Daniel Cormier's win over Josh Barnett at last night's Strikeforce : Barnett vs. Cormier was the end of an era. Barnett being slammed and punched and completely outmatched by the former Olympic wrestling hopeful was the last guttering flicker of the light that once illuminated the world-wide mixed martial arts landscape. I refer of course to the legendary Pride Fighting Championship's Heavyweight division.
From 2000 when Mark Coleman won the first Pride Open Weight Grand Prix and became, for the 2nd time in his career, the MMA lineal heavyweight champion, until the beginning of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2011, Pride veterans reigned at the top of the division.
That era is no more. Let's run through the leading lights of the Pride HW's and review where they are today:
- Fedor Emelianenko: The Last Emperor was uncontested at the world's best Heavyweight from March 2003 when he defeated Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira until he was submitted by Fabricio Werdum in June, 2010. He went on to lose two more fights before being cut by Strikeforce and becoming largely irrelevant in the HW picture.
- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: Remained the world's #2 HW with only occasional slips to #3 until he lost to Frank Mir at UFC 92. He fought his way back to relevance only to allow a stunned Mir to come back and break his arm at UFC 140. He's 2-3 in his last 5 fights.
- Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic: When Cro Cop came to the UFC in 2007 he was expected to immediately take over the HW division. Instead he got head kicked by Gabriel Gonzaga in his second UFC bout and went on to put together a 4-6 record in the UFC before leaving the promotion as a spent force in MMA.