Back in April the NSAC approved a small show’s request for doing a two round tournament on one night. At the time I was young and naive, and thought perhaps this could mean the UFC-owned PRIDE would be able to continue it’s Grand Prix in America now. Oh, stupid me. But all hope is not lost … it looks like Strikeforce is hearing the call of every PRIDE fanboy on the internet and is bringing back tournaments:
Scott Coker, who promoted numerous tournaments when he helped promote K-1 kickboxing shows, will stage a four-man tournament to determine the No. 1 challenger for the Strikeforce middleweight title on Nov. 16 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Coker said he has signed Joe Riggs (27-9) and Niko Vitale (24-7) to compete in the tournament and is working on landing two others.
“It is my hope that the winner can fight Frank, and I’ve talked with him about that,” Coker said.
Coker said Strikeforce plans to use the tournament format extensively going forward. He said he plans to have tournaments for the heavyweight and lightweight titles sometime in 2008.
I’ve always been a fan of tournaments … sure they often create unfair finals between a fresh fighter and an exhausted fighter. And sure, it’s easy to skew the results however you want by matching the guy you want to win against a pushover in the first round. But you just can’t beat the drama and excitement of having guys fight more than once over the night. Plus, it’s for the belt which means you get to see all of a promotion’s best fighters in one weight class over the night.
Of course, there’s some problems with Strikeforce’s plans. First, they’re crossing their fingers and hoping Frank Shamrock agrees to fight whoever wins. Frank already seems to have his mind made up that he wants to fight Renzo Gracie again in the spring, so given his slow schedule that might mean the winner of this tournament may be stuck twiddling his thumbs until this time next year. And that’s IF Frank Shamrock decides the winner is worthy of fighting him.
Second, because you’re stacking a card with all your top names in a weight class it’s gonna be a pretty expensive card. Plus you need to have decent depth across several weight classes in order to still have talent to fill your other cards with. Finally, you always run the risk of everyone injuring eachother and having some dude win the tournament by default. Tournaments are a wild and unpredictable thing … you never know what’s gonna happen. That’s why it’s great as a casual fan to see.
Me, I just hope the legitimacy of the tournament system isn’t smashed because Frank Shamrock doesn’t feel like fighting whoever wins.