Strikeforce Fedor vs. Silva Wrap: New Stars, Bad Gina and White Russians
So apparently, Fedor Emelianenko lost Saturday night. Had you heard that?
Overall, Strikeforce had a great night, even with a potential PPV with Emelianenko vs. Alistair Overeem match going up in smoke.
Newsworthy, exciting and star-making in one neatly wrapped two-hour package? Most fans will take that every time.
Here are five things from Strikeforce's big Saturday night out that stand out to me:
Production Value Was an A
One of my biggest frustrations with the product has been a lack of production values, especially when compared to the UFC. If you can't beat them, at least try to look better than them. However, this apparently is more a Showtime issue than Strikeforce, so remember that the next time you watch Dexter, will ya?
But taking a cue from CBS NCAA basketball coverage, Saturday night was one shining moment—especially the opening video sequence and introduction of the Grand Prix fighters. They did interviews throughout and made the tourney's opening fights feel really important.
I also really liked the preview video for the March event and thought they did a logical build for the next few events overall. There was one glaring issue with the telecast, however.
Gus Has To Go
Gus Johnson is one of the most emotional and fun announcers in modern sports today. When it comes to YouTube clips of great sports moments, his energy is the stuff of legends.
But it's not working when it comes to MMA. At all.
Johnson is not familiar enough with the sport to get the nuances of what exactly he's seeing and why it's happening. Previous telecasts with veteran Mauro Ranallo have shown why this knowledge so important.
Say what you will about Ranallo, but he understands the moment and Johnson doesn't. Fedor's loss was huge news, but it felt like just another fight. I get that he's a familiar face, but Showtime has to remove him from that spot for the betterment of the product.
And those post-fight interviews? Good lord. Did he intend to channel former WEC talking head Craig Hummer? We don't appreciate Joe Rogan enough for his enthusiasm in those situations until we're faced with guys like Johnson and Hummer.
Saturday gave us two potential stars for Strikeforce in Sergei Kharitonov and "Bigfoot" Silva, heavyweights that put on noteworthy performances to an audience that largely didn't know them.
For Silva, he becomes the second straight fighter to take down a pillar in the Emperor's palace with a fairly dominant victory to advance in the tournament, one getting overlooked because of who he beat and what it means to that guy's career. If positioned right, Silva can be a lovable babyface. Believe it.
Although Kharitonov isn't new to MMA, he's a relatively fresh face to a mainstream audience. Granted, I'm not sure how much you can get from a KO win over a fighter whose time has clearly passed, but a win is a win. Kharitonov now awaits the winner of Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers.
And What About Fedor?
I put this fourth on the list because you can read about 500,000 articles on the 'net about Fedor and what this means and blah blah blah.
This isn't the end of the world for Strikeforce, but that rumored PPV now seems to be out the window with Overeem vs. Fedor a distant memory. To the chagrin of many, Fedor wasn't the draw he was expected to be.
Bringing him in was worth a shot, but Fedor's camp blew the chance to make megabucks in the UFC and now have to deal with the consequences of that—all because they were insistent on co-promotion.
Will he fight again? I'd like to see it, but at 205 pounds. His time at heavyweight has passed -- today's big boys are just too damn good. But if time is up for the Russian nightmare, let's pour a glass of vodka and raise it to what he accomplished and what could have been.
So we all got spoiler alerted in the afternoon about Gina Carano announcing her return to active MMA, but getting the word from the lady herself was still anticipated because, well, she's Gina Carano.
For someone who wants to break into acting, was there anyone less convincing with announcing a comeback than Carano?
It was awkward, almost as if Carano didn't want to give the word publicly. And her giggle-fest with Heidi Androl? Well, awkward at best.
We know she's coming back at some point this year, but when does she want to fight? Why? Does she want Cyborg Santos again?
Instead, we got tee-hees and bashfulness. I'm guessing Lady Cyborg isn't sweating too much in Brazil.
But if that's the biggest complaint from Saturday night, that's a big win for Strikeforce.
Josh Nason is a New England-based freelance MMA journalist that currently has a Jon Fitch feature in February's FIGHT! Magazine. He frequently does radio/podcast appearances and asks for your "like" for ESPN Boston to cover MMA. Follow him on Twitter.
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