The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix has come to a conclusion with Daniel Cormier defeating Josh Barnett for the grand prix title. In what was the best performance of his career, Saturday night was the coming out party for Daniel Cormier.
In the co-main event Gilbert Melendez defended his lightweight belt against Josh Thomson, putting their in-ring rivalry to rest. It wasn't the best performance of Gilbert's career but he got the job done and held onto his belt.
With a lazy Sunday ahead of us, let's take a look at the questions answered and the lessons learned following Strikeforce: Barnett vs Cormier.
Look that fight against Virgil Zwicker wasn't good in the sense that both men were extremely gassed after three rounds. I'm not going to hold that against Guto because he did absolutely everything in his power to win by stoppage. From spinning head kicks to jumping knees, he threw everything in his arsenal at Zwicker. Against most of the division that'd be enough to walk away with a win. Zwicker just has an unbelievable chin and was able to walk through everything.
I think in the case of Inocente, he is one of the few fighters that benefit from fighting in Strikeforce. Let him get some experience against some tough fighters before bringing him over to the other brand. Who knows, he may challenge for the light heavyweight strap one day.
There was a time when Gesias Cavalcante was one of the most feared lightweight fighters in the world. He ruled K-1 Heros and was arguably the top lightweight for some time. Those days are long gone and last night was just another example of how far he's fallen.
JZ gassed midway through the first round and then was dominated for the remaining two rounds by Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Yes, an unheralded lightweight from Greg Jackson's camp put a beating on Gesias Cavalcante. Either Vallie-Flagg is that good or JZ has fallen off. I'm willing to guess that it's JZ.
Mike Kyle made the mistake of complaining publicly about how he should be earning a title shot with a win over Rafael Cavalcante. He felt disrespected by Strikeforce as he was undefeated at light heavyweight in the promotion.
With how Strikeforce is currently viewed by everyone, it would be wise to not air any dissatisfaction with the matchmaking process. Hopefully he realizes this and won't make the mistake again in the future because I enjoy watching him fight.
Josh Thomson isn't an elite lightweight but he's still really really good. After a poor performance against KJ Noons to earn his title shot, I think expectations were low regarding what we could expect from Thomson against a destroyer like Gilbert Melendez.
We were wrong. Josh Thomson is extremely tough and was able to push the champion beyond what anyone else on the roster has done. His time on top is definitely up and I sure as hell don't want to see a fourth fight but he's still a great test for anyone in the division.
For years we heard that Gilbert Melendez was one of the top three best lightweights in the world. He was always in the discussion whenever people would bring up rankings and the big issue was that he just wasn't fighting the same top guys as the fighters in the UFC.
He was totally correct when he said he had everything to lose against Josh Thomson and unfortunately, he definitely lost ground with his performance last night. If the Gilbert Melendez who showed up ever fought Benson Henderson, he'd get absolutely trucked.
While Daniel Cormier has been competing in wrestling at the world level for years, he is still incredibly young in his MMA career and development. Last night was the best performance of his career against one of the best heavyweights ever.
Daniel's development and boxing ability has come so far that he looks like an elite level striker. His wrestling will always be the best in the division and his submission defense was top notch as well. Hopefully Zuffa doesn't make him stick around in Strikeforce for another fight because I want to see him in the UFC as soon as possible.
Being totally honest and upfront, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix was the biggest failure in American MMA history. It was supposed to make Strikeforce a viable contender in the North American MMA scene.
Over a year later, the crowned "champion" has no idea what he's going to be doing next and his opponent may not have a job come Monday. With the failure of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix as well as YAMMA, it may be best if we just leave Grand Prix tournaments to Japanese MMA. They have them down to a science.