Strikeforce and Zuffa, encompassing both the UFC and WEC, are adversaries, both competing for your MMA dollar and viewership. However, that doesn't mean that they can't learn from one another. Neither group makes their shows a perfect experience for fans, fighters and media, but they can definitely take inspiration from each other.
What Strikeforce can learn from the UFC and WEC:
-- Treat every fight and fighter the same. Give every fighter a full entrance with music, an introduction video and postfight interview. It may seem like a small thing, but during the undercard of Strikeforce:Lawler vs. Shields, the fights seemed to start out of nowhere. The fighters just showed up in the cage, and suddenly, the fighters were being told to meet in the center.
Not only that, treating every fighter like a star will make him or her want to be a star for your organization. After strong performance on the undercard at Strikeforce, wouldn't they want to keep Tyron Woodley, Mike Kyle and Jesse Finney around? The little things go a long way in attracting the best up-and-coming fighters.
-- Show as many fights as possible during the televised event. You know what people want to see when they tune into an MMA event? Fights. They want to see as many fights as possible. Give them that! There were tons of quick fights on the undercard. Wouldn't you have rather watched Kyle's knockout of Rafael "Feljao" Calvacante or Finney's destruction of Josh Bumgardner than an interview of Josh Thomson and Gil Melendez?
-- Cut out the catchweight nonsense, and make fighters defend their belts. Look, we realize that at the moment, Strikeforce's roster is on the thin side. But no fighter should take on the risk of a fight for it to mean nothing but a paycheck. Jake Shields has a title belt. It needs to be contested. Raid small promotions, pull some fighters from Japan, make more of the partnership with Affliction, do anything possible to avoid more nonsensical matchups.
-- Add the fighters' question and answer. I cannot say enough good things about the Q & A's for fans that are held in conjunction with the UFC and WEC weigh-ins. One or more fighter who is not on that weekend's card answers questions from fans, and I've always been impressed with the honesty that each fighter brings to the session, and their willingness to sit listen to each and every question.
What the UFC and WEC can learn from Strikeforce:
-- Make the weigh-ins more of an event for fans. The Strikeforce weigh-ins were held at a tent outside a popular bar, and attracted throngs of fans. Each fighter on the televised card was given a big introduction from Jimmy Lennon Jr., and given a chance to speak to the crowd. It felt much more fan-friendly than the UFC and WEC weigh-ins which consist of fighter one stripping down, stepping on the scale, fighter two stripping down, stepping on the scale, the fighters facing off for pictures, and quickly leaving the stage. That is exactly what you get at Zuffa fights, except that the fighters from the main event answer a question or two from Joe Rogan.
-- Come into the 21st century. Is it too much to ask for to have some statistics beyond the win and loss? Sports fans today are used to knowing everything from the exact point of a strike zone that a hitter is most likely to nail a pitch from, to the "first down line" to the likelihood a team will win when down by ten, five or two points. Why can't fight fans know the accuracy of strikes, percentage of submissions that were successful or learn statistically if a fighter is more likely to throw a punch, knee or elbow?
-- Loosen up a little. UFC and WEC events are tight ships -- almost too tight. They allow access to a small group of media when there are many more who have proven to be good, professional members of the media. If they screw up, then fine, toss 'em, but not allowing access isn't good for the UFC, WEC or MMA.