In case you haven't heard, BROCKTOBER! has started in earnest, with Wednesday night marking the debut of UFC Primetime, the Spike TV show hyping the upcoming Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez fight at UFC 121.
I'm not a big fan of the whole Brocktober thing -- I'm actually more excited about Lyotovember, when I assume the UFC will offer fans hours of programming featuring detailed analysis of how Machida's precision striking will make him a difficult opponent for Rampage Jackson at UFC 123 -- but I am excited about the Lesnar-Velasquez fight.
That's really what we want as MMA fans: The promoters to give us fights that we're excited about. And that's what I was getting at a few weeks ago, when I questioned Josh Barnett for saying after he signed with Strikeforce that "Strikeforce is the home of the best heavyweight division in the world." Whether Strikeforce or the UFC has the better heavyweight fighters is less important than whether Strikeforce or the UFC has the better heavyweight fights. And on that score it's not even close.
If you're an MMA fan who watches everything -- all the Strikeforce cards on Showtime and CBS, all the UFC cards on pay-per-view and Spike and Versus -- there's no comparison between the quality of heavyweight fights the UFC is giving you and the quality of heavyweight fights Strikeforce is giving you.
Strikeforce has good heavyweight talent -- no one disputes that Fabricio Werdum, Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem are among the sport's elite fighters. And Strikeforce also has good heavyweights who are at the level just a step down from those guys, like Barnett, Brett Rogers, Antonio Silva and Andrei Arlovski. And Strikeforce has good heavyweight prospects, too -- Daniel Cormier might be the best heavyweight prospect in the sport.
But here's the thing: When 2010 is over, you know how many times we'll have seen those eight guys I just named? Three. Werdum-Fedor, Overeem-Rogers and Silva-Arlovski. That's the extent of the heavyweight fights Strikeforce is giving the fans in 2010 involving any of those eight guys, one appearance each for six of them, and nothing for Barnett or Cormier, who despite his status as a great prospect can't seem to find his way onto even one of the Strikeforce Challengers broadcasts.
The UFC, on the other hand, is preparing for the second appearance of the year for both Lesnar and Velasquez, and it keeps its other top heavyweights active as well. Junior dos Santos has already fought three times this year, and is now getting ready to fight the Lesnar-Velasquez winner. Shane Carwin, Frank Mir, Cheick Kongo, Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve, Mirko Cro Cop -- the UFC is putting all of them in front of the fans multiple times this year. Check out the full list below.
Yes, the UFC has its share of old guys whose bodies can only hold up for one fight a year, like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. And yes, the UFC puts on its share of heavyweight stinkers -- the last two heavyweight fights they promoted as pay-per-view draws, Randy Couture vs. James Toney and Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop, were two of the worst fights of the year.
But for as silly as the word "Brocktober" is, it's a marketing gimmick built around a great heavyweight fight. That's something we rarely see outside the UFC.
POSTSCRIPT: Here's a chronological list of all the heavyweight fights Strikeforce has televised this year, or plans to televise later this year:
Herschel Walker vs. Greg Nagy
Bobby Lashley vs. Wes Sims
Lavar Johnson vs. Lolohea Mahe
Alistair Overeem vs. Brett Rogers
Antonio Silva vs. Andrei Arlovski
Fabricio Werdum vs. Fedor Emelianenko
Shane Del Rosario vs. Lolohea Mahe
Chad Griggs vs. Bobby Lashley
Lavar Johnson vs. TBA
Herschel Walker vs. TBA
And here's a chronological list of all the heavyweight fights the UFC has televised this year, or plans to televise later this year:
Junior dos Santos vs. Gilbert Yvel
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Anthony Perosh
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Cheick Kongo vs. Paul Buentello
Junior dos Santos vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Shane Carwin vs. Frank Mir
Roy Nelson vs. Stefan Struve
Matt Mitrione vs. Kimbo Slice
Mike Russow vs. Todd Duffee
Ben Rothwell vs. Gilbert Yvel
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Pat Barry
Travis Browne vs. James McSweeney
Brendan Schaub vs. Chris Tuchscherer
Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin
Stefan Struve vs. Christian Morecraft
Junior dos Santos vs. Roy Nelson
Randy Couture vs. James Toney
Sean McCorkle vs. Mark Hunt
Matt Mitrione vs. Joey Beltran
Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop
Cheick Kongo vs. Travis Browne
Brendan Schaub vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez
Stefan Struve vs. Sean McCorkle
You tell me, MMA fans: Which list represents a better collection of fights?