Strikeforce all but dead?
By NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency
|Following a January event, Strikeforce fighters are expected to join the UFC roster. In a historic move, this would also include the organization’s female competitors. Strikeforce women’s 135-pound titleholder (Rowdy) Ronda Rousey (top) is slated to be crowned the first-ever UFC women’s bantamweight champion. (Reuters/Showtime/Handout)
It appears Strikeforce’s planned January card won’t signal the organization’s return from a lengthy hiatus, but rather its funeral.
TMZ first reported that Strikeforce and UFC parent company, Zuffa, LLC, has reached an agreement with Showtime to cease Strikeforce promotion in early 2013. The news has since been confirmed by multiple media organizations, including Yahoo, MMA Junkie and MMA Fighting.
Strikeforce’s demise is hardly a shocking development, as the promotion cancelled two planned cards in September and November due to main events falling apart.
Neither UFC president Dana White, nor UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta have commented on the agreement with Showtime. However, when news first broke, White simply tweeted, “:)”
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the move would result in one last event. All four men’s title belts are expected to be defended on the mega-card, which is currently scheduled for Jan. 12 in Oklahoma City.
If all goes according to plan, lightweight champ Gilbert (El Nino) Melendez will take on Pat (Bam Bam) Healy, middleweight titleholder Luke Rockhold will face Lorenz (The Monsoon) Larkin, welterweight kingpin Nate (The Great) Marquardt will meet Tarec (Sponge) Saffiedine, and heavyweight grand prix winner Daniel Cormier will battle Dion (The Soldier) Staring.
Following the event, Strikeforce fighters are expected to join the UFC roster. In a historic move, this would also include the organization’s female competitors. Strikeforce women’s 135-pound titleholder (Rowdy) Ronda Rousey is slated to be crowned the first-ever UFC women’s bantamweight champion.
A 2008 Olympic judo bronze medal winner, Rousey quickly became the face of women’s MMA by viciously dispatching opponents with her trademark armbar.
In March, she dethroned Miesha (Cupcake) Tate before defending her title against B.C.’s Sarah Kaufman. Combining both amateur and professional bouts, Rousey holds nine victories, all by first-round armbar.
As a result of her killer instincts in the cage, and charisma and beauty outside of it, Rousey’s star has been steadily on the rise. She appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s body issue, was a guest on Conan O’Brien’s talk show and became the first female fighter to stop by The Ultimate Fighter house.
For years, White said he didn’t expect women to compete in the UFC any time soon, citing a lack of depth in the divisions. But he quickly took a liking to Rousey, even recently stating she would be the first woman to fight in the UFC.
“This isn’t breaking news,” White told Yahoo Sports last month. “I’ve been saying for months that this was absolutely going to happen.
“Look, I know a lot of people are going to say we’re doing this because she’s pretty,. But Gina (Carano) was pretty, too. Ronda is a whole other story. She’s nasty. She’s a real fighter. She not only likes to win, she likes to finish. Think about this: Everyone she fights knows what is coming, that armbar of hers, and no one can stop it. They have a whole f---ing training camp to prepare for that one move and nobody has been able to stop it yet.
“People who are nasty and technically sound and have that attitude, I love them.”
White has also praised Tate, 2004 Olympic freestyle-wrestling silver medal winner Sara McMann and former Strikeforce women’s featherweight champ Cris (Cyborg) Santos. He recently expressed interest in seeing Santos drop to 135 pounds to challenge Rousey.
Following the news of Strikeforce’s demise, Tate took to her Twitter account to congratulate Rousey.
“If the rumors r true that @rondarousey has signed to the @ufc then I’d like to congratulate her & I’m happy our rematch will be in the #UFC,” Tate wrote.
“So Stoked to be fighting for the @ufc it’s been a dream of mine for along time! SO happy it’s finally come true:-D”
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