November’s Strikeforce event in Oklahoma City is nigh approaching, and still Daniel Cormier has no one to smash with his giant, lonely hands. That scraping sound you hear is the bottom of the barrel; recently, one Twitter user went so far as to suggest that Cormier fight Bobby Lashley.
Showing his characteristic concern for other people’s feelings, White responded with “lol.” Cormier also seemed not to take the suggestion seriously, saying that “people jumped on me for mentioning [Pat Barry] now u guys want me to fight bobby. It’ll get done. Be patient.”
So yes: Bobby Lashley is just an internet meme now, like Chuck Norris or love. And while we know no more about who will fight Cormier next, we’re still hearing from the guys who won’t. In an interview with Stephanie Daniels, Matt Mitrione explained why he turned down the match:
“He has Olympic-level wrestling, and although I have spent a great deal of time working on my wresting, I don’t feel it would be my best fight back after such a long layoff. Wrestling is, by far, my weakest skill. I’m working hard on my wrestling, but it would be a huge weakness against me in a short-notice fight against Cormier.”
In addition to displaying a remarkable level of self-awareness, Mitrione might be offering us a glimpse of why Zuffa has taken so long to find Cormier an opponent. Send him a flashy striker who is not in the UFC contender picture—let’s call this theoretical person Bat Perry—and you risk further tarnishing the Strikeforce brand. Match Cormier against a weak wrestler, and you encourage him to fight the sort of fight casual fans don’t like. Put another strong wrestler in there, and you guarantee it.
So it’s a conundrum. In a more vital fight promotion, the problem would be solved by a competitive division and a roster of contenders. When the champion fights a legitimate contender, it tends to sell itself, but Strikeforce doesn’t have legitimate contenders. They all went to the UFC—where Cormier would probably be, if he hadn’t gone and won that stupid tournament. Now White needs to find a meaningful opponent for a talented athlete trapped in a meaningless promotion. Or he needs to write an enormous check to Andrei Arlovski, and Dana White hates that.
(Dan Brooks runs Combat Blog, one of the bestest political commentary blogs on the net. Think Fightlinker but more class and slightly less fart jokes. He was our September guest blogger but because we’re always a little slow on starting everything up we’ve got a few extra October days to enjoy his MMA pontifications. I hope you enjoy them and don’t forget to check out his site!)