Nate “The Great” Marquardt will headline the last Strikeforce event. | Esther Lin/Showtime
When the “Smartest Guy at the Bar” series started dropping knowledge with the hope that the information would win somebody free drinks at their local watering hole, Strikeforce events seemed like inevitable additions to the usual pay-per-view experience.
Sometimes things do not go according to plan in MMA, as it appears Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena will host Strikeforce’s 63rd and final show on Saturday, the promotion following the International Fight League, Pride Fighting Championships, Affliction and the white buffalo into extinction. Ironically, the final Strikeforce broadcast falls in line with Showtime’s free preview weekend, giving viewers a chance to sample a fight promotion they can never watch again. Somewhere, Strikeforce founder Scott Coker is shuddering on the back nine. The man has had a lot of time on his hands lately.
How We Got Here: The promotion’s swan song was supposed to deliver a fight card worthy of Fourth of July fireworks, but injuries turned this celebration into little more than snakes and sparklers on your driveway. Originally dubbed Strikeforce “Champions,” the show was to feature four title fights on the main card. In the end, only Nate Marquardt’s welterweight strap will be up for grabs, as he takes on Team Quest’s Tarec Saffiedine. Journeyman-turned-contender Pat Healy was finally going to get his due in a title bout against 155-pound champion Gilbert Melendez, until “El Nino” was bitten by the injury bug. Luke Rockhold was set to defend his middleweight championship against Lorenz Larkin, but the oft-injured American Kickboxing Academy standout was forced to bow out yet again. Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix finalists Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett will get, well, let’s just call them opponents.
Magic Number: 147: the number of days between Strikeforce events. The last time the six-sided cage made an appearance was Aug. 18 in San Diego.
After Ronda Rousey got “Rowdy” with Sarah Kaufman’s arm, the San Jose, Calif.-based promotion found itself on a roller coaster bound for nowhere. Twice Strikeforce attempted to put on another show in 2012 and twice it failed, first on Sept. 29 and again on Nov. 3.
Hell hath no fury like White when he has a main event dropout on his hands. Luckily for the former middleweight King of Pancrase, the UFC boss seems to be in a forgiving mood. Win or lose against Saffiedine, Marquardt will likely get to hear Bruce Buffer call his name again inside the Octagon.
Useless Fact: Ed Herman will become the first and last active UFC fighter to compete in the Strikeforce cage when he battles former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo Souza. The UFC flirted with the idea of bringing over choice pieces of its roster for Strikeforce champions unable to get homegrown competition. Melendez has been twiddling his thumbs waiting for a noteworthy challenger, while Zuffa had designs on bringing over Frank Mir to face Cormier before a knee injury forced him to withdraw from a scheduled Nov. 3 bout. In the end, the UFC was asking its fighters to compete inside a smaller promotion in front of fewer fans with no pay-per-view cut in a fight that would not advance their run at UFC gold. Not difficult to turn down such a request.