After a 21-year run, Strikeforce promotions will disappear on Saturday night with its last event taking place at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City. It’s currently the No. 2 MMA promotion in North America.
Strikeforce was kept alive by Zuffa, who purchased the company in March 2011, due to the brand’s contract with Showtime. The deal made sense at the time because Showtime wanted MMA in the hopes of building its subscriber base. The conjoined groups soon realized the deal wasn’t profitable because of the contracts and Strikeforce was simply hanging on for the last few months since the last event back in August. The announcement came three weeks ago with little surprise to anyone.
Scott Coker created the Strikeforce brand name in San Jose, Calif., back in 1992, first as a kickboxing promotion that had a deal with ESPN 2. The brand eventually switched to mixed martial arts in 2006.
Over the years Strikeforce churned out plenty of talent, the best of whom was probably Gilbert Melendez. Melendez was the company’s second lightweight champion, after he beat Clay Guida for the belt in what turned out to be one of the signature matches. There were many other quality fighters to fight for the company over the years including Fedor Emelianenko, Ronda Rousey and Frank Shamrock.
“We had an awesome thing. It was five people running the whole thing. It was the smallest group of people in the world going against the largest army and we did wonderful things,” Shamrock, who is now a color commentator for Showtime Networks, told MMAfighting.com.
UFC has a stranglehold on the market and continues to destroy anything that stands in its way. Several of Strikeforce’s fighters will likely attempt to make the switch over to UFC.