Daniel Cormier is one Strikeforce heavyweight who is projected to make some noise in the UFC (Photo by Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com).
Written by Chris Cox (@CoxFight), Contributing Writer
Here lies Strikeforce MMA. Born March 10th, 2006. Deceased on July 12th, 2013. The UFC has taken home the head of one more competitor in the MMA world, and with it another set of fighters fully. We already had some Strikeforce fighters making the crossover. Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Dan Henderson, Jason Miller and most recently Derek Brunson. The UFC has crushed any and just about all competitors that have tried to step up to them. Some of them, most people don’t even remember, like Affliction MMA. All except for Bellator still stands. Strikeforce of course did not go down in vain. It had many great events and some spicy drama for the MMA world. The final event they displayed, while exciting, was surely not bringing in the ratings. Some of the fighters of that event I will be discussing in this and how I cannot wait to see them in the UFC. With its death, what can we expect to happen? Good news folks, the moves have already started and the contracts are already in work.
Every day, reports of new fighters are staying with Zuffa and big fights. Best fight so far is going to be at UFC on Fox 7, a lightweight matchup between the defunct Strikeforce Champion Gilbert Melendez versus the current UFC Champion Benson Henderson. I love this fight. Period. Benson Henderson brings a mass amount of excitement into his fights, and so does Melendez. I feel both of these guys are fantastic on the ground with wrestling and BJJ. Usually, we get the old MMA saying that two wrestlers are the best to watch because they don’t go to the ground. They just stand and bang. If it goes to striking, I will give the edge to Henderson with his background, but either way this is promised to be a good fight. Second fight for that card is going to be Daniel Cromier versus Frank Mir. This fight was supposed to happen back in November at Strikeforce 62 but met cancelation. Cromier closed his Strikeforce career out with a dominating performance and TKO of Dion Staring. He is a heavy-handed All American NCAA Division 1 wrestler, so he is looking very forward to taking Mir to the ground and delivering a beating. I stand by the remark that Mir is one of the best BJJ practitioners in the heavyweight division, and the sport in general, so Cromier taking him to the ground will make his day. However, the deciding factor is going to be if Mir can do what needs to be done when he is put there. He faced a big wrestler in Brock Lesnar and walked out in some pain.
Just these two fights alone get me stoked for what is to come from the remains of Strikeforce. The addition of Gegard Mousasi into the light heavyweight divison is going to be a big hit to me. He is a very exciting kick boxer and Judo practitioner who does not like going to decision and has only done it four times in his 33-win career. He is a former Dream and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, along with being a Dream Grand Prix Champion as both a middleweight and light heavyweight. Match up that works? Alexander Gustafsson. Alexander is coming off an absolute beating of Shogun Rua. They are both on the quest for gold, and this is a matchup that can greatly help both of them.
The last two fighters from the even that I can see making big impacts are Josh Barnett and Nate Marquardt. Josh Barnett is very famous in the heavyweight world to the hardcore MMA fans. Back in the day, he won UFC gold but was stripped of it due to banned substances. He brings the party when he comes to that ring, and the UFC needs excitement in its heavyweight division. They need Josh Barnett. He can sell a fight on the same level as Chael Sonnen. Who do we match him up with? The big Frenchman Cheick Kongo or the kick boxing wrecking machine Pat Barry. Nate Marquardt is the former King of Pancrase and a now former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion thanks to his loss at this final event to Tarec Saffidene. Nate was a big contender in the UFC, facing some of its best in the middleweight division before his drop to welterweight. He was kicked out of the UFC due to very high testosterone levels before a fight. It was all medical related, so it was not Nate trying to cheat. It was a UFC release that has never set well with me, so he needs to be a guy you bring back even with the loss. He comes into the ring every time and leaves it there. He gave his all in this final event and is on crutches for the amount of leg kicks he took during that fight.
There are many fighters you can look to make the crossover into the UFC. These were just the key ones that stand out to me. A list of hungry fighters looking to make a huge statement:
• Tyron Woodley
• Tarec Saffidene
• Josh Thompson
• Luke Rockhold
• Ronaldo Souza
• Tim Kennedy
• Kj Noons
• Ryan Couture
Not to mention we have a whole list of female MMA fighters who are looking to show that women know how to fight on the biggest stage of them all.