Daniel Cormier (L) and Gilbert Melendez (R) emerged as the big winners from Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier" in San Jose, Calif., on May 19, 2012.
Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier" featured eight fights, including four preliminary match ups from the event that was held in San Jose, Calif., on Sat., May 19, 2012.
With that said, there were really only two fights that garnered national attention. Those, of course, being the title fights between Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier (for the Strikeforce Heavyweight grand prix championship) and the rubber match between Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson.
In the main event, Cormier took control of the fight from the opening horn and never let go. After five rounds of inflicting damage on his opponent, Barnett, Cormier was given the well deserved unanimous decision nod and the Strikeforce belt.
Melendez notched a somewhat controversial split decision win in the co-main event. He took home the victory, but his stock as a mixed martial arts (MMA) lightweight definitely plummeted a bit.
Let's look into the crystal ball and discuss what might be next for the big winners from last night, Daniel Cormier and Gilbert Melendez.
The win and the belt for Cormier come somewhat bittersweetly. The analogy seems akin to that of a tree falling in a forest with no one there to hear it.
If a man holds a belt, but there's no one left in the division to defend it against, does it matter?
Don't get me wrong. Cormier's win over Barnett matters plenty. It was a huge coming out party for "DC," and says much about how far he's come and where his career is headed.
But where does he go from here?
It's almost one hundred percent certain that a contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will be coming soon. On the one hand, it means Cormier is starting all over from scratch. But on the other, it means he'll be fighting the best in the world and getting a chance to show just what he can do against the "cream of the crop."
There are a lot of good options available.
Mark Hunt had to pull out of his UFC 146 match up opposite Stefan Struve due to an injury. But the "Super Samoan" won't be on the shelf forever. By the time Cormier is all healed up and ready to go again, Hunt should be in the clear.
Can you imagine the massive amount of bombs that would be exchanged between Cormier and Hunt? I'm in love with the fight and it hasn't even been booked yet.
Shoot, I might even start a Kickstarter campaign just to fund it. Anybody else care to join?
Gilbert Melendez has been telling us all for a long time that he's the bets lightweight in the world. As far as he's concerned, he shouldn't have to go anywhere else to fight the best. They should come to him. At least that's what he's been trying to sell us.
Look, I'm not trying to disrespect Josh Thomson, but no one is putting "The Punk" in the top ten. No one. Yet, for five rounds, it was hard to tell who was the clear-cut better fighter.
Do you think Ben Henderson would have had the same dilemma? Yeah. Me either.
So, what's next for Melendez?
He still has to come to the UFC. It's inevitable. But it doesn't have nearly the shine it would have had if he'd been able to finish Thomson or even dominate him in a unanimous decision win.
He'll get thrown into the Octagon with the pack of wolves that is its lightweight division. Time to put up or shut up. A title shot is out of the question.
I say, let him fight Donald Cerrone.
"Cowboy" is coming off a great win over Jeremy Stephens. He's one of the better strikers in the division and also has a pretty nice ground game. After his fight versus Thomson, Melendez has something to prove.
A win over Cerrone would do that. A loss to him would do the same (although it would prove something very different).
That's the best I can come up with. I'm probably right on, but in the event that I'm not, feel free to correct me in the comment section below.