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Snowden’s Five Things: A Faux Fight of the Year and the End of the Shamrock Myth

Strikeforce made its Showtime debut last night, attempting to put its best foot forward with a main event of Frank Shamrock and Nick Diaz. As always, the show did well locally, attracting almost 15,000 fans to the HP Pavilion in San Jose. Nationally, it was another story all together. Promoters had hoped that the voluble Shamrock and the trash-talking Diaz would get tongues wagging. Instead, there was very little talk about this fight at all. Some of that was because of the nature of the catchweight fight. Shamrock has competed for years at light heavyweight and then middleweight. Diaz has competed as a welterweight and a lightweight. To put it another way, no one was demanding this fight.

The other problem ended up being Diaz’s reticence to engage Shamrock in their prearranged storyline. The idea was to focus on Shamrock’s win over Nick’s jiu jitsu instructor Cesar Gracie, but Diaz rarely addressed the issue and Shamrock was forced to switch to the angle that Diaz was “bad for the sport.” This was when Strikeforce could get Diaz to talk to the media at all. He wasn’t willing to do many interviews, and the fight buzz just never really got started. It will be interesting to see how well the show does, especially with competition from SPIKE TV (UFC 94 replay) and HBO (a big Winky Wright-Paul Williams boxing match).

1. Benji Radach and Scott Smith engaged in a pitched battle that was both the best and worst fight of the night. Let me explain. The two had a spirited slugfest, there can be no doubt. The action was furious (until they got tired) and they were evenly matched. Sometimes a fight like this can stand on its own merits.

Unfortunately for Strikeforce, just having a solid action fight wasn’t enough. With Gus Johnson and the rest of the broadcast booth touting the two as among the very best fighters in the promotion, it was important that the fight be more than just spirited. It needed to be good-and neither guy looked particularly good.

It’s hard to see Strikeforce as real competition for the UFC if these are supposed to be two of their very best 185-pound fighters. Does anyone believe that either guy would be a favorite against a mid-level fighter in the UFC like Alan Belcher? Strikeforce would be better off selling these fights for what they are-good action fights between experienced professionals. These aren’t the best fighters in the world, and it makes the group look bad promoting them like they are.

2. The California Athletic Commission should be embarrassed for letting the Cyborg-Akano fight go forward. The two fighters were clearly not in the same weight class and it just makes the sport look bad to promote this kind of mismatch. Can we all just agree that Cyborg and Carano are not little women and are never going to be 135 or 145-pound fighters? Make a weight class at 150 and make them fight there. Constantly missing weight makes the whole operation look unprofessional.

3. Gilbert Melendez made short work of Rodrigo Damm, a late fill-in for Lightweight champion Josh Thomson. This is especially impressive because Melendez had focused his training on Thomson; Thomson and Damm couldn’t be more different fighters. I was amazed that Gilbert not only engaged Damm on the ground, where he is at his best, but knocked him out there. I hope Thomson gets well soon, because this is a fight I need to see.

4. Frank Shamrock looked completely finished, a shell of his former self who could barely even move around the cage. Announcer Gus Johnson pushed Shamrock to announce his retirement post-fight, but Shamrock vowed, to a decidedly tepid crowd response, to fight again. If Frank is likely to lose regardless of opponent, it may be time to pull the trigger on a Tito Ortiz rematch. Unless they can sign a big name UFC free agent to fight Ortiz, this is the best matchup the promotion has available and Ortiz is certainly angling behind the scenes for this fight.

5. Why did SPIKE TV run endless commercials touting the controversial fight between Georges St. Pierre and B.J. Penn, encouraging fans to see what the fuss was all about for themselves, and then cut out all the action between rounds in favor of commercials? How were fans supposed to “see for themselves” what happened during “Greasegate” if SPIKE didn’t even air it? It wasn’t really addressed in the commentary and I’m sure many people tuning in left that broadcast a little confused about what the heck was going on.

  • Bad Monkey says:

    On a related note, despite Gus Johnson and Ranallo’s lame commentary I thought Pat Miletich was very good. I had not watched a fight with him commentating before and I enjoyed his insight into the fights. Strikeforce should definitely consider bringing him back for another event.

  • hindsightufuk says:

    agree with the radich smith statement, already getting sick of people saying that was a fight of the year contender. it wasnt. it was an entertaining slugfest with a cool ending. it was a boxing match, in a cage.
    slightly disappointed Nick Diaz didnt go for an armbar in the first round when he had Shamrock mounted, we all know he could do it and that his bjj is awesome, so can he please fucking remind us some day soon and submit someone?
    Great performance by Diaz tho, love the guy

  • the king of all judo says:

    frank should fight mrs. cyborg

  • tyler says:

    I really don’t know where to begin by saying how much I didn’t like this article but I’ll start with saying why can’t you comment about Strikeforce’s first event on Showtime and how the first show was overall without saying it has to be better for it to be competition for the UFC?
    It was their first event on Showtime. You don’t think they’re going to get a deeper roster of fighters and work out the broadcast team and production.
    Whether you liked the first event or not it is competition because the UFC is never going to be willing to pay all the top fighters around what they want so they’ll be fighting in other promotions and then the UFC will sign a bunch of mid level guys like Mustapha Al Turk, Neil Grove, Razak Al hussan, and the countless other B and C level fighters who get on TUF and then score some fights in the UFC afterward so they can fill out cards with guys who are for the most part just average to mid level fighters at best who are thought more highly of just because they’re in the UFC.
    Perfect example being your stating does anyone think either Scott Smith or Benji Radach would be a favorite against Alan Belcher.
    What? Are you kidding me? I would make both guys a favorite against Belcher. Why wouldn’t anyone, just because Belcher is fighting in the UFC doesn’t make him a better fighter than Smith or Radach.
    This is the same guy who was getting his ass handed to him by Denis Kang and then got lucky when Kang gassed and fell right into his guillotine choke. Also the same guy who was given a gift decision against Ed Herman.
    People need to open their eyes and appreciate good fighters and fights regardless of promotion.

  • screwface says:

    Diaz, I was rooting for you, but im so sorry i ever doubted your ability to make it look as easy as you did. made shamrock look over the hill. i think diaz cant stand to move up a weight class after seeing that. and i kinda agree with tyler. i was very entertained by every fight on this card and i think it was a win. nice to see strikeforce back in the game officially. i may have enjoyed this event more then some recent ufcs. and i didnt find the commentating that bad. better then wec imo. mir annoys me with his 1 sided fight analysis. but great show, great night of fights, and congrats to diaz. that victory musta been sweet on so many levels.

  • screwface says:

    wish i could edit, sorry i messed this up, meant to say
    i think diaz CAN stand to move up a weight class after seeing that.

  • hindsightufuk says:

    just to anounciate the point made above by tyler, i actually found the strikeforce event more satisfying and enjoyable than most recent UFC events.
    maybe because i dont have to watch an event claiming to be the best in the world, the superbowl of MMA, and come away feeling somewhat non plussed & unsatisfied, wondering why half the fighters are even on the card in the first place.

  • Harpo says:

    I had the benefit of watching this live without having to listen to what apparently was terrible commentary. I will say that the crowd there was electric, the only real stinker was the Zack Bucia/ James Terry debacle which didn’t make it to air (THANK GOD) and the fighters put on a great show despite the whole “Cyborg not making weight and then murdering a smaller opponent” controversy and Melendez having to face a replacement for a meaningless interim title. Smith/Radach was brutal and intense and while it may not have been a great bout in terms of fundamentals it was your basic Scott Smith comeback home run haymaker bout. Nothin’ wrong with that.

  • ZP580 says:

    Strikeforce was weak. The UFC pays fighters just fine. Other promotions have to pay ridiculous amounts just so they can get some descent fighters. All fighters know that the UFC is the biggest promotion and the best way to get their name out there. If Strikeforce ever wants to compete, they better get a better main event than Diaz v old Shamrock. And Ortiz v anyone isnt the answer. Due Cung Le a favor and release him so he can get a crack at the likes of Franklin, Hendo and Silva. Be real, if UFC 94 wasnt a replay and it was live last night. Strikeforce wouldnt stand achance against any live UFC event. Diaz sux, whens he gonna fight someone worth mentioning, oh wait he did, KJ Noons and he lost. Give him a Kos or a Fitch then I’ll be interested.

  • allelbows says:

    what are you talking about Diaz not doing interviews?? where did you get this from??

  • AlwaysRelaxing24 says:

    I thought this was a very good article.

    Radach/Smith wasn’t even the best fight of the month, forget about the year. If that fight happened in the UFC, it would be getting bashed right now. Personally, I enjoyed the fight for what it was.

    The biggest problem I have is that UFC Midcard fighters (Radach & Smith) go outside of the UFC, get a prime TV spot, and people all of a sudden speak of them in the same breath as Anderson Silva, Nathan Marquardt, Dan Henderson, and Yushin Okami.

    I firmly believe that if Chris Leben vs. Michael Bisping happened outside of the UFC, it would have gotten a lot more praise. And Alan Belcher would likely beat up both Smith and Radach. Do we all forget that Smith was 1-3 in the UFC, and Radach lost to Sean Sherk, who was half his size?

    ONe thing the article didn’t mention…. And really hasn’t been getting enough press…. Is how horrible the Strikeforce undercard was. There was absolutely no talent in that undercard. Top to bottom, their card was the weakest of any major organization in MMA… Compared to the UFC, WEC, Sengoku, DREAM, Affliction, and so on. That better not be a trend.

  • cocoonofhorror says:

    Strikeforce is not trying to compete head to head with UFC, n00b. Melendez knocked Damm out on the ground, huh? any more genius observations?

  • brokentoe says:

    Boy, there are some really picky people out there. I watch all the MMA I can get. I get HDNet and Showtime as part of my cable tv package, and I love it. I can’t afford to get all the UFCs anymore, because they put on so many, so when I see “free” (I dont have to pay any extra) shows like Strikeforce, it’s great. I see a lot of people saying this show wasn’t as good as a UFC. OK, so what? The huge upside here is that it was WAY better than anything EliteXC ever did! I liked what I saw on showtime, and I thought the little computer animated muscle-and-bone guys were sorta cool with Pat narrating the technique. I also like that it looked like a PPV (no commercials like a Spike show or WEC). I think the positives by far outweighed any negatives. —I did think the Cyborg fight was criminal. Cyborg should have been ashamed of herself, beating up on a little kid like that. Female MMA will never be taken seriously if the biggest names keep having trouble making weight. Strikeforce always has catch-weight fights. The Carano-Cyborg fight should just be at 155 or 160 so it isn’t an issue…

  • Angry Mike says:

    It wasn’t UFC, but I don’t think Strikeforce is trying to compete with UFC. The fights were entertaining regardless of whether individual fighters could compete in UFC. Ranallo was more subdued than usual, and that was a plus. Miletich was a welcome addition, too. Hopefully he’ll be back.

  • Cathedron says:

    “The biggest problem I have is that UFC Midcard fighters (Radach & Smith) go outside of the UFC, get a prime TV spot, and people all of a sudden speak of them in the same breath as Anderson Silva, Nathan Marquardt, Dan Henderson, and Yushin Okami.”

    I totally agree with that. What often makes them look so good is that they are fighting opponents who they are now equal with. It makes for good (or at least entertaining) fights, though.

    I didn’t think this was the best event, but it was good. I’ll take all the MMA I can get. I really have no interest in seeing Jenna’s Babydaddy fight again, but Strikeforce does need a few marketable names if only to make the good fighters look better by beating a recognized name.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Don’t you people get sick of tying to say that the UFC is the bestest most awsomest MMA org ever invented. Cuz a lot of things about the UFC suck too. Like Leben vs Bisping and cards fillied to the brim with reality TV stars. Take a look at the card for UFC 33 and then look at the card for most of todays UFC events. UFC 100 is the only exception to the rule. It is getting more and more watered down. So people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones…something like that.

  • Bullylover says:

    Well one of the tightest thing’s about this outing was the return of Big John. By the way ZP580 @#$% U . You ain’t nothing but a hater. get a damn life. By the way not every Ufc card is dynamite. Get off their dicks. Reall hard core fans look forward to all MMA fights and promotions instead of trying to down them.


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