Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Strikeforce closed their doors as they crowned a new Welterweight champion.
Strikeforce is over and done with, never again will we see the red and blue gloves on Showtime. It was a long, drawn out death and while the WEC went out with a bang, Strikeforce went out with a sizzle. While the exact number of fighters making the move to the UFC is unclear, at the very least Strikeforce's demise will provide the UFC with a much needed injection of new talent and fresh faces to some key divisions.
The Heavyweight division gets Dan Cormier and possibly Josh Barnett, Gegard Mousasi will go to Light Heavyweight, Middleweight will add Jacare Souza and Roger Gracie, and the new Strikeforce Welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine will move over as well. While Welterweight is stacked with young talent, the other three weight-classes are desperate for some new fighters to put in front of the masses and this last Strikeforce show will add to the highlight reels of these fights.
How exactly this fighters fare in the UFC will doubtless by the subject of countless discussions moving forward, but lets look back at the final fights of Strikeforce.
- Clearly I underestimated Tarec Saffiedine both as a striker and a counter-wrestler when picking this fight. He stuffed every take-down Nate Marquardt had to offer. Maquardt's relentless pursuit of the take-down caused him to slow enough in the later rounds for Saffiedine to go to work with those nasty leg kicks. Saffiedine stopping the take-downs clearly threw Marquardt's whole fight plan into disarray as he was unable to mount any real offense in this fight and soon the leg kicks took away any ability he had to close distance. Marquardts leg was as bad as Jose Aldo's destruction of Urjiah Faber's leg or Edson Barboza's leg kick TKO of Mike Lullo, but it was still pretty brutal. The first two round were slow, but Saffiendine won all the rounds on my card and looked like a solid addition to the UFC Welterweight shark tank.
- Daniel Cormier went to work on Dion Staring, taking the first round by 10-8 on my personal card and then finishing it in the second with strong ground-and-pound. There didn't seem to be much room for criticism but there was quite a bit of moaning about how long it took Cormier to finish the fight. Cormier's record speaks for itself and he took Staring apart in every aspect of the fight game, and was even experimenting with some submission offense, as he tried to set up a few arm locks. It was a fight Cormier took his time with and experimented a little, and those who are quick to criticize it should take a step back and watch it again. The other big compliant heard was the strikes to the back of the head, but I they were not an intentional tactic of Cormier's but rather the result Staring moving wildly as Cormier punched.
- Josh Barnett did what Barnett does: Got a take-down, scored a nice submission win, and then talked trash poorly. His bad mic work, and yes it is bad, isn't enough to keep him out of the UFC however, he is a legitimate top 10 heavyweight with the skills to give almost all the UFC Heavyweights real problems. Clearly I'd favor Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos to trounce him but I'd love to see Barnett tussle with Frank Mir, Fabricio Werdum, or the rubber match with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
- Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo Souza both looked great. They are both instant contenders when they cross over to the UFC, Mousasi a little further away from a title shot, but both are well rounded, talented, and hitting their stride. Jacare dominated Ed Herman and I cannot wait to see him get into the UFC's middleweight division.
- Ryan Couture did not beat K.J. Noons. It was the low point of a night that featured some horrid referring and judging. While Couture was game there was no way Noons didn't win all three rounds. Also terrible was Mark Carter stopping Herman and Jacare because of an illegal up kick and then standing the fight standing up and basically rewarding Herman for using an illegal technique. Also Don Turnage missed Mike Kyle tapping out to Mousasi's choke and double clutched on stopping the fight. All in all, I sincerely hope the UFC will never go to Oklahoma City for the fighter's sake.
- Tim Kennedy won a pretty bland fight and will likely cross over to the UFC based on personality but I'm not sure he sticks around long.
- Roger Gracie got off to a slow start but once the fight hit the mat it was all over for Anthony Smith. There was some strong reaction to Roger's slow start, but it was not like Smith was landing heavy strikes, or really any strikes. While it wasn't thrilling I don't this fight revealed anything that shows Roger can't replicate some of Demian Maia's middleweight success. He will never be a title contender in the UFC but Roger has a chance to beat anyone you put in a cage with him because of his jiu jitsu.