Wednesday, June 15, 2011

UFC vs. Strikeforce: 5 Heavyweight Matches To Book

MMANEWS.COM Staff Writer</B><BR><BR>

It?s looking like Dana White?s claim that Strikeforce would continue to function as a separate entity from the UFC may not be wholly true. While nothing has been set in stone, we?re already seeing the slow trickle effect, as Nick Diaz, current Strikeforce welterweight champion, will make his way back to the UFC in October. The brash Stockton rep will meet UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in one of the divisions most anticipated fights in history.<BR><BR>

While we?re not yet privy to much other news of promotional crossovers, rumors have also been circulating around Alistair Overeem and his inevitable trek to the UFC (something we'll likely see by early 2012). It?s hard to solidify those rumors as genuine facts, especially when you consider Overeem?s participation in the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament, but if public speculation holds any weight whatsoever, this tidbit of information is likely true.<BR><BR>

Pulling two of Strikeforce?s largest draws practically ensures the proverbial nail hits the San Jose based promotion's coffin sooner rather than later.<BR><BR>

I thoroughly enjoy Strikeforce, but I must acknowledge that the official merging of the two promotions will eliminate any true form of competition the UFC currently faces. Doing so also further outlines the clear monopolization that Dana White and company have been working towards for years.<BR><BR>

That?s not necessarily a bad thing, and just about every major sport in the world has already proven that one significant league makes for less confusion, more exposure, and ultimately, opens the door to a whole slew of new possibilities for fans. Football fans follow the NFL; baseball fans follow MLB; basketball, NBA, and so on.<BR><BR>

Perhaps it?s time for MMA fans to begin their full-fledged dedication to an official league, and embrace the UFC for the powerhouse it?s become.<BR><BR>

How much longer Strikeforce exists as a functioning promotion is questionable, but the talent pool competing under the banner isn?t, particularly in the heavyweight division. It?s this reason that I now take a look at five compelling matches between some of the best big boys Strikeforce and the UFC have to offer.<BR><BR><!--more-break-->

<B>5. Josh Barnett vs. Frank Mir:</B><BR><BR>

Stylistically these two men share some serious similarities. Both are large, agile men who possess potent striking skills and standout submission abilities. Both men also have held the UFC heavyweight title at some point in their career.<BR><BR>

Josh holds a significant advantage in experience. With 34 fights on his ledger, Barnett has competed in nearly twice as many professional fights (Frank?s r�sum� consists of 20 career appearances), and he?s spent the majority of his career fighting for top flight promotions such as the UFC, Pride Fighting Championships, Sengoku and soon, Strikeforce.<BR><BR>

At this time, I?d consider Mir to be the more well-rounded striker of the two; he?s proven extremely capable with his fists, and lately, he?s shown some serious power and precision with his knee strikes and kicks. He?s not as elusive as Barnett, but he?s got the proper tools to hurt the former champion, without question.<BR><BR>

In terms of submission skills, I?d consider this one a dead heat. Both men have submitted more than 50% of their victims, both move with a refined grace once on the mat, and both have submitted quality opposition.<BR><BR>

This is the type of fight that really comes down to cardio. An in-shape Frank Mir likely sticks-and-moves his way to a decision victory. However, the slightest hint of cardiovascular neglect would likely see Barnett bully his way to a late TKO win.<BR><BR>

Flip a coin and smile; this could be a remarkable fight to sign in the future.<BR><BR>

<B>4. Brett Rogers vs. Shane Carwin:</B><BR><BR>

Shane rests considerably higher in the heavyweight ranks than Rogers, but don?t let that fool you, this fight has the potential to be a memorable clash of titans.<BR><BR>

Shane holds a major edge in power, but he?s arguably slower than Rogers, and Brett has a chin that?s damn difficult to rival; the man can take a punch. Superior athletes have toppled Rogers in the past, but the question remains as to just how superior Carwin is.<BR><BR>

Both men are capable wrestlers. Carwin brings a stronger pedigree into the match, and it is, in all honesty his biggest advantage in the fight. If Brett?s chin can hold up under the pressure delivered by Carwin, this one likely makes it to the canvas with Shane on top, dishing out enough punishment to put ?The Grim? away with devastating ground and pound midway through a fifteen minute affair.<BR><BR><!--more-break-->

<B>3. Antonio Silva vs. Junior dos Santos:</B><BR><BR>

Here?s a fight that I salivate over on a near-daily basis. Junior is a top 3 heavyweight competing for the UFC, while ?Bigfoot? Silva is a top 3 Strikeforce heavyweight.<BR><BR>

Silva?s striking is rudimentary when compared to the smooth boxing skills of dos Santos, but he?s a massive man who?s not afraid to engage and he just so happens to possess outrageous physical strength.<BR><BR>

The grappling must favor Silva, who?s proven himself dangerous on the canvas, and likely owns enough power and technique to outmaneuver ?Cigano?s? impressive hips. If this one does indeed escape the striker?s realm, Silva looks like a shoe-in for victory.<BR><BR>

Having said that, dos Santos owns the kind of one-punch power to render the fellow Brazilian unconscious.<BR><BR>

Dos Santos is the more agile of the two men and that could prove the deciding factor in this fascinating fantasy collision. If Junior utilizes his stellar footwork, he likely batters ?Bigfoot? for fifteen minutes. If his impressive takedown defense fails him, look for an onslaught of punishment from the top position from Silva.<BR><BR>

<B>2. Mirko Filipovic vs. Fedor Emelianenko:</B><BR><BR>

If you?ve been following this sport for more than half a decade, you likely dream about this potential rematch as much as I.<BR><BR>

It?s very clear that both of these men have lost some luster, and in a strange sense, that makes this one even more intriguing; a prime Fedor defeats a prime ?Crocop? nine of ten times. But what of two aging warriors who have seemingly fallen behind the pack?<BR><BR>

Filipovic is the superior striker, but his chin has betrayed him in recent years, and he?s become hesitant to unleash the brutal punches and kicks that brought him to prominence.<BR><BR>

Fedor is the superior grappler, but he hasn?t managed to notch a significant submission victory in three years, and he?s not the picture of durability that fans grew to love and admire during Pride Fighting Championship?s peak days.<BR><BR>

Both men are eying potential retirement, and that leaves me even hungrier to see this rematch take place before one officially calls it quits. I?m inclined to believe that Fedor is still the fresher of the two men, and his superior game-planning probably leads him to victory here? but there?s still a piece of me that believes Mirko has one last highlight reel finish in him; how sweet it would be to earn that victory over former rival Emelianenko.<BR><BR>

(A quick note: this fight earns the number two spot on the list based on nostalgic value, not current relevance to the division.)<BR><BR><!--more-break-->

<B>1. Cain Velasquez vs. Alistair Overeem:</B><BR><BR>

You?ll be hard pressed to find an MMA enthusiast who doesn?t consider this the greatest potential clash in the contemporary heavyweight landscape.<BR><BR>

Velasquez is arguably the most effective wrestler in the business. His ability to plant foes on their backs, and avoid being planted on his, is virtually unparalleled. His chin has come into question in the past, but that feels rather irrelevant; not only has he never been knocked out, he?s yet to lose a professional bout. The current heavyweight champion also has an uncanny ability to recover from damage, which is an attribute that just cannot be taught.<BR><BR>

Overeem in contrast is widely regarded as the best striker above 205 pounds, and after winning the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix, it?s hard to find any basis to form a valid argument otherwise. ?The Demolition Man? hasn?t lost a mixed martial arts bout in nearly four years, and no one in that span has survived beyond the second round with the Dutch kickboxer.<BR><BR>

Stylistically this match-up is everything a MMA fan can ask for. Watching the division?s greatest striker meet the greatest wrestler hearkens back to vintage MMA days, with a ton of technical refinement tossed in the mix. It?s a bout that guarantees fireworks, and to the delight of many, would crown a unified heavyweight champion; whoever were to win this bout is inarguably the greatest heavyweight competing today.<BR><BR>


Kazuyuki Fujita Masakatsu Funaki Zelg Benkei Galesić Mauro Galvao Arman Gambaryan

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