Even before my DVR would allow me to set it up to record, I was looking forward to Strikeforce’s night of MMA fights on CBS on November 7th.  Not only was I looking forward to seeing if they were a legit competitor to UFC, but I primarily wanted to see two of the fighters on the card.

First and foremost, I wanted to see Fedor Emelianenko – the man described as the best MMA fighter on the planet.  I’ve seen some YouTube clips of his fights, and I saw him in a Judo exhibition, but I had been told that Brett Rogers would put up a good fight – possibly enough to beat Fedor.  That wasn’t something I was really predicting would happen – and it didn’t – but I figured I’d get to see a good fight between a guy who’s a legend in the sport.

What I got was a good fight in which Fedor found himself in trouble a couple of times – skillfully slipping out of harms way before it was too late and working with a busted nose to stand toe-to-toe with a man who was 5 inches taller than him and out-weighed him by 32 pounds.  The fight ended with a right hand so hard that I had to rewind it to check it out again in slow-motion.

I’ll definitely be looking to watch more of Fedor in the future.

The other fighter I wanted to see was Gegard Mousasi taking on Sokoudjou.  I had heard a little bit about Sokoudjou, but I had heard quite a bit more about Mousasi – who hasn’t lost in the past 3 years, and only one of his 14 victories during that span have been by decision.   Although his fight with Sokoudjou went to the second round, Mousasi looks like he could’ve fought a lot longer, and when he moved in to finish the fight, you could see it coming a mile away.  Beautiful fight, and Mousasi is going to be added to the list of fighters I check out as often as possible just like Fedor.

I don’t know if Strikeforce is going to be able to compete with UFC for the top spot in MMA at this point, but they put on a good show.  Production values look good and they have some good fighters, but they’ll have to get on (non-Showtime) television more frequently if they want to compete with UFC, and they’ll have to find a way to combat The Ultimate Fighter – which churns out plenty of fighters every season that UFC fans can recognize wherever they end up on a card.  Even if Strikeforce gets young fighters who are better than UFC’s, they’ll have to find a way to get them into the MMA fans’ conscious, or else no one’s going to tune in to see them fight.  Other than Fedor, Mousasi and Carano, I have to really work hard to think of any other fighters in Strikeforce – which means I’m not likely to watch a fight card if I don’t recognize any names.  I recognize the name Cung Le and Robbie Lawler – both of whom are on the December 19th card, but at this point Lawler doesn’t even have an opponent announced.  I’ve heard of Alistair Overeem – the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion,  but it doesn’t look like he’s fought on a Strikeforce card in 2 years.  I saw Jake Shields take the Middleweight Title from Jason Miller on the Fedor vs Rogers show on CBS, but he wasn’t impressive enough to make me want to tune in again to see him fight for any other reason than it being a title fight (Jason Miller was actually more exciting to watch – but that’s primarily due to his flashy entrance).  Fabricio Werdum did fairly well in his showing on the show, but he’s not even a Top 10 fighter in his division, so he’s not much of a draw at this point.  They showed Shinya Aoki during the broadcast, but he’s listed as a DREAM fighter, and so unless Strikeforce is going to co-promote a show with DREAM, they’re going to have to sign some other fighters to seem like a competitor to UFC.  If they can get Dan Henderson, that would be a start, but there’s plenty of room left to go from there.

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