Not so fast on UFC-Strikeforce crossover talk
With Thursday’s news that former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir would be making an appearance under the Strikeforce banner to compete against Daniel Cormier in that company’s final heavyweight bout, a lot of people have started to get excited about the possibility of other UFC stars following suit.
Hold your horses, folks.
While I certainly believe that both the UFC and Strikeforce could benefit from the realignment of some talent, don’t expect proven UFC competitors to be making “one night only” appearances in the Strikeforce cage with any kind of regularity any time soon.
The Mir situation works because regardless of the outcome, both he and Cormier will have their next bout inside the Octagon. With the heavyweight division closing up shop, and no titles to worry about, Mir can seamlessly transition to Strikeforce for a single headlining turn. He can come back to the organisation he’s called home since the third fight of his career without any hurdles to clear.
You can’t do that in other divisions.
As much as I would love to see someone like Gray Maynard slide over to Strikeforce and challenge lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, a man desperately in need of better competition, it’s not going to happen.
I can’t see Maynard – or anyone else for that matter – being interested in taking up residency alongside Melendez in purgatory, and that’s what would happen if he went over and beat “El Nino” for the belt. You couldn’t have him just up and leave, vacating the belt in the process, so there isn’t likely to be any Frank Mir types making their way across company lines into the four men’s divisions that Strikeforce continues to promote.
That’s not to say there aren’t some avenues to explore in the area, however.
I still believe it benefits the UFC to siphon off some of their talent from various divisions; the roster is bloated right now, and parring things down in some places would allow them to add more talent on the lighter end of the scale where it’s needed.
Additionally, you don’t have to simply cut fighters and send them to the regional circuit.
Give them the option of going to Strikeforce. You think fighters aren’t going to accept a transfer to Strikeforce rather than move to the uncertainty and reduced pay of the regional circuit?
Along with knowing you’re going to get paid and keeping your benefits, fighters would have a shorter path to a higher profile title by accepting the offer to move to Strikeforce. While it may not be the UFC title, it’s certainly better than winning the welterweight belt for Wild Bill’s Fight Night.
This would be the one scenario where I could see any real meaningful movement of fighters from the UFC to Strikeforce happening, and there are more than a few athletes who would – in my opinion – make the switch.
As I said in my previous column, a guy like Thiago Alves would be a perfect candidate to change brands in my opinion. He’s 2-4 in his last six with the UFC, fallen out of the top 10 in the welterweight rankings, and would need to rattle off a lengthy winning streak to get back into the title picture.
But it’s not like he’s a scrub; Alves is still a talent fighter and a highly recognisable name. With his UFC pedigree and name value, “The Pitbull” would likely be able to move into an immediate “title eliminator” bout if he were to slide over to Strikeforce, a proposition that has to be better than kicking off a Fuel TV fight card against Charlie Brenneman or Paulo Thiago or someone even lower down the rankings.
Guys who have plateaued in the various divisions can get new life from a new address, and Strikeforce receives the influx of new talent it so desperately needs right now. UFC President Dana White has praised the promotional efforts put forth by Showtime recently, and with certified superstar Ronda Rousey still serving as a major attraction for Strikeforce and the network that airs their events, offering a helping hand in the form of surplus talent would seem to make sense.
Will it happen? I have my doubts, but that’s mainly because I’ve become weathered and cynical after spending too many hours trying to figure out the machinations of the fight industry over the last couple years.
I hope Frank Mir’s special appearance is just the first of many UFC-to-Strikeforce crossover moves, but for now, I’ll take the wait and see approach, and recommend you do the same.
Follow E. Spencer Kyte on Twitter (@spencerkyte).
Looking to join The Roar team? We're searching for an experienced Group Sales Manager to lead our team in Sydney. Yes, this does mean you get to work with the site all day long! If you're a digital media sales star, we want to hear from you. Apply now.