Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier was over a year in the making, and finally culminated Saturday night, in the finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Daniel Cormier, a world level wrestler, took on Josh Barnett, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, and god of Catch Wrestling. For five rounds, the 5’10 Cormier, extremely small for the heavyweight division, showed superior striking, speed, and wrestling, and was able to earn a five round unanimous decision victory.
Daniel Cormier will fight once more in Strikeforce before having his contract transferred to the UFC. It is unknown at this point what Josh Barnett’s fate will be.
Also on the card, Gil Melendez once again defended his Strikeforce Lightweight title against Josh Thomson, in the rubber match of their 15 round series. This fight eclipsed the previous record of Frank Edgar and Gray Maynard’s 12 round record, with all of Thomson and Melendez’s fights being for the Strikeforce title.
Melendez earned a close win over Thomson, while many saw it going the other way. While none of their fights have been finished, Melendez and Thomson properly show up the way tactical MMA should be.
Other big winners for the week include “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, at UFC on Fuel, landing a major victory over Dustin Poirier, as a likely Featherweight title shot. The Korean Zombie has never looked more impressive than this week.
Donald Cerrone also bounced back in a big way against Jeremy Stephens, with a unanimous decision win. Just last year, Cerrone was one of a pool of several fighters vying for a UFC Lightweight Title shot, before being de-railed by Nate Diaz. Cerrone has obviously spent the last several months working on his footwork and striking, and showed it off in the bout against Stephens.
THE VIRTUOUS ONE’S VIEWPOINTS.
Wow. I can’t really say I’ve been as impressed with anyone, besides Jon Jones, to the level Daniel Cormier has impressed me over the past year. An Olympic level wrestler, Cormier has developed top notch striking at American Kickboxing Academy, and has climbed his way up to the #4 Heavyweight spot in the rankings, which can only improve, with UFC’s all-Heavyweight card this weekend.
Cormier was able to outwrestle Josh Barnett, which is no easy feat. His style is almost Fedor-esque, with the physique, quick, powerful strikes, and fearlessness. He will fit perfectly within the UFC’s Heavyweight division. Those asking him to drop to 205, give it up. Not happening, even if there’s a fire.
Where does Josh Barnett go from here? It’s no secret that he and Dana White have been on less than civil terms for much of the past decade. However, USA Today reported that he will have another fight in Strikeforce before heading to the UFC, being released, or whatever his fate may be. If he were to get released, I would almost guarantee a Bellator/TNA deal would be on the table for him.
Only weeks ago, people were clamoring for Gil Melendez to be transferred to the UFC. Showtime (Strikeforce’s partner), would have none of it though, seeing him as a major marketing tool for the brand. Those same people are now saying Melendez would be ‘destroyed’ by top 5 lightweights in the UFC. Need I remind you, he fought a man that had ten rounds worth of experience against him? I believe he’d fare well in the UFC, which is exactly where he’ll be after the remaining three fights on his contract are up. I’d like to see Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, who has been denied the two UFC title fights he was promised, make the transition and fight Melendez in one of those three fights.
Strikeforce’s current schedule makes for easy booking for the company, as they are running events bi-monthly, now. With 4-6 champions, this enables matchmakers to promote 2 title fights (and at minimum one) for each card, while also having two exciting undercard fights as well. The problem Strikeforce runs into is finding contenders for said titles. The Welterweight and Light Heavyweight titles are currently vacant, and losing King Mo didn’t help matters. With the future of Strikeforce uncertain, many fighters are likely hesitant to invest their time in the brand.
Finally, if you don’t have the Fuel network, get it. From the outstanding fight between Korean Zombie/Poirier, to one of the best clinch wars I’ve ever seen in Pokrajac/Maldonado, to exceptional UFC programming in general, it is well worth the upgrade. Do yourselves a favor and check it out.
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