Coker: Without Strikeforce 'the fans will get to see the fights they want'
KJ Noons started fighting for me when he was 16 years old. MMA wasn't even legal in the state of California and here's this 16-year-old kid who shows up for a kickboxing show and I ask him who old he was and he said, "I'm 16." I said, "Well, you can't fight." He says, "No, no, no. My dad is in the audience and the commission said that if my parents signed a waiver, that way I could compete." So, I call the California commission and said is this true and they said yeah. His dad wanted him to fight so his first fight with me was when he was 16 years old here in San Jose.
And Ryan, he's such a great guy, comes from a great fighting legacy with his dad [UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture] and everything.
There's one more fight that's really interesting to me on the card and that's the Gegard Mousasi against Mike Kyle. These two guys have personal beef, and anytime you've got fighters with personal beef, it's always a great match up. They definitely don't like each other.
When I think back at Strikeforce and the pillars of the company as far as fighters go, it was really Frank Shamrock, number one -- he was already a mixed martial arts star. He was our biggest star when we first started back in 2005 organizing mixed martial arts. And then Cung Le, Gilbert Melendez, and Josh Thomson. Cung Le has been fighting for Strikeforce since 1997. When I think of the fights they've had to build this company and the great matchups, I'll be forever in debt to them because they've really put [themselves] on the line and really help this brand grow and this brand rode their shoulders over the last five, six years.
The Gina Carano-Cristiane Cyborg Santos fight was the first five-minute-round fight allowed in the history of California. Even when the males were going to fight in March, the women were not. It took time for the commission to come around and make it happen.
That Carano-Cyborg fight was another pinnacle in the history of our company.
Like I tell all of my friends, because a lot of people are asking me how I feel, I say this is a moment of celebration. This is a moment that took me 27 years to get to this point and I'm going to celebrate it. Saturday night we're going to celebrate the event and the history of Strikeforce and all the fights that have happened and all the great fighters and just the company as a whole.