Strikeforce’s November 3 event has suffered a second blow to the card as Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (10-1) has been forced to withdraw from the event. Rockhold was scheduled to make his third title defense against undefeated striking specialist Lorenz Larkin (13-0(1)) in the card’s co-main event. The first blow to the card came when former 2x UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir was forced out of the main event against grand prix champion Daniel Cormier due to injury as well.
In a year for the sport that has been plagued by high profile fighters afflicted with injuries, these unfortunate occurrences only add up to a long list of setbacks for highly anticipate bouts. While there have been events that were saved with last minute replacements and change-ups, this event could fall into the rare category that has swept in this year: a cancelled event.
For the first time ever the UFC had to cancel an event after the main event fell through toppling a top-heavy card, and just weeks later the same thing occurred when Strikeforce cancelled an event for the same reasons. Now, this could be the third event under Zuffa in the year to meet the chopping block. To show the distinction between the two events cancelled between the promotions the UFC’s event (UFC 151) was cancelled after PPV revenues could not be salvaged without a high profile main event to replace the previous one scheduled, while in Strikeforce’s case Showtime refused to televise the event (Strikeforce: Melendez vs Healy) after card’s star attraction in Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez withdrew from the card due to a training injury.
Considerably this event was set with a back-up plan in place. With a high profile main event set the co-main event was worthy of stepping up to take its place in the case that it may be pulled from the card, which appeared to be an option to put in action after Mir was forced out the card. With Cormier still without an opponent and now Rockhold forced out of the co-main event that warranted attention because of the fact it was a title bout and him growing as a star attraction for the promotion, this event may be in trouble. Originally the primary star attractions slated for the card were Cormier, Mir, and Rockhold. Considerably behind them is Tim Kennedy who is a 2x Middleweight title challenger and good attraction in the American market, but taking on a relatively unknown opponent will not help his case for stepping up to headline the card. Also on the card is former Lightweight title challenger Jorge Masvidal who is taking on a strong competitor that could break into title contention in the weight class, but neither are big enough draws to attract average viewers. There is also the only female bout on the card that pits former title challenger Liz Carmouche against debuting undefeated rising prospect Sara McMann that holds great importance in the women’s MMA scene, but it is likely that bout is not on the short list to save the card.
Not to overlook Larkin, who was to challenge Rockhold for his title, a new opponent must still be found or the decision will be made to withhold him from the event to challenge for the title at a later date. There is also the chance that a new opponent could still be found to take on Cormier keeping the card’s main draw on schedule, but that may be the only way to ensure the card’s survival.
The Strikeforce main card for the November event as it stands:
Cormier vs TBA*
TBA* vs Larkin
Masvidal vs Greene
Kennedy vs Smith
Carmouche vs McMann
Written by @MMAFanHQ