Strikeforce is a fun promotion with plenty of redeeming qualities. There are plenty of exciting fights to be had that, while filled with mismatches, provide entertainment for fight fans on the level of UFC.
But the writing, as they say, is on the wall. The promotion is losing top talent left and right and its contract with Showtime comes up early next year. That means every fight from every competitor within the company essentially doubles as an audition.
Such is the case tonight (Sept. 10) when Ronaldo Souza defends his middleweight championship against the unheralded and long forgotten Luke Rockhold at the "Barnett vs. Kharitonov" event in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Souza has the most to lose of the two. He's a hot commodity at the moment, what with his 185-pound strap and four-fight win streak over game competition. If he makes it five in a row, it will will push his record to 15-2 and put him in position for a jump to the UFC as an immediate top contender.
So while he's fighting to retain his own title, he may also be fighting for a chance at another.
Rockhold likely isn't looking that far ahead but it's something he must consider nonetheless. His predicament is a difficult one, though, filled with doubt.
His being placed into this spot wasn't necessary the most popular play but was necessitated by a lack of options. He's got an impressive enough record at 7-1 but he's just 26-years-old and has battled injuries for the past year-and-a-half.
Defeating Paul Bradley on a Challengers show all the way back in Feb. 2010 doesn't exactly inspire confidence in his chances.
But, as stated previously, he has an incredible opportunity. If he can avoid the jaws of "Jacare" and somehow manage to pull off the upset, he will set himself up for much bigger match-ups in the future. Even better, he'll be all set to jettison off to the world's largest fight promotion with a middleweight title around his waist.
The sky's the limit in Cincinnati tonight.