Bellator & Strikeforce Super-Fight
How Bjorn Rebney & Scott Coker Could Contribute To MMA's Long-Term Success
I know I’m not the only one that knows about it.
After Hector Lombard defeated Alexander Shlemenko, he was very audible when many MMA fans around the world explicitly heard him say “Jacare, I want your belt!”
Turns out Gilbert Melendez and Eddie Alvarez may not be the only fighters that want their respective promotions to cross paths.
Shango called out Ronaldo Souza after successfully defending his Bellator Middleweight title, Alvarez and Melendez want a crack at each other sometime, and Bjorn Rebney has thrown around the idea of Nick Diaz facing new Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren.
Now all we need is Bibiano Fernandes to get called out by Joe Warren and for Cole Konrad to establish himself as a big deal at Heavyweight, and THEN we got ourselves a hell of a cross-promotion deal!
Seriously, let Konrad develop himself before we look at a Konrad-versus-Alistair Overeem bout without being tempted to laugh and say “Konrad would get his ass kicked.”
Feels good to openly digress from the basic point at hand once again, but the bottom line here is that whether Scott Coker realizes it or not, Bjorn Rebney is trying to cook up the fights that the fans of the sport want to see.
As it just so happens, those fights include cross-promotional superfights between at least three of Bellator’s World Champs and three of Strikeforce’s World Champs.
What does it do for the fans?
It does a variety, and for me personally, it makes me tap into my inner Stone Cold Steve Austin and scream “OH HELL YEAH!” to the top of my lungs before downing a bottle of Vanilla Coke as if it was a bottle of Budweiser.
Why Vanilla Coke?
Because I like the stuff, and besides, I have two more years before I can legally get a case of Budweiser, so I think I deserve to enjoy a bottle of Coke here and there.
Now then, what do cross-promotional superfights do for the Mixed Martial Arts world if Bellator and Strikeforce do it?
Well, for the answer to that, we need only look as far as the formal alliance that Strikeforce has with DREAM.
See, the deal that Strikeforce has with DREAM isn't a merger in which basically DREAM is Strikeforce, because we'd be seeing Shinya Aoki more in the States f it was.
What the deal is between FEG and Scott Coker is that the fighters from DREAM are allowed t fight in Strikeforce and vice versa for the fighters in Strikeforce.
There's no exclusivity with this alliance between the two promotions -- again, it's just a talent exchange of sorts, not a merger.
The only catch is that the fighters can't take a fight if they already have one coming up.
For example, Dan Henderson and Renato "Babalu" Sobral are both fighting this next month in a Light Heavyweight bout for Strikeforce so this means what?
This means that Hendo can't take a fight against a DREAM Light Heavyweight until sometime after his fight with Babalu, which may just be two months minimum, depending on what kind of suspension the Missouri State Athletic Commission gives to both fighters.
Shinya Aoki had just come off of a win to fight Gilbert Melendez, so that's how he was able to fight Melendez in Nashville.
If a similar deal occurs with Strikeforce and Bellator, what this does is help the fans of the world see that cross-promotion is a win-win situation for all organizations involved and potenitally influences other organizations want to strike a deal with a rival promotion for the purpose.
This is one problem many feel exists in the UFC, whereas it's definitely a strength for Strikeforce and Bellator.
With the UFC, you won't see the best fights in the world featuring the best fighters in the world if those "best fighter" types are there for one night only.
If you sign on to fight someone in the UFC, you have to sign on with the company or else you don't get the fight... unless you're Hector Lombard, in which case you get some issues hashed out with your visa and then build up a reputation before trying for the UFC again.
Aside from that instance, anyone who wants to fight in the UFC can't do just one fight in the company for the sole purpose of saying, "hey, at least I fought there once."
They have to sign with the company in order to have a fight happen, or else they don't get the fight.
With Coker and Rebney, they realize that all of these superfights are what the fans want to see, and that forcing the other to sign over their fighters to a multi-fight deal with their organization is not the right way to go about making these fights happen.
That's how dream fights remain as dream fights without ever coming close to actually happening.
What it would do if the two cross-promoted is it would raise Bellator a few steps closer to the mainstream audience that only knows of the UFC and convince those fans of what Strikeforce and Bellator fans know:
In order to make a good fight happen in one's organization, you don't necessarily need both parties to be signed under contract with your organzation.
Once Bellator and Strikeforce did it, people may once again be saying "Why doesn't the UFC just do this?", but the result may be different this time out, especially now that the UFC officially has a Featherweight division and a Bantamweight division.
The time may come when the sport's biggest organization has to realize that putting on the best fights in the world -- featuring the best fighters in the world -- means following suit from its competition and setting up one-time-only superfights featuring the best in the world from another organization and the best in the world from the UFC.
They may not realize it now, but they will once Coker finally decides to collaborate with Rebney to give the fans of the sport exactly what they want to see.