Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Sorry, GP: Belts make the man and tourney
By Chuck Mindenhall
Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine would have benefited from a little title talk on Saturday.
There seems to be a master plan with Strikeforce that everybody outside of the fans, the media, Dana White, the UFC, Scott Coker and celestial governing bodies above are not totally in on. Otherwise a plan to do something with Nick Diaz’s vacated welterweight belt -- which was deserted back in June as he left in pursuit of Georges St. Pierre's gold -- would have been in place going into this past Saturday.
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Instead we are told from Coker that this is something that he and a faceless group of confreres need to circle back around to, even after his remaining top welterweights just fought on one card. Why wasn’t he circling around to it beforehand to help generate buzz on guys like Tarec Saffiedine and Tyron Woodley, who could use the boost? The stakes could have been made to help build momentum going forward. Instead, both fighters spoke afterward of a potential rematch in hopeful tones, and everybody else was left to speculate. This made for some awkward postfight interviews.
Which brings things around to the heavyweight GP, which got off to a big start in February but is now fizzling just as it should be getting hot. Erstwhile champion Alistair Overeem was removed from the brackets, and now the tournament -- which resumes on Sept. 10 in Cincinnati -- has a shrinking, almost bereft feel to it.
That’s really not ideal. When Overeem was ousted by Zuffa for insubordination (presumably) and other acts, Coker should have gone into emergency repair mode. The first thing they should have done was declare that Daniel Cormier was stepping in (which they did), and that the winner of the tournament would become the new heavyweight champion (which they didn’t).
Granted, September is still a month away and news of Overeem’s dismissal came in on Friday, so Strikeforce could still make this the case and promote the event as such. As it stands right now, nobody is sure and that’s where we are left to idle. That’s two belts in Strikeforce that are in limbo, and that makes you wonder if -- and how soon -- others will follow. In a game that’s centered on ability to shape hype and sell it, this seems like a strange way to do business.