Strikeforce has got to be feeling a little bit snake bit right about now. It started earlier this month when their dominant women’s champion Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos tested positive for Performance Enhacing Drugs. More bad news has been coming out this week, as Lightheavyweight star ‘King’ Mo Lawal has also failed a drug screening for PEDs and Heavyweight tournament finalist Daniel Cormier may be forced to delay his match with Josh Barnett due to a slow healing broken hand. That is three of the top five athletes in Strikeforce who are out for extended periods. That is a lot of talent sidelined.
Cormier was scheduled to fight Josh Barnett on march 3rd, but Cormier is still bothered by a nagging broken hand he has been nursing for half a year. Cormier is due to see a doctor later this week and Strikeforce is not taking any chances, as they have moved the Ronda Rousey-Meisha Tate bout into the main event slot.
Will Strikeforce replace Cormier for March 3rd? Can you say Fedor? They really should wait for Cormier, but they could opt for a replacement of some type to take on Barnett.
The two positive PED tests take out a lot of talent from the overall Strikeforce roster, and the suspensions are for one year, so forget about ‘Cyborg’ and ‘King’ Mo for 2012. ’Cyborg’ is apparently sticking by her story that illegal steroids were in a supplement she used, and she is planning to file a appeal with California’s commission. ’King’ Mo’s people have already issued statements laced with denial. It could be more cause for damage control if the appeal does not go well for ‘Cyborg’.
So what will Strikeforce’s strategy be? They have seven more shows to deliver to SHOWTIME, and really only have Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold and little else for main events. Barnett is main event level talent as well, but his name is followed by the PED issue due to his multiple positive tests in the past, and we are still waiting to hear from Dana White as to whether Barnett has a future with the UFC.
So elevating the Rousey-Tate match to main event may be a glimpse of Strikeforce’s future. Like WEC was used to nurture the Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions, Strikeforce should be put to develop the women’s weight classes. It should be easier to do, and it should take less time than with the men’s smaller weight classes, mainly because there is no competition for the women’s talent. Strikeforce could effectively sign 20-25 of the top women fighters in the world, run tournaments at 115, 125 and 135, then hand it over to the UFC who immediately puts the women on season 16 of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and then absorbs them into their roster.