Another day, another report that we've lost a high-profile fighter who was scheduled for a high-profile fight: Joe Riggs, who was scheduled to fight Nick Diaz for the Strikeforce welterweight title, is reportedly out of the August 15 card. That's the second title fight Strikeforce has lost this week (heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem pulled out of his bout with Fabricio Werdum), and it comes the same week as the news that Josh Barnett can't fight Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction Trilogy.
That means neither Affliction nor Strikeforce is giving its fans nearly as good a card as they were told they were getting when they purchased tickets, ordered pay-per-view and subscribed to Showtime. So now Affliction and Strikeforce should do the right thing for themselves and for MMA fans: Combine their cards.
Think about what a monster seven-fight Strikeforce/Affliction co-promoted pay-per-view card could look like:
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers
Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg
Renato Sobral vs. Gegard Mousasi
Josh Thompson vs. Gilbert Melendez
Jorge Santiago vs. Vitor Belfort
Paul Buentello vs. Gilbert Yvel
Takanori Gomi vs. Nick Diaz
That would be an absolutely tremendous card, and it would still have some pretty good scraps on the non-televised undercard, like Jay Hieron vs. Paul Daley and Ben Rothwell vs. Chase Gormley. It would leave five previously scheduled fights intact, and it would provide great opponents to two fighters who lost theirs, Fedor and Diaz. It would also turn Sobral vs. Mousasi into a title fight, since Sobral is the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion.
Yes, there are some competitive drawbacks: It would be unfair to Rafaello Oliveira, who had been preparing for Gomi, but the truth is, Oliveira isn't in the same league as Gomi, and that's not a very good fight anyway. For the chance to see a Diaz-Gomi rematch, I know a whole lot of fans who would personally chip in to pay Oliveira the money he would've earned for the Gomi fight. And yes, we're leaving Fabricio Werdum on the sidelines, although I'd be fine with matching him against any of the heavyweights on the card.
I know, I know, there are the obvious practical considerations of Affliction having already booked the Honda Center for August 1 and Strikeforce having already booked the HP Pavilion for August 15. This combined card would have to take place August 15, so the folks who have already bought tickets for the Honda Center would have to have those tickets refunded.
But it actually wouldn't be so farfetched from a TV perspective. Showtime is televising Strikeforce, and Affliction is distributed by Showtime's pay-per-view arm. They could work that out if they wanted to. And Scott Coker and Tom Atencio, the guys who run Strikeforce and Affliction, have always said they'll work with other promotions to make the best fights for the fans.
It won't happen, though, because as fun as it is to play fantasy matchmaker, well, this stuff just doesn't play out the way we want it to in the real world. It should happen, though. It would be the best MMA card of the year.