When news broke that former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir would be moving over to Strikeforce to take on Daniel Cormier at an event later this year, initial reaction was shock.
After all, it was widely expected a much lesser heavyweight (hi, Tim Sylvia) would be signed and sacrificed to Cormier simply to fulfill his final obligations until moving over to the UFC.
Instead, it seems the two promotions, along with Showtime, collectively found a creative solution that serves the best interests of everyone involved. It's almost shocking how well put together this all is, actually, seeing as no matter the outcome, it's still a win for everyone.
First, the match-up itself. Mir is the perfect opponent for Cormier, seeing as he's in that weird spot right now where he's lost three consecutive championships fights but he's still widely regarded as a top fighter in the heavyweight division who could still feasibly make one more run at the crown, despite those three losses.
A victory over Cormier would certainly go a long way in putting him back on that track. Plus, think of the good will he's receiving for taking one for the team and heading over to Strikeforce for one fight. Mir is the only one taking a legitimate risk in all this, as a loss would set him back in a big way. Still, he's headed right back to the Octagon when he's done, so it's fine either way.
Let's talk about why this is also right for Cormier, the UFC, Strikeforce and Showtime after the jump.
At 10-0 and having just defeated Josh Barnett to win the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, Cormier's ascension through the ranks of the heavyweight division has come fast and furious but each step up the rung of the ladder has made sense. He's never skipped a step and made sure his feet were firmly planted before doing so.
That leads directly into how this is good for the world's largest fight promotion but also good for Strikeforce and Showtime. Mir may have lost some of his drawing power with the knockout loss to Junior dos Santos but he's still a widely recognized name that will bring eyeballs to Showtime.
In fact, don't be surprised if this show does the best ratings of any Strikeforce show on the channel in its history.
That's partially because of Mir's name but also because it will make much more sense now for UFC to put its full promotional muscle behind this event, which is scheduled to occur in October or November. Not only will it help ratings for Showtime, improving relations between the two sides, it will also bring more eyeballs to Cormier and Mir, who won't be sticking around Strikeforce once it's over.
In the event that Cormier wins impressively and the UFC wants to package him as the next top heavyweight contender, or even as the guy who will welcome back Alistair Overeem for a number one contender fight, they'll need to make sure as many fans see him win impressively as possible.
If all of that wasn't a big enough win for everyone across the board, this would seem to open the door for a Strikeforce fighter to move over to UFC, if only for one night. Perhaps this could even open the door for Luke Rockhold to challenge Anderson Silva in what could be billed as a superfight while the UFC middleweight division sorts itself out.
Now, unlike before, the possibilities seem endless. And that's a good thing.