Which Strikeforce Fighter Has the Most to Gain This Weekend?

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIMarch 2, 2012

picture courtesy of bjpenn.com
picture courtesy of bjpenn.com

Bristol Marunde has the chance to turn from an MMA no-name into an Internet sensation overnight if he can beat Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza on March 3rd.

I may be biased, as I recently did an interview with Marunde, but even with the stigma of subjectivity possibly clouding my better judgement, it's hard to argue that Marunde couldn't earn the most from a win.

He walked into the fight on short notice, not even getting a week's worth of a training camp to prepare for the former Strikeforce champion after Derek Brunson pulled out. From not even being in the company to being matched with one of its top stars is quite a jump for Marunde.

Souza is only one fight removed from fighting for the Strikeforce middleweight title. He wasn't a challenger, either. He was the champion and lost his belt.

Marunde is facing the man who until recently was considered the best in the organization. A win wouldn't get him a title opportunity, but it would cement his status as not only a Strikeforce fighter, but as someone who should appear on the main card.

That is a vast change from fighting in regional shows with no television opportunities.

From not having anything to do with the top level of MMA to being one win away from competing near the top echelon of fighters in Strikeforce is a big leap. Marunde has a chance to push his name out into media and to gain recognition among casual MMA fans.

All he needs to do is beat Souza.

If he can do that, then he will find a niche for himself in Strikeforce.

Who knows? It could even lead to a slot with the UFC if he keeps winning. It wouldn't be the first time that a fighter has been plucked from the smaller sister organization to beef up the A-company.

Marunde could get there one day, and the first step is to win on Saturday night.