With the losses of Andrei Arlovski and Fedor Emelianenko, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix took a massive hit. Is it such a huge hit that the Grand Prix has lost it’s luster?
Wait, wait, hear me out. I know what you guys are saying, you tournament purists, that the better man wins and that we will have a great ending to the tournament regardless of who wins.
The biggest names in this Grand Prix were Andrei Arlovski, Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, and the current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem. The rest of the guys were just “fillers.” Great fighters to be sure, but none of them have the star power or the notoriety of the others. That’s just a fact. Strikeforce was banking on those fighters to make it to the final four.
Now that two of them are gone, the once bright shine has dulled a bit, if not completely diminished.
The only fight left that will keep the casual MMA fan tuned in is Overeem vs. Werdum. One that Overeem will probably win in the first round, and one that he probably won’t get too much credit for. After that, what do you have? Barnett/Rogers vs. Kharitonov? Overeem vs. Silva? Please. That’s no where near Overeem vs. Emelianenko and Arlovski vs. Barnett. Say what you want about the casual fan, but the casual fan pays the bills. If they aren’t paying attention, the world isn’t paying attention.
I like Kharitonov (dislike him for beating Arlovski) and I like Silva, but who really knows those guys outside of the hardcore fan base? No one. They will not bring in the ratings, they will not sell tickets. Both of which are detrimental to what Strikeforce was trying to accomplish with this tournament. And you can be sure, if one of the “lesser” guys wins this, no one will think he’s the top heavyweight in the world. It just won’t happen. What they will think is that Strikeforce’s heavyweight weren’t really that good to begin with.
Yes, Arlovski has now lost four straight. That doesn’t matter. People want to see him fight and want to see him succeed. Yes, Emelianenko hasn’t looked the world-beater he once was, but he’s still the greatest heavyweight of all-time. Casual fans know who they are, have an interest in watching them compete. Good or bad, you can say whatever you want about these two, but the fact is they are the biggest names in this tournament. Rather, the were. The February 5 event was the highest rated Strikeforce event ever. It’s no surprise it had both Emelianenko and Arlovski on it. Now that they are gone, expect the hype to die down and the ratings to plummet.
I’m not saying I’m not interested in the outcome. And I’m not saying you should forget about this Grand Prix. What I am saying is that it will be forgotten. The luster is definitely gone, and that’s a shame for the winner.