melendez can return to his former top-5 form in the long run.
In the meantime, Strikeforce has the opportunity to start doing what the beginning of this article was lamenting about in the first place: promotion. They now have a bunch of interesting new narratives to form, and if they are smart about it, they may be able to draw us all into their drama again. Yes Oliver, you can have some more.