Wow! Can you believe it’s finally here? After all the hype, the constant breakdowns on Sports Center and the front page stories in USA Today, finally the second half of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix is upon us.
I know there are some people that will just tune in for the commercials, but let’s not forget there are two pretty good fights on the card. Showtime’s decision to have 5 hours of Pre-Fight programming may be a surprise to some, but when you have an event like the Grand Prix, you have to do it right. At 2pm will be the “EA Sports MMA” breakdown hosted by Roy Firestone. During the hour broadcast, both of the Grand Prix fights will be fought on a PS3 to give viewers an idea of what may happen later that night. Fans will be invited to play along at home via the very safe PS3 network.
At 3pm James Brown will begin the three hour Pre-Fight show. This should be great as Showtime looks back at the year in MMA, plus welcomes fighters and celebrities alike as they arrive to the arena. James Brown will be joined by Chuck Norris and “The Perfect Weapon” Jeff Speakman.
At 6pm Brown will throw it down to the broadcast booth where Mauro Ranallo, Pat Miletich and Stephen Quadros will get us ready for the Grand Prix. Congrats to Showtime who will use 34 cameras and 37 microphones to get us as close to the action as possible. It’s rare when the event lives up to the hype, but there is no way we will be let down by the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix!
What? That’s not the way it’s going to happen? There is no Pre-Fight show, just re-runs of the brutal Matt Leblanc show Episodes? Why no Pre-Fight show? This is the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix!
You don’t get a Starter windbreaker unless it’s a big event, and all eight guys fighting in the Grand Prix got windbreakers, so you can understand my confusion.
All kidding aside, it’s a drag that an event that had so much potential has as much buzz as a Shark Fights card tape delayed on Fuel.
When Scott Coker announced the launch of the Grand Prix, many people looked at it as a great way to lock Strikeforce in as a legit #2 promotion. Nobody expected SF to over-run the UFC, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a little competition.
The 8 man tournament that would feature names like Overeem, Arlovski, Barnett and Fedor seemed like a good way to do it. When it was announced people were excited, but now after delays and the sale of Strikeforce to the UFC, Saturday’s card has the buzz of your local Motley Crue tribute band playing the dive-bar on the corner.
I like the fights. I want to see current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champ Alistair Overeem fight the first guy to bet Fedor, Fabrico Werdum. I have to admit I was more excited to see it in April, but I will still be watching.
Brett Rogers vs. Josh Barnett could be an exciting fight, but is Barnett licensed to fight yet? As of last week he wasn’t, and while Coker and Barnett may claim it isn’t going to be a problem, this is Strikeforce. Barnett claims that he has filled out all the paperwork and supplied his blood work as required by the state, but what happens if he can’t get licensed? Does Rogers get a bye? Does Daniel Cormier get bumped up? Am I really this interested to think about all of these scenarios?
There’s no question that all the guys on this card have their eyes on the UFC. Who can blame them? The UFC is where the money and fame is, and now all of these guys are in sense UFC fighters.
There will be no front page stories, or red carpet arrivals this week, but there still should be a couple of good fights. I say that feeling like the guy who takes his old dog for a walk knowing sooner rather than later the old dog is going to be gone for good.
The WEC left us with some of the best fights in the promotion’s history, can Strikeforce do the same? We’ll find out Saturday even without the presence of Jeff Speakman.