Sunday, June 27, 2010

My 2 Cents on Fedor's Loss and what it Means for Fedor and Strikeforce

I really don't have much to add with respect to breaking down the upset loss Fedor suffered to Werdum via triangle choke last night.  I will leave that commentary to others.  I do, however, want to address some commentary out there that I have already read concerning what it means for Fedor and Strikeforce.

After the fight I read some comments, including that Fedor's loss marks the end for Strikeforce, Strikeforce will go the way of EliteXC, Fedor is to Strikeforce what Kimbo was to EliteXC etc, and I think this is all misguided commentary. 

As Fedor, humble in both victory and now defeat, recognized, "[t]he one who doesn't fall, doesn't stand up."  Indeed. 

The true test is yet to come for Fedor with a likely rematch with Werdum.  With one fight left in his Strikeforce contract (as I understand), he will set out on his quest to avenge this loss and people, like me who believe that Fedor is truly an outstanding fighter and gentleman in the sport, will be all the more eager to watch his next fight to see, as he says, if he will "stand up."

With KimboEliteXC built its brand around him and the hype -- he was headlined on cards where established superior fighters were on the undercards and EliteXC even brought the fights to Kimbo's backyard.

It was all hype though. Indeed, those who understand the sport knew that despite his prowess in backyard brawls, Kimbo was not going to legitimately contend as an MMA fighter without significant training -- training that he did not have the time or benefit of before headlining network TV cards. He was thrown to the wolves (and the weakest wolves in the pack for that matter) with sub par MMA skills. Ultimately, he was destined to lose and so he did, and quickly, marking the end of a promotion that put all of its eggs in one basket.

Unlike Kimbo, Fedor is decidedly proficient both on his feet (as he has demonstrated time and time again) and on the ground with his outstanding Sambo (see this article by Josh Gross for more on some of his accomplishments).  Sure, detractors will say that he was caught in a basic triangle in approximately a minute last night, but that just serves to humanize him in my mind and demonstrates that, in fact, any fighter can get caught on any given night.

There will be those that will attempt to make much of the loss last night as evidence that Fedor was hype, but do those people really believe he will lose his next fight? Ask that same question after Kimbo's loss to Seth Petruzelli -- I know what my answer was. This (among other reasons) led to EliteXC's demise.

Strikeforce, unlike EliteXC, has not built its entire brand around an Internet "sensation." Last night, for example, we saw the Cung Le Scott Smith rematch, Cyborg dominate in typical fashion, and Josh Thomson pull an impressive third round submission.  All great displays of talent.

Moreover, just last week we saw Babalu take on Lawler in an entertaining fight. And don't forget, Strikeforce has Dan Henderson, King Mo, and others who have real talent and real marketability. Accordingly, I disagree that Fedor's loss, even if he were to retire, would spell the end for Strikeforce (assuming, of course, that Strikeforce is otherwise being financially responsible). Strikeforce has built its brand in a way that allows for defeat of a headlining fighter (e.g., the Henderson loss to Shields), and that is all that took place last night.

Simply put, I think Fedor will be back (and he will be back to winning) and Strikeforce will move forward despite what the naysayers will argue.

Fight Lawyer