MMAJunkie has the latest word from Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker concerning his organization’s return to CBS. Strikeforce’s future on network TV is in question since the last fight that the promotion showcased on the network was marred by some less-than-thrilling bouts and a post-fight, in-cage brawl that can only be described as ugly. In what could be a bad sign, Coker told MMAJunkie that he has not spoken with CBS representatives since that ill-fated outing.
“It’s something that we haven’t had a conversation with them yet, but probably after this St. Louis fight we’ll sit down with them and have that conversation,” said Coker.
Coker is positive despite the lack of communication with CBS reps and said that it is actually par for the course.
“This is the same course as the last show,” Coker said. “After the Fedor Emelianenko fight in November, it wasn’t like we had our April date right afterward. They have to go back and analyze and know all the data and the sales, and then we have a meeting. But our meeting for the April fight wasn’t until January, I believe.
“This is the same process we went through last time. This is a normal course of business. Hopefully, we’ll have a great fall date and we’ll have some more great fights on CBS.”
Considering that footage of the brawl was not edited out on the tape-delayed showings of the event further West and in fact was augmented by the addition of more camera angles could indicate that CBS executives were not all that upset about the incident. There was also exclusive video of the altercation posted on the CBS website; as much as the brawl was not a good representation of the sport of MMA (despite what Gus Johnson may think), it is the kind of thing that generates ratings and it is highly unlikely that the people at CBS do not recognize that. As long as they do not spend themselves out like many other upstart MMA promotions, Strikeforce could very well return to CBS down the line. Despite some inconsistencies within the organization, Strikeforce is the UFC’s only real stateside competitor; it holds relevant fights and employs relevant fighters, a fact that Coker believes factors into Strikeforce’s success.
“It’s an interesting time in our company, and we’re about one year into our television deal,” Coker said. “In February 2009, we closed the deal with ProElite, and by April, we were already doing our first fight, the Frank Shamrock-Nick Diaz fight, so everything has been moving really fast. But here’s the thing: this is what we do. This is what our company does.
“To have a relationship with Showtime and CBS, and to do as many fights as we do on Showtime, think about the value MMA fans are getting with Showtime. They can watch not only great MMA, but look at the boxing Showtime has had and the great original programming they have. It’s a great value, and a guy can just sit at home and watch MMA on Showtime for free. It’s a great value to MMA fans, and it’s a privilege and an honor for us to be able to host these fights. If it wasn’t for Showtime, we would not be doing the quality of fights that we’re putting together today.”
There have been many American MMA promotions that have attempted to exist in the UFC’s shadow and many of them have failed, mostly due to poor business planning or lack of funding. Even if Strikeforce does not return to CBS, their roster of legitimate fighters (despite being a little thin in some divisions) will likely keep them afloat. Still, a network television deal is the biggest thing Strikeforce has going for it that the UFC does not, and Scott Coker would like to keep that foothold.
“(As for CBS), it remains to be seen. I think that it’s going to be a situation where it’s really up to CBS. We’re hopeful that it will happen again.”