For many of us this Saturday will mark a sad day for the mixed martial arts industry. One of the sport's most beloved promotions will finally shut its coffin and go into that eternal slumber where so many have gone before.
Strikeforce was the little promotion that could. Originally based in San Jose, Calif., they held their first event, "Shamrock vs. Gracie", in March 2006.
Led by promoter Scott Coker, who had an extensive background in promoting kickboxing, Strikeforce used local talent to build a successful brand and eventually signed a broadcast deal with Showtime in 2009.
Coker took their proven formula on the road and began applying the same strategy of success they found in San Jose to other parts of the country. They found local talent and help build them into recognizable names.
Legitimate stars were born; names like Melendez, Thomson, Diaz, Le, Tate, Cyborg, Rousey, Fedor, became household names in the MMA world.
Showtime, along with their parent company CBS, helped Strikeforce grow to to a point where some of us in the MMA world, including yours truly, even dared believe they were on their way to becoming a legitimate competitor to the UFC.
Then in Spring 2011, it was announced Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, had purchased Strikeforce. The news of the sale was disappointing to many because they knew what the inevitable outcome would eventually be -- despite all claims to the contrary by Zuffa executives.
Over the next year-and-a-half fighter injuries ran rampant, shows were cancelled and whole divisions of Strikeforce's roster of fighters were gobbled up by the UFC until all that was left was an organization no one seemingly wanted to be a part of, including the fighters and Showtime.
There will be a show this Saturday, January 12. "Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine" will air on Showtime's free preview weekend, so even if you don't currently subscribe to the premium cable network, this Saturday you can watch the final event of a once great promotion.
They almost did it. In a world dominated by the UFC one little promotion out of San Jose almost gave the giant a run for its money. They never quite made it, but on a good night when Cung Le and Frank Shamrock were throwing down, or the great Fedor Emelianenko was blasting Brett Rogers on CBS, or Gina Carano and Cyborg were ushering women's MMA into the main stream, anything felt possible.