Earlier today we started a fun project to pick five fighters from each division in Strikeforce that should be brought into the UFC if Strikeforce were shut down today. We started out with the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions, now we go through 185, 170 and 155.
Again, the one rule is: you must pick no fewer, and no more, than five fighters in each division.
Here are my picks. Share yours in the comments.
Luke Rockhold - The Strikeforce champ, a very personable guy and possessing a whole lot of talent. Rockhold is a no brainer, but he has to be handled carefully. He is only 26 and could be one of the guys in the running to replace Anderson Silva as the top 185'er in the world in a few years, but a few fights to build him up before throwing him in against Silva or Chael Sonnen makes a lot of sense.
Tim Kennedy - Sometimes we have a little fun at Tim's expense. He is overly serious sometimes ("It's JUST BLOOD!") and it makes for a laugh, but he's a good fighter and an easy guy to promote.
Ronaldo Souza - There are just so many interesting fights for Jacare in the UFC. He'd be the favorite to catch Sonnen with a submission, wouldn't he?
Robbie Lawler - Dana White loves Robbie Lawler. He may be 2-4 since 2009, but his style is fan friendly and I think Dana and the UFC would enjoy getting the last few wars left in him out in their cage. Plus, there aren't a lot of good 185'ers in Strikeforce.
Derek Brunson - I guess I'm going on hope here. Brunson trains with good camps, has wrestling credentials and has gone 8-0 while finishing 7 of those bouts. He's better than most of the guys that get on TUF these days and may be able to make some noise.
Benji Radach - Fought once in 2008, once in 2009, once in 2010 and is 1-3 in his last four fights.
Scott Smith - I just don't want to see Smith get punched in the head anymore. He's had enough wars in his career, there's no need for him to finish out his career getting knocked out in the UFC.
Follow after the jump for welterweights and lightweights.
Nate Moore - 7-2 record with seven finishes. When he doesn't get the finish, he gets finished. At the very least, he's entertaining.
Tarec Saffiedine - Saffiedine is a lot of fun and only lost to Tyron Woodley during his time in Strikeforce. I could see Tarec becoming a staple of FX shows.
Jason High - High only got one shot in the UFC and that loss to Charlie Brenneman doesn't look very bad given Brenneman's defeat of Rick Story. I'd pick High to get a decision win over Dan Hardy at this point.
Roger Bowling - I'd take Bowling or I'd take Voelker. I'm not taking both of them.
Paul Daley - I'm just assuming Paul doesn't get to return to the UFC. If he does, I'd replace Voelker with him.
Jorge Masvidal - He's a fun fighter, he's young and he always comes to put on a show. Masvidal would make for very entertaining fights with a number of UFC lightweights, even if he isn't a top level fighter.
KJ Noons - He looked bad against Masvidal, but he's been very good at lightweight in his career and fights in the "fan friendly" style the UFC loves. I'd pay to see Noons vs. Melvin Guillard or Noons against Nate Diaz given the Noons/Diaz family history.
Justin Wilcox - Constant improvement and a solid record. Wilcox is a tough out for anyone at 155.
Gilbert Melendez - This one is obvious. He's one of the top fighters in the world and holds the title. No explanation needed.
Caros Fodor - Grinding, hard working fighter who doesn't show signs of ever being elite, but he is just one of those scrappy guys that will work his way to wins in some fights you fully expect him to lose.
Billy Evangelista - He's a tough fighter but he has one stoppage win in his last ten fights, not a trait I like to see in a guy fighting mid-tier Strikeforce talent.
Conor Heun - Heun is fun to watch but he's not all that good. I don't think he could last a year in the UFC without getting cut.
Gesias Cavalcante - Since 2008 he is 2-3 (2 NC). Both of those wins were split decisions. That's simply not good enough.
Josh Thomson - I probably could have included him, but he is 33 with limited upside and a somewhat inconsistent schedule.