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Strikeforce Should NOT Directly Challenge UFC 106 with Fedor

Michael Rome over at Bloody Elbow thinks it would be a sound business decision for Strikeforce to put Fedor’s debut show head-to-head with UFC 106 on November 21st. You know, the same show that features Brock Lesnar and Tito Ortiz competing on the same card. Before you start googling Rome’s name so you can throw tomatoes at his house, let’s give the guy a chance to lay out his reasoning. From Bloody Elbow:

…When [the UFC] did a live event against the first Affliction, Affliction got far more press than it ever would have on its own, and the show blew away industry expectations on PPV by nearly 80%.

What they should do is be proud of their product and put it up against UFC 106 in November.  Showtime can easily advertise the fact that you have a simple choice that night: you can pay $50 to see a WWE superstar who doesn’t even know how to fight, or you can see the greatest fighter in MMA history on Showtime.  Sure it’s manipulative, but it’s no worse than what Dana’s been doing to Fedor for years now.

If they do that, there will be a mountain of press covering the entire Fedor vs. Brock situation, and who is the more legitimate champion.  And whose side do you think most reporters are going to come down on?

Rome makes an interesting point with the Affliction example, but his argument still fails. While the fact that the UFC scheduled a show the same night as Banned no doubt awarded Affliction some press, I wouldn’t go as far to say that that was the main contributing factor to the show’s success. The card was essentially a hardcore fan’s wet dream at the time, comparable to anything the UFC puts on. As a result, it was bought by a large audience of hardcore fans, many of whom started following the sport so closely only after the UFC boom of 2005. Sure, the programming war added some buzz to the show, but there is also no way of knowing what the numbers would have been had the show not been aired the same night as a UFC event.

Strikeforce holding such a landmark show the same night as one of the UFC’s biggest shows of the year is absolutely, positively not a good idea. Drinking a half gallon of whiskey and playing $100 high card for hours on end would probably be a better financial decision. Spending the night roasting marshmallows and money would probably be a better financial decision. Asking “>Rufus the Stunt Bum for investment advice would probably be a better financial decision. Alright, I’ll stop.

The fact is that the vast majority of MMA fans in this country are essentially UFC fans. On top of that, Lesnar and Ortiz are two of the biggest draws in the history of the organization and the sport. Strikeforce would essentially be cutting out a major portion of their audience by putting the show against UFC 106 as most fans are going to tune in to see the latter.

In short, any potential increase in buzz from the counterprogramming situation will be heavily outweighed by the loss. There are other ways for Strikeforce to market this show — and Fedor specifically — without putting it head-to-head with the big giant that is the UFC.