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Posted on May 9, 2012 by Jack Thurman
Ever since it was purchased by UFC parent company Zuffa LLC the Strikeforce promotion has clearly been relegated to ‘stepchild’ status. With Zuffa barely able to keep the UFC train on the rails, Strikeforce has been neglected and at this point appears to exist only to allow the promotion of women’s MMA without having it sully the ‘integrity’ of the octagon.
The next Strikeforce event will take place in San Jose, California headlined by the final of the seemingly never ending heavyweight GP. It may not have worked out exactly as planned but it did produce a compelling final match between well traveled veteran Josh Barnett and former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier. The semifinal match on the card will be a title defense by Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
In the main event Barnett is a -125 favorite over Cormier–a price that seems short given the disparate experience of the two men. Barnett is something of a pariah among UFC partisans primarily because Dana White doesn’t like him. Besides that, the part time pro wrestler has an enviable resume with a very impressive 31-5 record. His losses have come to the very top of the food chain–Pedro Rizzo in 2001 when he was a monster, Mirko Cro Cop three times when he was the most feared striker in the sport and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira when he too was in his prime. Barnett’s submission wrestling based fighting style is a tough matchup for any opponent–he has an almost endless assortment of submission maneuvers that unlike BJJ submissions are very difficult to defend unless an opponent has trained in the discipline. Should Barnett win he’s reportedly been offered a return to the UFC despite his acrimonious relationship with Dana White.
Cormier is an exceptional amateur wrestler, but Barnett is a very difficult matchup for him for several reasons. Barnett has become a better striker throughout his career and his height allows him to use punches to set up takedown attempts. A bigger problem for Cormier is what happens when the fight gets to the ground–he may have the wrestling ability to control Barnett but he’ll have to defend a sickening array of heel hooks, arm bars, leg locks and other catch wrestling submission holds.