It’s been a couple weeks since Dana White implied a deal with Strikeforce was about to either go through or fall apart. Yet here we are still waiting to find out what the fate of the promotion will be. Part of that has to be because Showtime just replaced their head sports honcho. General meddler and Dana White nemesis Ken Hershman is out, boxing lawyer Stephen Espinoza is in. While most of Espinoza’s clients were boxers or boxing promoters, he’s also represented Gina Carano. So read into that what you will.
You can read into this whatever you want as well: it sounds like the UFC wants to scrap their women’s 145 pound division. Here’s Cris Cyborg talking about it:
You were commenting you got a new four-bout contract with Strikeforce. What are your expectations?
I signed the contract for these four fights after UFC purchased Strikeforce, so I guess they’ll keep us, they’ll keep the female divisions and female MMA keeps growing and growing, and I guess they’re keeping the girls, and it depends on what we do to call UFC’s attention.
There two divisions and they want to unify it to a single female division. In that case you’d have to lose a lot of weight. How do you see it?
Actually there’re still two weight divisions: 135lbs and 145lbs. It’s already hard for me to drop to 145lbs, I gotta work a lot and they’re thinking about one division only, they asked me if I could do it. I can try, it’s not impossible. Let’s see… I guess that, in the future, there’ll be some news.
It’d be good for you to have more opponents to fight against, right?
It’ll be hard because I got a lot of weight to lose, but it’d be good because I could fight more. I guess it’s important to keep active, it’s my job, so I’ll try it to stay here.
So why would the UFC bother to make plans regarding their women’s divisions (even destructive plans like this!) if they weren’t going to stick around? Well, it could just be them going through the motions so when this whole deal falls apart they can honestly say they were preparing to continue in good faith. Or maybe the guys at Zuffa just like the idea of forcing women onto diets.
Meanwhile, Strikeforce ratings aren’t exactly skyrocketing. Other than that World Grand Prix semi-final that performed shittily, it’s been all Challenger events going down in flames. And last Friday’s event was the worst yet!
The November 18th event — headlined by Lumumba Sayers vs. Antwain Britt and Ronda Rousey vs. Julia Budd — drew an average of just 143,000 viewers — the lowest in the history of the series and a drop of 60,000 viewers from their September 23rd Challengers event that featured Lorenz Larkin vs. Nick Rossborough and Lavar Johnson vs. Shawn Jordan.
Challengers shows are doomed to begin with. Strikeforce is already considered a second tier organization. Who wants to watch the second tier of the second tier? Now you know my girl Ronda Rousey was on that card and I got mad love for her. So this isn’t a knock against the fighters on these cards … just a frank assessment of how these events are perceived.
Continuing on the line of frank assessments, the UFC has also gotten some heat for appearing to drop the ball on promoting several events during the leadup and aftermath of the big UFC on FOX deal. Here’s Dana White admitting that promotion has been a bit FUBAR lately:
What you guys have to understand is we’re in this weird place right now we’re leaving our old deal, moving into the new deal. we’re in this huge crazy transition period. And all the things that would be going on on our old network would be helping this fight.
We’re going to have a rocky end of the year here. And we knew that was going to happen. We were expecting it.We’re putting on great fights, it’s going to be a great end of the year as far as fights go but it feels weird to everybody, like you said it doesn’t feel like there’s buzz and this and that.
There’s a reason for that. There’s a formula for everything that we’ve done over the six years while we were on Spike. And that’s all changing now. It’s all completely different. Everything that used to happen isn’t happening. So there’s gonna be this wierd transition period. That’s why i’m just looking forward to January and getting all this stuff rolling.