After a long awaited hype period, the finals of Strikeforce's Heavyweight grand prix finally came together, as Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier" blasted full throttle through the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., last night (Sat., May 19, 2012).
The main event featured the grand prix championship fight between veteran Josh Barnett and relative newcomer and wrestling aficionado Daniel Cormier. It took all five rounds to determine a winner, but it was never close as "DC" took home the title and showed the world that he is, indeed, for real.
Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez looked to finish off the rubber match and defend his title against Josh Thomson. It wasn't the fight for "El Nino" that mixed martial arts (MMA) fans were hoping for, but it was the fight in front of him.
Melendez was able to secure the win, though the split decision announcement was met with boos from the San Jose crowd who appeared to feel otherwise.
Those are just some of the dynamics that comprised Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier." After the jump, we'll run through the details, top to bottom.
It's hard to say enough just how impressive Daniel Cormier was in his fight versus Josh Barnett. He was better in every regard. I don't think anyone was necessarily counting Cormier out in this fight, but I also don't believe anyone was predicting that he'd totally pick apart one of the best heavyweights of all time.
Either way, it happened, and now Strikeforce has a new heavyweight champion. Will come back to that in just a minute.
Check out a recap of the Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier heavyweight grand prix championship fight here.
Gilbert Melendez was ostensibly auditioning during his fight opposite Josh Thomson. The bigwigs at Zuffa had to have been watching. So was the entire MMA community.
Everyone wanted to see if Melendez could back up his brash claim of being the clear number one lightweight fighter in the world.
Unfortunately, that didn't come to fruition. He won the decision, but it was razor thin and could have gone either way.I have trouble believing that anyone who matters watched this fight and was sold on the fact that Melendez needs to be in the UFC right now. Especially with how stacked the lightweight division currently stands.
With that said, it will probably happen anyway. Be real. Who else is he gonna fight in Strikeforce? Do you wanna see Melendez vs. Thomson, part four? Mauro Ranallo might, but I don't.
For a full review with analysis of Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson, click here.
Rafael Cavalcante came into the night looking to prove something. It's been almost a year since he lost to Dan Henderson at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson.
That's a blemish he'll have to wait a while to make right, as "Hendo" has since made his way over to the UFC and will be taking on current Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones, at UFC 151 in "Sin City" on Sept. 1, 2012.
"Feijao" would, however, get the opportunity to right a different wrong, by getting to take on Mike Kyle, who beat Cavalcante in 2009 via a second round KO.
Things went differently this go-round, and dramatically so.
After Kyle rushed in carelessly, he was nailed by a big overhand right and then a knee in the face from "Feijao," who proceeded to pounce on his wounded prey and secure a guillotine choke. It was over in just 33 seconds. If you looked away, you may have missed it.
Read an in-depth summary of Rafael Cavalcante vs. Mike Kyle here.
In the opening fight of the main card, Swedish-born Chris Spang used impressive striking to silene the often big-mouthed Nah-Shon Burrell.
If you ever want to see what a muay thai clinch clinic looks like, try and find the video of this fight and watch it repeatedly.
For several minutes, Spang mercilessly tied up Burrell in the clinch and bludgeoned him with big knees. Finally, one knee in particular found its home and caused Burrell to go plummeting to the canvas, bringing about the calling of the fight.
If you missed any or all of the action from Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier," click here for detailed blow-by-blow rundowns of each fight from the main card.