Jorge Gurgel. Photo by Esther Lin/AllElbows.com.
Since Strikeforce's inception five years ago, the promotion has booked its preliminary undercard fights using mostly amateur matchups and professional bouts involving fighters that were signed to a one-off contract.
With a roster steadily growing as rapidly as the organization itself, Strikeforce has continued to do much of the same, sans one or two meaningful fights during the last handful of events, all while some fighters under contract are complaining about lack of fights and in a few cases, leaving the promotion completely.
Showtime is content to only air main card fights during their Strikeforce telecasts. A relationship with HDNet was rekindled for the undercard of "Fedor vs. Silva" last month and could be used again in the near future. In order to satisfy their burgeoning roster of fighters, wouldn't it be in Strikeforce's best interest to start booking some fighters for televised prelim bouts, televised or not?
I think so.
Jorge Gurgel was the most recent case of a regular Strikeforce fighter being relegated to the preliminary portion of a card, which took place last weekend at "Feijao vs. Henderson". He wasn't too happy about it, but after dropping two straight fights, it's a case of 'it is what it is' in a way. However, Gurgel was essentially placed there because the event took place in Columbus, Ohio and Gurgel is a resident of Cincinatti.
Prior to that, Strikeforce's trip to Houston last year was also the last time in which regular appearing Strikeforce fighters took precedence on an undercard for relevant fights.
I'm shedding light on the issue because of the following. In the last couple of months, Jay Hieron and Joe Rigsg have both left Strikeforce because of a lack of use. Lyle Beerbohm, Vitor Ribeiro and Tim Kennedy have all complained of the same. And now, Cris "Cyborg" Santos, arguably Strikeforce's most popular women's fighter and a proven draw, is now rumored to be considering a jump to World Wrestling Entertainment.
Brett Rogers will have gone an entire year without fighting under the Strikeforce banner in June, while Ovince St. Preux competed three times in a three-month span starting this past November.
With a mass exodus of fighters from Japan now making their way overseas, Strikeforce's roster is only going to continue to expand. The promotion has new-found momentum from the kickoff of its heavyweight grand prix tournament in February and doesn't need to hurt it in having a notable fighter such as Hieron or Riggs bolt to a competitor like Bellator or the UFC that offers a more consistent schedule.
The moral of the story is that Strikeforce should start using the preliminary portion of their cards to help satisy the needs of their current roster instead of wasting time promoting amateur fights and professional debuts. I have nothing personal against either, but those kind of things are suited for smaller organizations, not a promotion that is quickly becoming a strong alternative to the UFC.
In addition, meaningful preliminary fights will only help Strikeforce build up-and-coming prospects, something that the "Challengers" series is doing, but not all that often and certainly not in a helpful quanity.
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