POSTED ON JANUARY 9, 2013:
Exciting event planned in that other city
The number two mixed martial arts promotion in the world comes to an anticlimactic end this Saturday night in Oklahoma City.
So many storylines we can run with. The built-in homecoming angle for one-time Oklahoma State wrestler Daniel Cormier? How about the demise of yet another Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor once President Dana White got involved?
Maybe the fact that a global MMA promotion would choose Oklahoma City over Tulsa. Yes. Let's start right there.
As some of you may know, I do a guest spot on AM1430 The Buzz's Big Show every Friday at 2:30pm. A couple of weeks ago, I argued with co-host Jeremie Poplin about the merits of having the Strikeforce card in Tulsa versus the Oklahoma City market.
His argument was simple. They deserved it. He may be correct. But I doubt it.
OKC fills the Chesapeake Arena for Thunder games regularly. The NBA team has certainly brought notoriety to our state with their phenomenal play and likable characters.
The team wins. You are almost guaranteed an exciting evening so I'm not sure how much credit the city gets for filling the arena.
UFC Fight Night 19 took place in OKC in September 2009. Not a huge event, but a little taste of the top promotion. The Cox Convention Center provided plenty of seats. Most of the seats in my area were filled with -- you guessed it -- Tulsans.
I was surrounded by the same faces attending the XFN shows and KOTC shows. We drove two hours to hang with the same group of fight fans.
Why Tulsa over OKC? The reasons are as plentiful as Salvation Army buckets during the holidays.
How about history? UFC 4 back in 1994 took place at the Expo Center Pavilion. We were supporting the product before it was cool.
Do not overlook the fighters from the Tulsa area who have represented our city inside the Octagon. Tulsa pioneer Mikey Burnett was the first to compete, but he certainly was not the last. The list is impressive: Gerald Harris, Josh Bryant, Daniel Roberts, Shane Roller, Matt Wiman, and David Heath. Apologies to any left off the list.
Does it matter? Should the fact that Tulsa sends this many top-level fighters to the big stage mean the show should be ours? Yes.
These local martial artists have a built-in fan base. When Josh Bryant headlines a KOTC card, Tulsans show up. When Randy Blake or Trey Houston is the main event at The Joint, we turn out in huge numbers.
We routinely sell out casino shows by local and regional promotions. Check the calendar for several of your favorite Tulsa casinos and chances are a fight card is coming up soon. They are not putting on these fight cards for empty seats.
Then there was the Pollstar report two months ago listing Tulsa's BOK Center as the thirteenth best venue in the United States. Thirty-sixth in the world if you are scoring at home.
Where was the Chesapeake Arena on the list? Great question. They only listed the top 200.
The Strikeforce card Saturday night, which is being billed as a super card, is only above average. Many of the top fighters in the promotion opted out of competition with various injuries. Why put yourself in harm's way for a promotion closing the doors when you leave the cage?
The headline bout could be fun. Nate Marquardt faces Tarec Saffiedine. The winner departs the company as the final 170-pound champion is its history. That's a feat for sure.
The co-main event features Daniel Cormier battling veteran Dion Staring. All eyes will be on Cormier, who is an undefeated heavyweight battering-ram. His wrestling pedigree speaks for itself but his striking is downright scary at this point.
If Strikeforce could have found a more suitable opponent, this would have the MMA world on its collective toes. Instead, we wait for his debut with the UFC.
Several other notable fighters are on the card. There will always be interest in heavyweight Josh Barnett. His interviews are polished. He is a beast in the cage. You never know what the wily vet will try and pull off.
Banger Mike Kyle will swing for the fences against technical striker Gegard Mousasi. Tim Kennedy, Ryan Couture, and Roger Gracie round out the guys to keep an eye on.
No female bouts schedule is a huge disappointment. The girls bring it. They have given Strikeforce an appeal over the years no other promotion could touch.
Gina Carano, Miesha Tate, Cyborg, and of course Ronda Rousey have wowed audiences and stolen every show they participated in.
So here is some advice you did not ask for. Stay home on Jan. 12. Watch on Showtime for free or hit up a buddy paying for the channel.
Let's see how Oklahoma City fills the arena without the influx of Tulsans carrying the MMA day.
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