Monday, June 13, 2011

Strikeforce - Overeem vs. Werdum: Can Strikeforce Capitalize on Mavs Madness in Dallas?

Welcome to Dallas, a.k.a. the 'Big D.' Home of some of the best barbecue you'll ever eat, the football capital of the world, and the heart of the Bible belt. Dallas sits on the intersection of the Southern, Midwestern, and Western regions of the country. Although bustling, and growing day by day, Dallas remains a very conservative, traditional city where football, church, and good cookin' mean everything.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, a large metropolitan area surrounding the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, is home to some of the country's most dedicated sports fans. We're talking big three sports (football, basketball, and baseball) of course, and Dallas area sports fans have every reason to support their major sports teams. Their passion for football is obvious, even when the Cowboys suck. Additionally, high school football in the 'D' is among the toughest in the nation, and TCU has risen to the top of the D-1 college football rankings. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers, who won an American League Pennant last season, brought attention back to the DFW baseball scene. Then, the most breaking scene came last night when one 7 foot German marched emotionally into the locker room at American Airlines Arena in Miama. Dirk Nowitzki's welling eyes represented the long, hard road that Dallas players and fans have travelled to finally attain an NBA Championship. But with the allegiances to football, baseball, and basketball prevailing in the Dallas area, where does America's fastest growing sport, mixed martial arts, fit in?

That question will be answered on Saturday night when Strikeforce comes to Dallas. This coming Saturday, Strikeforce will present Strikeforce: 'Overeem vs. Werdum' at the American Airlines Arena in downtown Dallas. The show marks only the second time that Zuffa has held an event in Dallas. The UFC has staged a total of five events in the Lone Star state. The UFC first came to Dallas in September of 2009 for UFC 103, a surprising success, pulling "17,428 attendees and $2.4 million estimated gate."

Strikeforce has visited the Lone Star State just two times. They last visited in February, for a 'Challengers' series event in Austin. Perhaps the most successful of the two, was last year's Strikeforce: Houston event in which Rafael Calvacante defeated Muhammad Lawal for the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Title, and 'Jacare' Souza defeated Tim Kennedy for the previously vacated Strikeforce Middleweight Title. Overeem vs. Werdum will mark the first time that Strikeforce has Texas under the Zuffa banner, and it is their very first show in Dallas.

It will be very interesting to see what kind of success Strikeforce can have in Dallas. Right now is either the best or worst time for a Strikeforce event in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Either fans will be looking for more action while still reeling off the Mavericks' NBA Championship win, or they will direct their full attention to the World Series-chasing Texas Rangers.

Either way, the main thing that could deter Dallas area fans from Strikeforce is the simple fact that MMA is virtually nonexistent in this part of Texas. As stated earlier, Dallas sports fans love their big three sports, especially football. In fact, Texas is generally a football state, but unlike Houston, Austin, and San Antonio where MMA has already caught on, Dallas is still slow catch on to the MMA buzz. Yes, there are a few inklings of MMA presence around the Dalla-Fort Worth area -- Guy Mezger runs Mark Cuban's HDNet Fights division out of Dallas, The Ultimate Fighter winner Travis Lutter runs his gym out of Fort Worth, Octagon MMA in North Dallas is affiliated with Team Nogueira, Marc Laimon brought a portion of the Cobra Kai/Team Takedown camp (Rosholt brothers, Johnny Hendricks) to Arlington Texas last year -- just a few things on the Dallas MMA scene. Otherwise, the Dallas MMA landscape is pretty much dead. A few BJJ tournaments here and there. A local MMA event every few months if you're lucky, but not enough to really build up steam.

Although the UFC has proven that Dallas can successfully host a mixed martial arts show, Strikeforce is the smaller Zuffa brand. Even more important, Strikeforce comes at a much more vulnerable time -- while fans are enjoying the successes of two Dallas teams. When UFC 103 came to Dallas back in 2009, it was the night before the Cowboys played the NFC East rivals, the New York Giants. UFC 103 became a part of the weekend festivities leading up to the Cowboys' first regular season game in their new Arlington stadium.

Can Strikeforce play itself into the post-NBA Championship festivities, as I'm sure fans will still be doing the D-Town Boogy in Deep Ellum come Saturday?!?!

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Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum will feature the two remaining quarterfinals bouts of Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament with Alistair Overeem facing Fabricio Werdum and Josh Barnett seeing Brett Rogers. Full card below:

Strikeforce: "Overeem vs. Werdum"
June 18, 2011
American Airlines Center,
Dallas, Texas

Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum
Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers
K.J. Noons vs. Jorge Masvidal
Daniel Cormier vs. Jeff Monson
Valentijn Overeem vs. Chad Griggs
Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante vs. Justin Wilcox
Conor Heun vs. Magno Almeida
Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Joe Ray
Todd Moore vs. Mike Bronzoulis
Brian Melancon vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg

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