It was an exciting moment when I heard that Strikeforce was setting up a Heavyweight tournament involving some of the biggest names in the business.  Fedor Emelianenko was there.  The man who ended Fedor’s streak, Fabricio Werdum is in the brackets.  Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem is also scheduled to compete.

What’s not to be excited about with a tournament like that?

First and foremost, the left half of the bracket is stacked.  Fedor fights a guy nicknamed “Big Foot”, and the other Quarterfinal on his half of the bracket features the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, Alistair Overeem, taking on the guy who recently defeated Emelianenko to end Fedor’s 10 year unbeaten streak, Fabricio Werdum.   Likely Fedor will win his Quarterfinal fight, meaning this plays out like the matches would’ve happened without Strikeforce creating brackets and calling it a “tournament”, because he’ll either get the opportunity to avenge his loss to Werdum, or he’ll be the second top challenger Overeem will face.

The other half of the brackets could be seen as a “future challenger” section, helping to determine who deserves a title match down the road, and the finals would play out true to non-tournament bookings with one of those guys riding a two fight win streak en route to a fight with the champion.

Herein lies the huge problem with this tournament:  Overeem isn’t defending his championship.   Not in the quarterfinals.  Not in the semi-finals.  Not in the finals.  Nor would any of the guys, were they to beat Overeem.

The logic being used for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship not being on the line is that championship fights, by rule of some international MMA organization, have to be five rounds of five minutes each.  Strikeforce officials have deemed it unfair that the champion would have to potentially fight his way through two additional rounds each fight that his opponents didn’t have to endure during their trip to that given portion of the bracket, which gives them an unfair advantage.

So what?

If you take away the brackets, Werdum vs Overeem SHOULD be a Championship fight.  Werdum probably got lucky against Fedor, but he DID, in fact, beat Fedor Emelianenko.  Fedor should get a fight under his belt so he doesn’t just sit back and wait for a Werdum / Overeem winner, so why not put him up against Silva?  That’s as good as an opponent as any.  The guy is getting some decent hype (for a non-UFC guy), so make it happen.  Let Fedor get back on track.  Then it makes all the sense in the world that Fedor should fight for the title.  It shouldn’t be of concern that the winner of Werdum / Overeem had to potentially go 5 rounds and Fedor didn’t.  If you take away the brackets, that’s how it works either way.  Then, once the Fedor / Silva winner fights the Werdum / Overeem winner, another name needs to step up, and that’s where the other half of the bracket could come in.  Who cares how many rounds they were forced to go through to get there?  In the best possible scenario, the winner is only going to have taken 1 round to win each of his two fights to get to the championship fight anyway, and the championship matches are likely going to take at least 3 rounds each.

The Championship should be on the line throughout the tournament.  if they didn’t want to do that, I’m okay with Strikeforce having a tournament, but then if you look at the way the match ups were aligned, it makes no sense at all.  Essentially what they did was to take their top three seeds and put them all together.  Your final four will contain two of the lowest seeds and two of the highest seeds, and your finals will have one of each.  The  best scenario they can hope for in the finals is a top seed taking on the 5th seed.  If this were the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, you’d have the Top 8 seeds from each region setup to square off prior to the finals.  The Elite 8, best case scenario, would have 4 number one seeds on one side and four number 9 seeds on the other.

This tournament was a good idea, but the ideas that went in to determining the details doomed it to fail.  It’s a shame, because this was Strikeforce’s opportunity to set their Heavyweight Division apart as the best in the business.  At the very least they could establish that they had talent as good (or better) than what UFC currently has in the weight class.

The biggest winner in all of this:  Alistair Overeem.

No matter what, he’ll remain Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion into at least late Summer.

If he loses in the first round, his next opponent won’t be any of the other top talents.  If Fedor loses in his opening round contest, that could setup a fight between Emelianenko and Overeem, but they’d both be coming off of losses – for Fedor it would be two in a row, in which case he’s not nearly the same Fedor from a year ago who looked unbeatable.

If Overeem gets to the semi-finals and loses to either Fedor or Silva, there will be another year before a potential rematch, and he still has the title going into that rematch.

Provided that Alistair gets to the finals, if he loses, he’ll have another opportunity to fight that guy, and when the title is on the line, he’ll have already had the opportunity to study his opponent’s gameplan first hand, and the likelihood of him losing a second time is very small.

And to think, this “Grand Prix” tournament sounded so promising before I heard more of the details.