An Honest Look at the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Division

Earlier this week former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Mo Lawal stated the following regarding Strikeforce, "It's like a cancer patient, like a dying cancer patient. That's how I feel like the organization is. We're just waiting for it to die, to pass. As long as I can get my fights in and they're still around, I want to get them in." As Mo has a first hand perspective, it seems like an appropriate time to look at the Strikeforce light heavyweight division. 


Dan Henderson: The current unemployed champion. Henderson was unsuccessful in his bid to capture the middleweight belt but found success in the 205 division knocking out Renato Sobral and Rafael Cavalcante to become champion. Currently talking to the UFC about a deal and pushing for a title unification bout. Should that happen, it is safe to say that the Strikeforce division would be all but dead. 

Rafael Cavalcante: The former champion, Feijao has looked great since his loss to Mike Kyle under the EliteXC banner save for his title defense against Dan Henderson. His takedown defense was great against Muhammed Lawal, though there were questions about Lawal's health coming into that fight. Training partner of Anderson Silva, he's developed his Muay Thai to be the most effective aspect of his game.

Muhammed Lawal: King Mo began his career with five fights outside of Strikeforce. He's been on the shelf for over a year and ring rust could be a factor this weekend. He still has the best wrestling in the division and in his time off from MMA, he worked his kickboxing with Tyrone Spong. Recent said that Strikeforce feels like a cancer patient who is going die. A win over Roger Gracie this weekend would set Mo up with a legitimate case as the best light heavyweight under the Strikeforce banner.

Roger Gracie: Roger is arguably the best submission grappler on the planet and has legitimate skills on the mat. He's made improvements to his stand up but still feels most comfortable on the ground. The issue with Gracie is that since he doesn't need to fight for a living, he has limited experience in the cage. A win over Lawal this weekend could move him up the divisional ladder but the question is if he really wants that. 

Gegard Mousasi: Gegard has only fought four times in the promotion, spending most of his time fighting overseas in Japan for DREAM. Despite being one of the more talented fighter on the roster, he is only 2-1-1 with his last fight in Strikeforce a draw against Keith Jardine. Talented boxer and grappler, his focus as of late has been to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. 



Lorenz Larkin: Larkin made his Strikeforce debut as a late replacement for Satoshi Ishii on one week's notice. He has dynamic striking but hasn't developed the rest of his skill set. Strikeforce were and hopefully still are invested in his ongoing development as pushing him too quickly up the ladder could be detrimental.

Ovince St. Preux: St. Preux may be the best athlete in the light heavyweight division as a former D1 football player for the University of Tennessee. He's developed his all around game and has shown competency on both the feet and ground. He's being brought along slowly but it may be time to give him some better opposition. Currently 5-0 in the promotion.

Yoel Romero: Yoel Romero may be the only person in Strikeforce who has the wrestling to compete with Mo Lawal. An Olympic Silver Medalist, he is the very definition of a world class wrestler. Finally making his stateside debut after some visa issues, Romero will be able to immediately compete in the division. His age is a concern at 34 which would explain his booking against Feijao this weekend. A win would definitely push him to the top but how long can he stay there?

SBN coverage of Strikeforce Grand Prix: Barnett vs. Kharitonov

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