Strikeforce Heavyweights Descend on New York, Promote Grand Prix

Can these men turn Strikeforce into a legitimate rival to the UFC with their heavyweight tournament?

Strikeforce's promotional event to hype this weekend's Grand Prix kickoff was a success.

MMA Fighting's Mike Chiappetta reports that the event held at the Roseland Ballroom to promote the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix was a smashing success. That isn't solely in terms of fan attendance for the event (roughly 2,000 showed up), but it will likely add heft to ticket sales efforts that are apparently already doing extremely well:

By all accounts, things should get off to a rocking start. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, ticket pre-sales are the strongest since Strikeforce has teamed up with Showtime and M-1. A crowd between 12,000-15,000 is a possibility as Strikeforce continues its expansion and makes its northeast debut.

The contribution is minor, but holding large scale events in New Jersey that are promoted in New York can only help pressure relevant audiences to consider legalization.

Lots of good media to take in. First, Ariel Helwani talks to Alistair Overeem. "The Reem" gives Fedor a 60 percent chance of winning, although the actual odds are significantly higher:

There are more interviews to catch including this with Andrei Arlovski and an overall look at the event itself.

The entire question surround Strikeforce and this entire tournament is if it can buoy the promotion for the duration of the fights. A strong start is nothing bad. The issue is will Strikeforce be able to get enough luck and use whatever promotional heft they possess to keep fan interest high? There's no way to tell at this juncture.

It's hard to know what to make up Dana White's jejune attitude. Is it that he ultimately doesn't see this event as competition (unlikely) or that he's resigned to the fact there's huge interest in it? What's most curious to me is that he hasn't as openly challenged the notion that the tournament winner is the number one heavyweight in MMA as I thought he would.

We'll be live at Strikeforce this weekend covering the event. What we'll be monitoring then as well as this weekend is to what extent this tournament elevates the promotion's brand and fan awareness. So far, so good.

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