Three high profile main card fights from tonight's Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals card involved highly regarded BJJ blackbelts. To put it simply, they did not fair too well...but while the results varied, they did share common traits.
King Mo vs Roger Gracie - Roger Gracie is easily one of the best BJJ practitioners on the planet, boasting an impressive record of 65-7. On top of the great record, many of the men he has lost to he also holds victories over, and in several cases, Roger won more then he lost. Roger had been making a fair enough transition into MMA, although his competition was far from the best, he still found success in starting his career with a 4-0 mark with 4 submissions. King Mo was a big step up, but considering King Mo's long layoff that involved a major injury...I can't imagine there would be a more ideal version of Mo to put Roger up against, besides maybe the injured Mo that fought Feijao.
The Result? The truth hurts. A lot. In this day and age in MMA, you can't be specifically a specialist in one area and expect to dominate without working very very hard to round out your game. Roger Gracie couldn't last a round without being knocked out cold by King Mo.
Ronaldo Souza vs Luke Rockhold - 'Jacare' had solidified himself atop the Strikeforce Middleweight division with the defense of his title against Robbie Lawler. 11 of Jacare's 14 career victories came in the form of submission. His challenger, Rockhold, was absolutely taking this fight under less then prime conditions. Rockhold was kept out of competition for 19 months due to various injuries, and his return fight would be a five rounder against the most dangerous MW in the promotion.
The Result? Souza had a lot of trouble getting the takedown and was able to do very little on the rare occasions he achieved it. For the remainder of the fight, while he had his moments, he was outpointed on the feet.
Antonio Silva vs Daniel Cormier - Antonio Silva is huge, there is a reason they call him bigfoot. His size and BJJ skills have proven to be a very lethal combination in the past. Tonight he faced Daniel Cormier, a top of the food chain wrestler whom Silva boasted height, weight, and reach advantages over.
The result? Cormier's striking was fast and powerful, and even with his size, Silva showed to have very little chance of getting Cormier down to implement his BJJ. Cormier also wanted no part of being in Silva's guard. Silva was forced to stand and get brutally knocked out in less then 4 minutes. What Silva displayed in this fight made me do a huge re-evaluation over how much success I believe he would have against a mega striker and notorious finisher like Alistair Overeem. Spoiler alert: Not very much.
There were similar threads in the fights. The BJJ Blackbelts had a rough time with takedowns in 2 of the matchups(I don't believe Roger ever went for a takedown) while inferior striking played a role in all 3 fights.
But beyond BJJ Blackbelts, simply expanding the view to Brazilians, it was a rough night. Brazilians went 1-5 tonight, not fun.
As far as the rest of the card: Pat Healy won in a classic veteran vs up and comer type of matchup while Josh Barnett did what Josh Barnett does. I still am not a fan and I still hope he gets crushed.
As far as the GP as a whole, I've sincerely lost interest. The idea of Barnett winning and potentially returning to the UFC in high profile matchups REALLY pisses me off...but the idea of Cormier winning, coming to the UFC, and potentially having a Fitch-Koscheck 'we won't fight' scenario with Cain Velasquez just seems frustrating. The heavyweight division is too thin for shenanigans like that.
As far as prelims go, we saw new arrivals received a mixed bag of results. Jordan Mein made a successful debut against Evangelista Santos(BJJ blackbelt) while Marcos Rogerio De Lima and Yoel Romero Palacio both fell in their debuts to Mike Kyle and Rafael Cavalcante, respectively. Alexis Davis also pulled off a big win over Amanda Nunes.
All in all a solid night of fights.