Hurry up and wait for UFC-Strikeforce crossover clashes
If you're looking for evidence of the UFC-ization of Strikeforce, head to YouTube.
Before the UFC took over the second-biggest promotional outfit in mixed martial arts, you knew that if you missed a Strikeforce card on a given Saturday night you could head to the world's largest video sharing website to see fairly high-quality replays of the night's biggest fights.
If you logged post-fight looking for a video of Strikeforce welterweight champ Nick Diaz' dramatic knockout win over Paul Daley, Youtube wasn't going to give you much beyond a few archived previews and a grainy, filmed-off-of-TV replay of the fight's finish.
But if you have SuperChannel or were at the right sports bar you saw the expert grappler Diaz defeat the dangerous Daley on the striker's terms, surviving a knockdown and several other tense moments to pummell an exhausted Daley in the closing seconds of the first round.
The win was Diaz' 10th in a row and it solidified both his grip on Strikeforce's 170-title and his claim as one of the world's very best welterweights, regardless of what organization owns his contract. And since stopping Daley, Diaz has become the subject of speculation that he's the fighter most suited for a superfight with Georges St-Pierre (provided, of course, GSP handles Jake Shields in Toronto April 30).
Couple of big obstacles to that fight, though.
The first is skill.
Yes, Diaz is by far the most impressive welterweight on StrikeForce's roster, especially since Shields jumped to the UFC. And yes, a 10-fight unbeaten streak is difficult to string together in MMA, no matter your level of competition.
But we don't know how Diaz, who last fought in the UFC in 2006, is more qualified to take on St. Pierre than the UFC's current crop of welterweights. It's tough to picture him reeling off 10 straight wins when facing guys like Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck, and tougher to picture him faring any better than those three did against GSP.
Secondly, and most importantly, there's red tape.
Earlier this winter UFC bought Strikeforce, whose president, Scott Coker, says with enthusiasm that interpromotional showdowns aren't just appealing but inevitable. But UFC boss Dana White still hasn't budged from his initial intention to run the two outfits as separate companies.
Which means MMA fans can brace for the same dilemma that has bedeviled boxing fans for a generation:
Multiple beltholders in the same weight class tantalyzingly close to squareing off to determine who really rules, but who in the end never do because promoters and sactioning bodies can't get on the same page.
Fans who need to satisfy themselves with debating dream matchups instead of seeing them.
That scenario's only fun to in that if you make a prediction on a fight that is never going to happen, you can never be proven wrong (Mayweather KO's Pacquiao in three!!!). And the idea of keeping Strikeforce stars out of the cage with UFC champs seems to contradict the strategy that helped the UFC rise to the top of the fight game in the first place. Because the UFC holds the contracts of just about every MMA fighter we care about, the UFC can make just about every fight fans want to see.
And theory, taking over Strikeforce should expand the UFC's list of potential pay-per-view headliners.
Or watch Strikeforce 155-pound dynamo Gilbert Melendez tangle with any of the UFC's talented crop of lightweights.
Aside from Walker-Couture, the appetite among fans for those fights and many others exist.
But for the UFC, for the moment, the desire to make them happen doesn't.