A Fond Farewell: The Six Most Memorable Moments in Strikeforce History



In what comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone with a double-digit I.Q. or higher, Strikeforce will reportedly put the final nail in the coffin after their next event, which is currently scheduled for January 2013. Like any good friend, we tried to talk them out of their appointment with Dr. Kevorkian. Sadly, our friend just could not be reasoned with, leaving us no other options — we have to prepare for the funeral.

Here at CagePotato HQ (read: my desk at work when the boss is in the crapper), we feel it only necessary to start writing the eulogy now, while the memories are still vivid, in an attempt to bring comfort to the grieving family and friends when the time comes. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we, and look back fondly at the most memorable moments in Strikeforce’s storied mixed martial arts history.

Frank Shamrock Gets a Friendly Stockton Greeting From Nick Diaz

In the spring of 2009, Strikeforce served up a hot matchup between former UFC champion and MMA legend Frank Shamrock and the future Strikeforce Welterweight champion and world-renowned trash talker Nick Diaz. As you can glean from the above photo and the ensuing nut grab you can see on YouTube at roughly the 3:23 mark, these two were about as cordial as a Kentucky Derby winner who had just spotted Alistair Overeem waiting in the stable with a knife and fork.

The remarkable thing about the whole ordeal was that Diaz remained true to himself at the risk of coming across as a disrespectful punk, not willing to play nice simply to placate other people, even if they did sign his paycheck. In all of the press conferences that have been held over the years, fighters have generally been pretty calm and polite — so much so that you have to wonder if they realize that the guy they’re shaking hands with is the same guy who’s getting paid to cave his face in come fight night. Not the Stockton, Calif. native, though, who’s about as subtle as he is media friendly. You’ll never have to guess what the Cesar Gracie product is thinking. This classic photo by Esther Lin is a reminder of just that.

Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg, The Biggest Women’s Fight In History

Before Ronda Rousey stole Dana’s heart, before Bellator ever had a woman’s tournament, and before Invicta FC ever promoted an entire fight card with nothing but female combatants, there was Gina Carano. The world loved her after being introduced to her on the revamped American Gladiators as “Crush.” From there she went on to become one of the most searched for people of the year — being named in Maxim‘s Top 20 Hot List didn’t hurt either. To say that the future Hollywood starlet had a following is a bit of an understatement. The buxom brunette was more than just a pretty face though, sporting an impressive 7-0 record heading into the inaugural Strikeforce women’s featherweight championship fight against the roid-fueled always-game Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.

I’m a firm believer that more people were interested in seeing Carano fight than they were in WMMA. That being said, it doesn’t change the facts. Scott Coker had big brass balls to promote an MMA event with two women’s names on the marquee and broadcast it on Showtime to boot. At the time, no one had any real sense of how successful the ladies would be at selling tickets or drawing the coveted 18-34 year-old television viewers. That’s how it is when you’re blazing a trail.

The fight was lopsided and with literally only a second to spare in the first round, “Cyborg” punched her way to a TKO victory earning her a place in Strikeforce history as the first women’s champ. According to the events Wikipedia page, Coker’s gamble paid off.

The event averaged 576,000 viewers on the Showtime cable network. It peaked with 856,000 viewers for the night’s main event between Carano and Santos. The Carano vs. Cyborg event set a new MMA ratings record for Showtime, eclipsing a card headlined with Kimbo Slice and Tank Abbot, which averaged 522,000 viewers. It also more than doubled Strikeforce’s previous offering, Lawler vs. Shields, an event that averaged 275,000 viewers.

Arguably the Greatest Round in MMA: Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley

Lately, when the UFC kicks off another abominable installment of The Ultimate Fighter, they host a special two-hour (or more!) season premiere wherein all the hopefuls are cheered on as they drink donkey ejaculate paired off and given one five-minute round in the Octagon to prove their mettle. Sadly, most of the neanderthals that drag their knuckles up the cage steps aren’t particularity familiar with clocks or the concept of time.

Again and again, we see guys completely oblivious to the beating they’ve been dished out and are content to clean their plate. All the while Dana and Lorenzo are baffled that the kids don’t just go for broke, swing for the fences, something (anything!) instead of pulling guard or playing patty-cake. In short, the fights to enter the TUF house are the polar opposite of the championship bout between Nick Diaz and Paul “Semtex” Daley.

These two welterweight bad boys had no intentions of leaving the opening frame, let alone leaving it in the hands of the judges. Fists flew with ill ambition. Caution was not only thrown to the wind, it had a jetpack strapped to its back and shot out of a cannon. If you didn’t know any better, you might’ve thought they were told the loser of the bout would have to spend a year in jail with War Machine because neither man seemed to conserve energy for the “championship rounds” — instead opting to kick it into high gear when the tide shifted in their favor.

This one round is a casual fan converter. Have your buddy from work/gym/AA meetings watch this and soon you’ll only have to pay half price for the next PPV.

Zuffa Purchases Strikeforce

The beginning of the end for the San Jose-based fight promotion came as a shocker to many in the MMA business. One fateful March morning, all was the same as it had always been, with Strikeforce chugging along in the massive shadow cast by the juggernaut that is the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Then suddenly, the game got switched as Dana White and Co. added another name to their list of conquests. Cries of “business as usual” notwithstanding, the nineteen months since have been anything but. Without a doubt, this moment has forever changed the landscape of MMA and is one of the more memorable in all of the sport’s history — not just Strikeforce’s.

(Photo via Sherdog)

The Last Emperor is Dethroned: Fabricio Werdum Subs Fedor Emelianenko

Man + Myth + Legend = Fedor. Luck + 1 soul traded to Satan = Werdum.

Emelianenko, much like the Titanic, was quite the spectacle to behold back in the day. The media lauded them heavily for reasons both real and imagined. And, as history records it, both ended up sinking despite the popular notion that both were invincible.

Going into the fight, “The Last Emperor” was high atop a 31-1 record; not losing a fight in over a decade — and even that sole loss was due to an illegal blow. (Not exactly a “defeat,” right champ?) For the record, Werdum was no slouch; his only loss in the previous two years came at the hands of current UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. Still, no one thought the reigning ADCC heavyweight champ had a chance to defeat the legendary Fedor, let alone finish him barely a minute into the first round. To put into perspective just how unlikely of an outcome this was, just take a look at the betting line.

Such a monumental shift in paradigm made for an incredibly historic night. I’m not sure the words “Holy Sh*t!” have ever been uttered by so many people at once. It’s been said that crews working in the International Space Station a whopping 220 miles above Earth’s surface could hear those two words. No matter how old you get or how shot your mind is, if you were an MMA fan in 2010 you will forever recall the night Fedor’s myth got busted.

Strikeforce Nashville Brawl by snakerattle79

‘Strikeforce: Nashville’ Brawl Broadcast Live on CBS

When you watch a fight on TV, no matter the combatants or their records, you know full well that anything can happen and that both men have a chance of winning — however small it may be. Even Fabricio Werdum had a chance, albeit not a good one, to upset Emelianenko. What happened in the final moments of the Strikeforce: Nashville event was not even in the realm of possibility. It had absolutely zero chance of happening — and yet it did.

The infamous picture of Nick Diaz (man, he sure has been talked about a lot today) drawing back his fist, mean mug in full effect, is the image that nearly every fight fan conjures up when discussing the biggest black eye on the sport. My colleague Jared Jones has already covered the ins and outs of this epic post-fight confrontation, eliminating the need to rehash the details here, but no way could this list be complete without the most electrifying, controversial, ridiculous, and horrifying moment in the six-plus-year history of Strikeforce MMA. For those who get it, no further explanation is needed. For those who don’t, no explanation will suffice.


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