Now that the dust has settled following the announcement that Strikeforce had reached deals with ProElite, Showtime and CBS, the attention is now focusing on their April 11 Showtime event.
Multiple reports surfaced this morning with all kinds of information regarding the event, and what additional match-ups may be on it. To start, when the announcement of the deal was made, it was reported that Frank Shamrock would be headlining the card. No opponent was named at the time, however, Five Oz. is now reporting his opponent is Nick Diaz. According to Caplan, the fight has been finalized and may be announced later today during a joint Strikeforce/Showtime conference call.
However, MMA Weekly also published a report earlier today regarding the main event among other things, and according to them, the fight isn’t set just yet. Apparently, Frank Shamrock wants to fight Tito Ortiz, but that doesn’t appear likely due to Tito’s remaining contractual ties to the UFC which are expected to end this summer, plus Tito is still recovering from back surgery. The report mentions Diaz, but Coker informed them the main event is still up in the air, and there’s only been “dialogue” between them and Diaz thus far.
I think it’s fairly obvious that Frank isn’t going to fight Tito on April 11, so a main event between Frank and Nick seems more likely than not. It’s definitely not a match-up I was expecting though. And honestly, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. Frank is a natural middleweight while Nick typically fights 160-170lbs, so Frank will certainly have a significant size advantage. It’s marketable though. Both fighters can sell a fight, even if Nick can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what isn’t.
Moving on, from the MMA Weekly report, it appears two rematches—Robbie Lawler vs. Joey Villasenor and Gilbert Melendez vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida—are possibilities, although the only confirmation thus far has come from Gilbert Melendez via GracieFighter.com. His opponent was not named.
It what seems to contradict yesterday’s report from Sherdog regarding Cris Cyborg, Coker left the door open for the Carano-Cyborg women’s mega-fight on April 11.
This week, Coker will meet with Gina Carano’s representatives to shore up a deal with Strikeforce and offer a spot on the first event. If negotiations go well, a much-anticipated fight between the star and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos may come to fruition.
“(Santos) has already sent me an email saying she wants to fight Gina and she’s ready to go, so we’ll offer her that fight,” said Coker.
I’m honestly a little surprised. I figured they would save this fight for CBS, although there’s always a rematch. Either way, I’m not going to complain. I just want to see them fight.
And then of course, there’s Kimbo Slice. Despite not having an contact with Kimbo’s management yet, Coker, not above the occasional freak show match, already has an opponent in mind for Kimbo—Bob Sapp. A passing of the freak show torch, if you will. It’s unclear at this point which event this fight would be booked for (possibly as early as May in Tacoma), but you can at least take comfort in knowing that it will not be a headlining bout.
Whenever Kimbo does fight again though, there’s one individual who won’t be in his corner—Bas Rutten. Here’s the explanation why is Bas’ own words.
I stopped training Kimbo. I had him six weeks before the last fight (a loss to Seth Petruzelli on October 4), I talked to him about certain things that I didn’t like, and he promised never to do it again, and then he started doing it again. If people come to me and ask me to train them, I want them to do what I tell them to do, because that’s what they came for. … Once you start doing different things, you’re out. It’s not because he got knocked out. This was already in progress long before the fight.
I would rather just leave it like this: Let’s say that the Kimbo who came to me at the beginning of training, that wasn’t the Kimbo who was at my gym the last time. Six weeks before his last fight, I told him, I want that Kimbo back. Otherwise, you’re out. And you know, he started doing differently again. Let’s just leave it like that. I don’t want to go into all the details. I wish him nothing but the best. Really, I really do.
After the fight. After the fight I didn’t talk to him anymore. It was pretty obvious — that was the last time. The fight was the last time.
I think it’s safe to say that bridge is burned. At one point, I actually had a little hope for Kimbo. With the right training, dedication and attitude, Kimbo had a chance to develop into a somewhat decent fighter, but I think it’s fairly obvious that’s never going to happen now.
As for the future, Strikeforce is already putting together their second event, which is penciled in for May at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington with a possible light heavyweight title fight between Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral and Rafael Feijao.
Perhaps, the most interesting news though is Coker’s plans to work with DREAM and Sengoku.
Coker says his relationship with Japanese promoters from Dream and Sengoku will be essential for filling 2009’s calendar. In September, he gave standouts Kazuo Misaki and Ishida their first fights for an American promotion, and sees many exciting match-ups possible for as early as May. Among his “dream” fights: Melvin Manhoef vs. Robbie Lawler, Joachim Hansen vs. Josh Thomson, and Shinya Aoki vs. Gilbert Melendez.
All I have to say is I hope they deliver on everything they’re talking about, because this is starting to venture into “too good to be true” territory.
[UPDATE 2/10/09 4:43PM ET] – Sherdog.com is reporting that the Shamrock-Diaz bout has been officially announced for the April 11 event.
Frank Shamrock will fight Nick Diaz at Strikeforce’s April 11 event on Showtime.
The bout, which Strikeforce and Showtime announced Tuesday, will be contested at a catch-weight of 179 pounds.
Coker has mentioned KJ Noons as a possible opponent for Josh Thomson. We all know the beef Noons has with Diaz getting promoted more heavily and making more money than him. Gotta wonder if Noons will let this get in the way of him participating on the card.
[UPDATE 2/10/09 7:04PM ET] – There was a Strikeforce-Showtime conference call today. Nothing terribly new, but here’s a few note-worthy items from Five Oz.
3:18 p.m. — Coker responded to a question about co-promoting by saying he’s certainly open to it under the right circumstance. He also said that a show on the East Coast by year’s end is very possible.
3:29 p.m. – Coker was asked about competing with the UFC and he basically said they don’t intend to be a threat and that they just want to focus on doing their own thing.
3:31 p.m. – Coker said Cung Le’s movie career is going well but that he spoke to him last week and that he said he’s itching to fight. He said that if not for an elbow injury, Le would be fighting on April 11. He said he expects Cung to fight twice in ‘09 and that he wants to make Le vs. Shamrock II before the end of the year.
3:36 p.m. – Hershman said they are working on putting the announce team in place. Sounds like Hershman wants Gus Johnson to do MMA play-by-play on Showtime in addition to boxing.
3:39 p.m. — Coker said they will follow the unified rules of MMA weight classes. There will be no 160 pound lightweight division, just a 155 pound lightweight division.
3:40 p.m. — The “world exclusive” contract signed with Cyborg was brought up. Coker is asked about having non-exclusive contracts with fighters in the past but with a more rigorous schedule that they will need the athletes to be exclusive to them. He said they could be flexible later but they need fighters available to fill slots.
3:41 p.m. – Coker said that Alistair Overeem will return before the end of the year but that he has a busy schedule in Japan and that has to be worked out.
3:52 p.m. – Coker said their contract with HDNet ended in November and that the home of Strikeforce is Showtime. Basically, no more deal with HDNet.
3:53 p.m. – Coker said Eddie Alvarez’s contract is complicated and you might see him fight elsewhere in the next several months but that he wants him for Strikeforce and to be featured on CBS and Showtime.