While Strikeforce’s train rolls through the year 2012, they’ve left a car at the railyard and it isn’t known whether it will be connected again. Any progress in the Strikeforce women’s featherweight division came to a screeching halt with the announcement of Cristiane Santos‘ failed drug test. Not only is the news disappointing, but the situations will cripple, if not end, the women’s 145 pound division in Strikeforce. However, that doesn’t HAVE to be case as there are still ways the division can be sustained, even with the news that Ronda Rousey is officially dropping down to 135 to fight Miesha Tate. Here are a few thoughts from my end on how to keep it going.
Here are a few humble suggestions on what Scott Coker and crew can do to dig the female featherweight division out of the hole it’s currently in:
1.) Keep and utilize Hiroko Yamanaka.
If Yamanaka is truly the #2 ranked featherweight in the world, as Strikeforce claimed, she’s obviously a major piece to the featherweight puzzle. Just because she lost to “Cyborg” so quickly and decisively does not discount what she can bring to the table. With Santos shelved for the next year, somebody of Yamanaka’s presence can help attract attention from all corners of the MMA world.
2.) At least TRY to build the division.
As I sat pondering who was in the women’s featherweight division, I counted four eligible fighters (Yamanaka, Julia Budd, Germaine de Randamie, Sarah D’Alelio) though I’m not sure how many of them are still under contract. For example, it sounds like D’Alelio may already be with Janet Martin‘s new Invicta promotion. In contrast, with Santos’ ongoing contract dispute, the featherweight division cranked only cranked out five fights all year involving seven total fighters. Within that period none occurred between the January 7 event and the June 24 Challengers card. Five public displays don’t bode well for any business in general, moreso for one struggling to stay afloat like this one.
It may even be worth seeing if any of the bantamweights are willing to move up to compete as well. Liz Carmouche, for example, is cuts 20 pounds to make weight and could probably compete at 145, not to mention that she’s got a good backstory to her that hasn’t been utilized enough. Martin’s aforementioned Invicta has already got Marloes Coenen, so if Zuffa actually cares, they may want to act fast before Martin signs all the best talent.
3.) Send Amanda Nunes back to 145.
When Nunes debuted against Budd her KO of the Canadian sent shockwaves around the MMA world and brought a new presence/energy to the featherweight division bringing a bunch of eyes on it again. She then promptly dropped down to bantamweight, and following a foot injury,\ lost to Alexis Davis. Nunes is young, talented, and can gift a hurting division with her knockout power and developing ground game.
4.) Crown a new champion as soon as possible.
Strikeforce and Zuffa will never know whether or not they can sustain the 145ers without giving the division a bit of legitimacy. Building it around somebody they see as a flagbearer is the most obvious way to create it. Announce a tournament, or something along those lines ASAP, and build momentum right away.
These all appear to be a pipe dream, because in the long run I expect that the featherweight division will be disbanded soo and all fighters under contract will either be released or expected to drop down. Still, it would be nice for Strikeforce to give it a final run over the course of a few events in 2012 to attempt to keep the weight-class alive. Just because Santos may have killed her career doesn’t mean they should let her take the division down as well.