Ronda Rousey photo by Tom Casino for Showtime
by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
Strikeforce has finally packed it in and Ronda Rousey is now an employee of the UFC.
While the UFC could use some competition to help boost fighter purses, in practice, Strikeforce was a poorly-run mess. I predicted that it would be dissolved prior to the ill-fated heavyweight Grand Prix that saw Fedor lose quickly and Overeem withdraw. Daniel Cormier, who got to jump in midway through as an alternate, defeated Josh Barnett in the finals.
Strikeforce definitely had its moments, put on some great cards and was the only place you could see females fight (which most recently resulted in the rise of Ronda Rousey’s always entertaining first round armbreaking). However, it was equally maddening to watch the few top fighters they have waste the prime of their careers against less than distinguished fighters. Gilbert Melendez in particular springs to mind as a guy that hasn’t had any quality competition as far back as I can remember.
Strikeforce plans to go forward with one final event in January, featuring pretty much everyone left that can possibly fight. They even matched Cormier against a light heavyweight named Dion Staring, who must have been the only guy they could plug in. After that, it’s curtains.
I have no idea how the UFC is going to handle this, but given that they put on so many fucking events, they’ll probably offer contracts to the obvious stars and plug the lower-ranked guys into undercard bouts to see how they do. Maybe the guys that are really green will be forcibly enrolled in the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Either way, it will be a nice infusion of talent and we’ll finally be able to see if some of these guys with a bunch of wins in Strikeforce are all they’re cracked up to be. I am especially suspicious of Melendez, who really looked awful against Josh Thomson, but some have ranked as high as second in the world. While Gilbert has a nice record, I think Gray Maynard would murder him and Donald Cerrone would give him a tough fight as well. So anyway, here’s my best outline of where I think the fighters will end up. Let me know in the bustling comments section below if I’ve missed anyone.
Heavyweight: Josh Barnett, Daniel Cormier. They’re the only two guys left I think. UFC Boss Dana White hates Josh, who has been caught juicing thrice, but Josh has a ton of fans and always comes to fight. And lets be honest, they’ll let just about anyone that is big enough get a fight or two in the Octagon at heavyweight. Cormier is a very fat, short heavyweight that will probably drop down to light heavy.
Light Heavyweight: King Mo is with Bellator now so forget about him. Gegard Mousasi, Rafael Cavalcante and Mike Kyle should make the cut. Ovince St. Preux might also get a shot. Dion Staring is fighting Cormier, and he’ll probably get smashed, but they should owe him one for taking that fight. Gian Villante is coming off a three-fight win streak
Middleweight: This is probably the deepest division in Strikeforce and the UFC could use the infusion of talent here. Passing muster are Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, Tim Kennedy, Roger Gracie, Lorenz Larkin, and Robbie Lawler (looked like shit lately, but he has name recognition). Lumumba Sayers, Anthony Smith and Derek Brunson will probably get plugged into undercards here and there. Not sure if they’d let Keith Jardine back into the UFC after he’s been dropped and has been fighting poorly.
Welterweight: Nate Marquardt is a great fighter on Dana’s bad side, but I have a feeling you’ll be seeing him back in the Octagon. They’re not going to let Bellator snap him up just because Dana’s pissed. Tyron Woodley and Jordan Mein should make the cut. Kazuo Misaki should get the call, as Dana can always use decent Japanese fighters. Tarec Saffiedine was slated to fight Nate, so I’m sure he’ll make it as well.
Lightweight: Gilbert Melendez, Pat Healy, Josh Thomson, Jorge Masvidal, Mizuto Hirota (need more Japanese fighters) all make the move. K.J. Noons is tough as nails and pretty popular with the fans, so I think they’ll take him as well.
Strikeforce doesn’t go any lighter than that.
Ladies: I think it’s basically going to be Ronda Rousey and whoever is willing to fight her to the UFC. Probably Cyborg once she’s off her suspension for overdoing it on the masculine hormones. Miesha Tate will likely get another shot as well.
Dana has been very circumspect about allowing females to fight in the UFC and with good reason. There really aren’t that many who are any good, as evidenced by a relative neophyte like Rousey ripping the arms off of decorated fighters in the first round every time. The women’s division needs time to develop, and if they put on shitty fights, it could be harmful for the future of the sport.