All good things must come to an end. In this case, the good thing is the Strikeforce promotion that has essentially served as a UFC feeder league, as well as a home for those high profile fighters on the Zuffa poo-poo list, since its inception. The California-based, Zuffa-owned promotion will lock its cage doors one last time Saturday night as “The Great” Nate Marquardt (32-10-2) defends his Strikeforce Welterweight Championship for the first and only time against dangerous submission fighter “Sponge” Tarec Saffiedine (13-3). Co-headlining the event is Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion Daniel Cormier (10-0) who will face “The Soldier” Dion Staring (28-7). “The Warmaster” Josh Barnett (31-6) will make his first appearance since losing in the finals of the Grand Prix as he goes toe-to-toe with “The Hun” Nandor Guelmino (11-3-1) in the anchor bout, and “The Dream Catcher” Gegard Mousasi (32-3-2) will face the always dangerous “Mak” Mike Kyle (19-8-1). Opening duties for the main card fall squarely on the shoulders of “Jacare” Ronaldo Souza (16-3) who looks to continue rebuilding his title dreams at the expense of “Short Fuse” Ed Herman (20-8).
Alas, the return of Spilled Bag of Ice and Patrick Guera! This time the guys chat it up about Nick Diaz’s medical condition and the ridiculousness of athletic commissions, Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier, the epic battle between “The Korean Zombie” and Dustin Poirier, and the upcoming all-heavyweight and all-awesome UFC 146.
Click here to listen to MMA Gospel Podcast # 3. Don’t be scared, homie!
The Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix has reached its conclusion and the result is one that none of the odds makers could have predicted. When the smoke cleared after a year of mixed martial arts action, it was an alternate, Daniel Cormier (10-0), who emerged the ultimate victor after dominating one of the sport’s most respected veterans in “Warmaster” Josh Barnett (31-6) for five full rounds. “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (21-2) retained his belt in a razor thin Split Decision in his rubber match against “The Punk” Josh Thomson (19-5). The pair of three-round affairs that opened the night’s action, however, took far less time to determine the outcome. “Feijao” Rafael Cavalcante (12-3) got revenge for his 2009 loss to “Mak” Mike Kyle (19-9) in just 33 seconds and “The Kiss” Chris Spang (5-1) added a third knockout to his resume in just over three minutes at the expense of “The Rock-N-Rolla” Nah-Shon Burrell (8-2). It was one of those rare nights where not a single bout disappoints.
—MAIN CARD (on Showtime)—
Heavyweight Grand Prix Final Fight
Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier: Cormier via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45), Round 5, 5:00
Lightweight Championship Fight
Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson: Melendez via Split Decision (48-49, 49-48, 49-48), Round 5, 5:00
Light Heavyweight Fight
Rafael Cavalcante vs. Mike Kyle: Cavalcante via Submission (Guillotine Choke), Round 1, 0:33
Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Chris Spang: Spang via KO (Punch), Round 1, 1:35
After much to do about fallen emperors and Ubereems, buy-outs, drops outs, upsets, and late replacements, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix has finally reached its conclusion, provided neither “The Warmaster” Josh Barnett (31-5) nor “DC” Daniel Cormier (9-0) has anything unexpected hinder their ability to compete in the match-up. In addition to the tournament finals, Strikeforce has booked a trio of bouts worthy of supporting the organization’s greatest endeavor to date. “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (20-2) will put his lightweight strap on the line against “The Punk” Josh Thomson (19-4) in the pair’s long-awaited rubber match. “Feijao” Rafael Cavalcante (11-3) will continue to recover from the loss of his title as he looks for a second straight win, and revenge, against “Mak” Mike Kyle (19-8-1). Opening the card, Challengers Series import “The Kiss” Christopher Spang (4-1) will seek redemption for his Strikeforce debut loss as he steps in the cage across from “The Rock-N-Rolla” Nah-Shon Burrell (8-1). It’s a strong card and it has been a long time in the making, and for fans it has a lot of live up to.
Is Joey Beltran’s mustache good for the sport? Does it make him look too Mexican? Does it alienate the non-Hispanic MMA fans? In case you haven’t picked up on it, I’m being sarcastic.
Back before I became an MMA journalist pundit …whatever the fuck it is I do, things were different. 98% of my Twitter followers didn’t know what MMA was or weren’t fans. Now, my Twitter feed is nothing but MMA fans. At first I enjoyed discussing upcoming fights and being in the loop on the latest news but coming up on two years since the birth of SBoI, I have to deal with the other side of it. The dark side… (cue over-dramatic music) A lot of MMA fans tend to over-analyze everything and make mountains out of molehills. Especially when it comes to what is or isn’t “good for the sport”. If some MMA fans obsessed over their children’s every action the way they do everything that happens in MMA, their kids would grow up to be neurotic freaks; possibly serial killers. MMA is gonna be fine. It’s time to cut the apron strings and let your baby grow up and you know, just try and enjoy it. Chael doing a Superstar Billy Graham isn’t going to ruin the sport. Relax. You have to realize that the so-called “casual” fans or potential future fans aren’t paying attention to all this minutia the way we sick bastards are. Anyway, feel free to continue being obsessed just try to do it with a sense of joy, passion, and humor rather than neurotic angst. If you can’t do that, try to keep it off my Twitter timeline. I’d appreciate it, you doughy wankers! (courtesy of @sonnench)
The Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix delivered its semi-final offerings last night before a stoked Cincinnati crowd. The card was full of upsets and unexpected results as well as a few tried and true performances from the fighters MMA fans have come to know over lengthy careers. The night opened with Sengoku vet Maximo Blanco (5-2) showing he still has never been awake during a rules meeting in his loss to former IFL stand-out “Bam Bam” Pat Healy (23-15) and continued with several bouts that raised more than a few eyebrows. “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal (8-1) handed submission grappling messiah figure Roger Gracie (4-1) his first loss in a match that saw neither ground specialist attempt a takedown. Luke Rockhold (8-1) took possession of the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship after winning a very debatable decision against “Jacare” Ronaldo Souza (13-3) and Daniel Cormier (8-0) played bracket buster in the Grand Prix by destroying heavily favored “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (15-3) in their semi-final bout. About the only match that went according to the status quo was “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett’s (23-5) widely predicted submission win over K-1 kickboxer Sergei Kharitonov (17-5).
—MAIN CARD (Showtime)—
Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov: Barnett via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke), Round 1, 4:28
Daniel Cormier vs. Antonio Silva: Cormier via KO (Punches), Round 1, 3:56
Ronaldo Souza vs. Luke Rockhold: Rockhold via Unanimous Decision (50-45, 48-47, 48-47), Round 5, 5:00
Roger Gracie vs. Muhammed Lawal: Lawal via KO (Punch), Round 1, 4:33
Maximo Blanco vs. Pat Healy: Healy via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2, 4:27
Despite the defeat of nearly every marquis fighter in the tournament, the fireworks are still promised to go off in Cincinnati, Ohio as Strikeforce presents the semi-finals of its World Heavyweight Grand Prix. The tournament started as a thinly veiled attempt to establish “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-4) as the number one heavyweight in the world by bracketing him opposite “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett (22-5) alongside the man who first defeated him, “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1), and the man everyone wanted him to fight, “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (32-12). Fedor was paired against underdog “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (15-2) to get a win so he could face the winner of Overeem and Werdum in the semi-finals then square off against the heavily favored Barnett in the finals. The only part of that plan close to fruition is Barnett making the finals. Silva trashed Emelianenko and now faces wrestling stand-out Daniel Cormier (7-0) in the semis. Cormier enters the Grand Prix as an alternate following Overeem’s withdrawal from the tournament. On the other side of the brackets, things are going much more smoothly as heavy favorites Josh Barnett and “The Russian Mercenary” Sergei Kharitonov (17-4) both easily advanced to the finals where they will meet on Saturday. The loss of Emelianenko and Overeem has robbed the tournament of much of its appeal to fans, especially casual fans unfamiliar with the other entrants, so the California-based promotion has slated a middleweight title fight between the incumbent “Jacare” Ronaldo Souza (13-2) and Luke Rockhold (7-1), who is undefeated in Strikeforce, as well as a contendership bout in the light heavyweight division between “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal (7-1) and Roger Gracie (4-0). The card will open with the main card return of grizzled vet “Bam Bam” Pat Healy (22-15) and Sengoku stand-out Maximo Blanco (5-1).
UFC 131: Dos Santos vs. Carwin
Michihiro Omigawa vs. Darren Elkins really, what can you say? Not only did the judges rob Omigawa with a Unanimous Decision nod for Elkins. One of these crackheads scored it 30-27. That’s like scoring the first round of Edgar/Maynard II 10-9 for Frankie Edgar. How do people that fuck up that bad still have jobs?
Dallas, Texas. It was only fitting that in a state where everything is bigger the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix would continue here. The Dallas Mavericks finally won their first title. The entire city and all its surrounding areas are still reliving that moment to the point every other song on the radio has some kind of Mavericks, “Thank you, Dirk” promo to precede the next track. The days leading into the Grand Prix though had the combat loyalists already staking claims and picking sides that even the minute leading to the fight was adrenaline-filled. As a fan of the sport, I have always found enough joy just sitting back at home or at the local sports bar watching my guys get the job done. It was not until I attended the Grand Prix, my first MMA event no less, that watching two men go at it in a high stakes brawl became an even greater experience.
Last night, Strikeforce graced the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, TX with the second installment of its World Heavyweight Grand Prix quarter-finals. The event was perhaps one of the ugliest events in recent MMA history with a fight-ending accidental eye poke and what appeared to be a dislocated elbow or possibly a seriously broken arm in the prelims and a main card that featured one extremely bloody fight and several one-sided beatdowns. To make matters worse, the main event saw “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (32-12) channel his inner “The Spider” Anderson Silva (28-4) against Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1) who felt a need to emulate Thales Leites (16-4). The main card itself was lopsided to the point that the match-making would be called into question had the fighters not have stacked so well on paper with “The Snowman” Jeff Monson (37-12), “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (27-22), “The Grim” Brett Rogers (11-3), and KJ Noons (9-4) suffering complete domination at the hands of Daniel Cormier (7-0), “The Grave Digger” Chad Griggs (10-1), “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett (22-5), and “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal (19-6) respectively. MMA Gospel is here with the post-fight shakedown.
—MAIN CARD (on Showtime)—
Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum: Overeem via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers: Barnett via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke), Round 2, 1:17
Jorge Masvidal vs. KJ Noons: Masvidal via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Daniel Cormier vs. Jeff Monson: Cormier via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Chad Griggs vs. Valentijn Overeem: Griggs via Submission (Strikes), Round 1, 2:08
Dallas, Texas has the basketball greats the Mavericks, the hockey stand-outs in the Stars, and multiple NFL Superbowl Champions the Cowboys, but on June 18 Strikeforce invades the American Airlines Center with the second half of their Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament with Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1 champion and seemingly unstoppable muscle-bound behemoth “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (31-12) taking on rival “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-4) at the helm. Supporting the edge-of-the-seat main event is a star studded card of heavyweights with international star “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett (21-5) taking on heavy handed “The Grim” Brett Rogers (11-2) and two Grand Prix alternate bouts. Former UFC heavyweight title contender and world renowned submission king “The Snowman” Jeff Monson (37-11) returns to the American spotlight as he is welcomed to the Strikeforce ranks by the undefeated OSU and Olympic team wrestler Daniel Cormier (6-0) and IFL veteran and heavyweight dark horse “The Grave Digger” Chad Griggs (9-1) meets former PRIDE veteran and kickboxing powerhouse “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (27-21). Outside of the tournament brackets, the return of the much loved “Conviction” Gina Carano (7-1) against undefeated Sarah D’Alelio (3-0) has been pulled due to Carano not receiving medical clearance from her doctor and as a result, former Elite XC Lightweight Champion KJ Noons (9-3) and “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal (19-6) will fill the spot with a shot for the lightweight title on the line. The tournament may dominate the card itself, but it is the match between Overeem and Werdum that has the attention of the MMA world as the first man to record a recognized legitimate win over “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-3) faces the man that MMA fans worldwide have wanted to see him face in a rematch of their 2006 PRIDE bout. Both fighters have come a long way since then; the dynamics have changed and it will be interesting to see which of these two warriors has progressed the most.