Closing down Strikeforce could bolster depleted UFC roster
Another Strikeforce fighter has tested positive for a banned substance.
Former light heavyweight champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante has been fined $2,500 USD and suspended one year by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) for a positive test result which occurred after his 33-second win over Mike Kyle.
As always seems to be the case, his manager, Ed Soares, has stated they’ll challenge the suspension, and believes his fighter is innocent.
“Feijao” is the second former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion to produce a positive test this year, as Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal was suspended earlier this year following a positive test in January. He has since been released from the organisation, and signed a dual professional wrestling/MMA contract with Bellator and Impact Wrestling.
With “King Mo” already gone, and “Feijao” facing at least 9 months on the sidelines, the light heavyweight division that was once Strikeforce’s strongest has been reduced to Gegard Mousasi and a handful of middle tier talents.
The heavyweight division has already been dissolved, though Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett remain and will fight once more for the organisation before Cormier heads to the UFC; no word yet on whether Barnett will make the trip to the biggest brand in the sport as well.
Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson are the lone intriguing entities in the lightweight division, and though they’ve already fought three times, most recently on May 19, a second consecutive fight between the two is the only real interesting match-up out there right now.
While Luke Rockhold will defend his middleweight title next month against Tim Kennedy, and Tyron Woodley will battle UFC cast-off Nate Marquardt for the vacant welterweight strap on the same night, those two divisions are relatively thin as well. Truthfully, the whole company is lacking depth, from lightweight through light heavyweight, and including the female ranks as well.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because with the UFC struggling to keep a fight card intact and stars dropping like flies due to injuries, wouldn’t now be a great time to pull the plug on Strikeforce, and bring the few remaining talents in that organisation into the Octagon to inject some intrigue back into a summer schedule that has taken a serious beating in recent weeks?
Bringing over fighters like Melendez, Rockhold, and Mousasi would create a buzz that the UFC’s current line-up is lacking at the moment, and create fresh match-ups that fans could actually get excited for. Plus, it would give the UFC the chance to capitalize on the burgeoning stardom of women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in a one-off bout if they so desired.
People would surely be more interested in seeing Rousey defend her title against Sarah Kaufman in the main event of the next FOX show than watching Mauricio “Shogun” Rua take on Brandon Vera, who has been on the sidelines for the last seven months.
A three-pack of Rousey-Kaufman, Rua-Vera, and Lyoto Machida versus Ryan Bader – which is currently the co-main event of the August 4 show – would be much better than the current line-up, and could deliver much stronger ratings than the last two shows the UFC ran with their network television partner.
Additionally, bringing over the bulk of the Strikeforce roster means the UFC doesn’t have to keep going out and signing mediocre regional talent as fill-ins for fighters that need to be replaced.
For example, when Jon Fitch was forced out of his bout with Aaron Simpson, the UFC could have tabbed someone like Jordan Mein, a promising welterweight prospect, to replace the former title challenger, rather than call on Kenny Robertson, an 11-1 regional vet who was TKO’ed by Mike Pierce at UFC 126 back in February 2011, and has only fought once since.
While Strikeforce has a solid card scheduled for mid-July, there is nowhere to go after that. The 18 fighters on the card are among the top 25 in the organisation, with pretty much only Melendez, Thomson, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and the injured Mousasi remaining out of action.
Sure you can match-up some of the winners and losers, but I can’t see a long-term future for the company and its cast of fighters at this point, so why not spread some of these fights and fighters into the depleted collection of UFC events on the horizon?
The UFC gets an influx of talent and solid bouts that people might actually want to see, and the Strikeforce fighters who have an indefinite future beyond their next fight can start looking ahead to bigger and brighter as a part of the UFC roster. It’s a win-win situation.
With the watered-down line-ups and rogue’s gallery of regional talents being recruited to the UFC of late, why are more accomplished, more skilled, and more recognizable talents being left to die a slow death under the Strikeforce banner?
Follow The Roar’s UFC Expert E. Spencer Kyte on Twitter (@spencerkyte).