Beginning with Friday’s event, the Strikeforce Challengers series will have a permanent home at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The nomadic lifestyle the series has carved out over the last two years is now a thing of the past, and providing the prospect rich events with a fixed addressed in Sin City makes perfect sense.
Since its inception in May 2009, the Challengers series has played to small crowds at small venues in small cities: Kent, Washington, Stockton, California, Bixby, Oklahoma. The Pearl at The Palms may continue the quaint setting trend, but bringing the events to the fight capital of the world should be good for business right out of the gates.
Local shows like Tuff-N-Uff and Superior Cage Combat both draw very well in Las Vegas. This move makes the Challengers series function like an additional local promotion, but on a slightly bigger scale with greater resources at their disposal. Unlike some of the previous venues, The Palms has put on countless events in the past and has always earned strong reviews on the shows they hold.
While stadium concerts might fill the coffers more, audiences usually love the night they saw their favorite band in an intimate setting with a couple hundred other people tops. That’s the feel of an event at The Palms.
By staying in one place, audiences are able to get familiar with emerging fighters working their way up the Strikeforce roster on the smaller shows. Young stars like Caros Fodor and Lorenz Larkin, Challengers series regulars, are given a chance to become local draws and establish themselves with fans prior to making the move the bigger events. Additionally, the remainder of the fight card can be filled out with talent from the surrounding area, fighters with local ties who can help put butts in seats.
The biggest positive though is the proximity to the home office and the proliferation of MMA media that already call Las Vegas home.
Let’s be honest: there weren’t a lot of outlets shuttling reporters to Cedar Park, Texas to cover Lyle Beerbohm versus Pat Healy. Shane del Rosario’s destruction of Lolohea Mahe didn’t cause a shortage of hotel rooms in Everett, Washington either.
By bringing the Challengers series to The Palms on a permanent basis, outlets already stationed in Las Vegas – like us here at HeavyMMA – will have no problem spending the odd Friday night seated in the press section, covering the event then returning to the comforts of our own beds at the end of the night. Chances are we won’t be alone in that endeavor either.
While previous events drew whatever MMA media lived in the area and a handful of usually under-informed local reporters, the shift to Las Vegas ensures increased coverage from knowledgeable and respected sources. You can’t put a price tag on good press.
Speaking of money, the shift to Las Vegas also means that without incurring much expense, Zuffa is able to execute each Challengers series event as a smaller version of the larger Strikeforce and UFC show.
Not that there were major problems in the past, but working out of The Palms with staff easily accessible should me things run even smoother going forward. Whatever criticisms you may have about Zuffa, you’ve got to admit they’re a well-oiled machine when it comes to executing events.
Overall, the decision encompasses an old axiom from billionaire cartoon waterfowl Scrooge McDuck: work smarter, not harder.
They’ve done just that Scrooge, and they should be seeing positive returns right away.