The great run of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) organization Strikeforce will come to a finish this Saturday, Jan. 12, in Oklahoma City. The Strikeforce promotion will cease operations and the fighters on the current roster will be merged with the Ultimate Fighter Championship. Strikeforce will go out with guns blazing with two champions on the main card, multiple former champions competing and Randy Couture’s son, Ryan Couture, on the undercard.
Heavyweight tournament champion Daniel Cormier -- hailing from Lafayette -- will be in a non-title bout in the co-main event. Also from Louisiana is Kurt Holobaugh, who will be fighting out of Denham Springs. Holobaugh will be on the undercard, making his Strikeforce debut against No. 1 contender Pat Healy on just 10 days’ notice. This is by far Holobaugh’s biggest fight to date and should secure a spot in the UFC with a decent performance. Fights will be shown live on cable television’s Showtime. The undercard will be on Showtime Extreme.
Nate “The Great” Marquardt vs. Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine
Nate Marquardt –Lander, Wyo., 6-0, 170 pounds, 35-10-2 (welterweight champion)
Tarec Saffiedine – Brussels, Belgium, 5-10, 170 pounds, 13-3-0
Current welterweight champion Nate Marquardt looks to keep his momentum going Saturday with another win while carrying the welterweight belt into the UFC. Marquardt was released from his UFC contract for not being cleared to fight in a main event of his last UFC bout. With that said, Marquardt wants all things positive to put him back in good graces with the UFC’s management. If he does all the right things, he might be able to walk into the UFC as the No. 1 contender to unify the Strikeforce and UFC welterweight titles. First things first, he has to take care of business and not overlook Tarec Saffiedine, who is on a three-fight winning streak and would love to waltz into the UFC with the belt wrapped around his waist.
Marquardt by TKO (Strikes)
Daniel “DC” Cormier vs. Dion Staring
Daniel Cormier – Lafayette, 5-11, 245 pounds, 10-0-0 (Strikeforce Grand-Prix heavyweight champion)
Dion Staring – Deventer, Netherlands, 6-1, 240 pounds, 28-7-0
Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament champion Daniel Cormier earned the title belt the hard way, starting from the bottom and competing in a tournament that included the very best heavyweights in the world, such as Fedor Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett, Andre Arlovski, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Alistair Overeem. Cormier was an afterthought when the tournament began with him on the roster as an alternate. The odds were stacked against him with what was thought to be much superior and more experienced fighters in the lineup. However, Cormier wasn’t the least bit intimidated. He had been in plenty of tournaments as an Oklahoma State wrestler.
“Wrestling at Oklahoma State helped me prepare, working with Mark Munoz and other guys,” Cormier said. “We would get in there and we would bang at each other for five or six days a week getting ready for the NCAA.”
Cormier has virtually gone from an alternate fighter in Strikeforce to the consensus No. 3 heavyweight in the world in just over two years. But what really stood out in winning the heavyweight division for Cormier was his striking ability. No one had any idea that he would be that dominant considering he picked it up training in the gym.
“I have great coaches at AKA (American Kickboxing Academy), Javier Mendez, Bob Cook. I’ve got a great bunch of standup coaches,” Cormier said.
Cormier dominated two Top 10 heavyweights on their feet in his past two fights, showing that he is just as dangerous on his feet as he is on the ground.
Standing at only 5-11, it has been brought up that Cormier will be making a transition to the light Heavyweight division and could be the next in line to face Jon Jones for the title if Jones wins his next fight.
“That’s not official,” Cormier said. “If I get past Dion, they just announced that the next Fox show is April 20 in San Jose, where I live now. I would love for Frank Mir and myself to fight on that card. That would be great for me.
“Light heavyweight, it’s an option for me, especially after hearing Dana (White) say I could be next to face Jon Jones at some point. With six months in between those (Frank Mir and Jon Jones) fights, I think I could get down to that weight so he and I could fight in the fall”
If Cormier is on his game and keeps his head, he should have no problem at all with Dion Staring Saturday.
Cormier by TKO (Strikes)
Josh “The War Master” Barnett vs. Nandor “The Hun” Guelmino
Josh Barnett – Seattle, 6-3, 250 pounds, 31-6-0 (Former UFC heavyweight champion)
Nandor Guelmino – Vienna, Austria, 6-3, 230 pounds, 11-3-1
One of MMA’s most underrated heavyweights, Josh Barnett, will also try to put on a show, knowing that Big Brother will be watching. Barnett was one of the first heavyweight champions in the UFC, but was stripped of his title for using a banned substance. Barnett would be a nice addition to the UFC roster, but his trouble with the state athletics commission didn’t stop with the UFC. Barnett was forced to pull out of a fight with Fedor Emelianenko, which at the time was billed as one of the biggest fights in MMA history. Barnett failed another test for a banned substance by the state athletic commission, which resulted in the cancellation of his bout with Emelianenko. This created a domino effect. The event was cancelled, which in-turn was so devastating it ended up forcing the entire promotion to close its doors for good. Barnett needs a great showing Saturday in order for the UFC to consider taking on his laundry list of problems.
Barnett by Unanimous Decision
Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle
Gegard Mousasi – Tehran, Iran, 6-1, 205 pounds, 32-3-2 (Former light heavyweight champion)
Mike “Mak” Kyle – Boise, Idaho, 6-2, 205 pounds, 19-8-1
Mousasi by Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Ed Herman vs. Ronaldo Souza
Ed “Short Fuse” Herman – Vancouver, Wash., 6-2, 185 pounds, 20-7-0
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza – Rio de Janeiro, 6-1, 185 pounds, 16-3-0 (Former middleweight champion)
Souza by Submission (Arm Triangle Choke)
Pat “Bam Bam” Healy vs. Kurt Holobaugh
Pat Healy – Salem, Ore., 6-0, 155 pounds, 30-15-0
Kurt Holobaugh – Independence, La., 5-11, 155 pounds, 9-0-0
Kurt Holobaugh comes from a great camp with solid trainers in Louisiana. However, he’s coming into this fight a heavy underdog on very short notice. Pat Healy has fought the Who’s Who of MMA, making this a defining fight for Holobaugh’s career.
“I’m just hoping to step up, and this is my chance to really be able to show them what I can do,” Holobaugh said. “Hopefully, I can get a win over a top guy like Pat Healy, but I really don’t think I can be denied”
The goal here is to no doubt come out victorious, but if he puts on a decent showing, even with a loss, the future will be very bright in his MMA career.
Other Undercard Bouts:
Roger Gracie vs. Anthony Smith
Tim Kennedy vs. Trevor Smith
Ryan Couture vs. K.J. Noons
Jorge Gurgel vs. Adriano Martins
Michael Bravo vs. Estevan Payan