Strikeforce Fighters in the UFC: How Have They Done so Far?

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2012

Strikeforce fighters have been coming into the UFC...but how well have they been doing?
Strikeforce fighters have been coming into the UFC...but how well have they been doing?Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Since purchasing Strikeforce last year, Zuffa has been steadily sapping the promotion of many of its biggest stars.

This includes their entire heavyweight division, then-current champions including Nick Diaz and Dan Henderson and former champion and UFC 148 fighter, Cung Le.

UFC fans (not to be confused with MMA fans) consistently deride the legitimacy of other promotions. The logic behind this being that the UFC is home to the world's best fighters and, as such, being a top fighter in another promotion is essentially being a top player in the CFL, AHL or WNBA.

The UFC's naysayers, on the other hand, are quick to prop up any given star who could potentially challenge the George St-Pierres and BJ Penns.

The biggest beneficiary of this treatment was Fedor Emelianenko. He was considered a top-10 pound-for-pound fighter well after other heavyweight fighters had started putting together comparable technique with the physical presence that Emelianenko simply could not match.

While some had their biased gripes about a Zuffa MMA monopoly, the vast majority of fans were simply excited by the newfound matchmaking opportunities this offered. Now that things have had a few months to shake out, it is worth taking inventory on how well Strikeforce transplants have fared in the UFC.

First of all, it is important to decide who should actually be considered. After all, fighters bounce between promotions constantly.

This article takes into account fighters acquired by the UFC since Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce. As such, fighters like Jake Shields and Clay Guida who fought for Strikeforce and left for the UFC of their own accord, are excluded.

This also only takes into account fighters' UFC records since being transferred from Strikeforce to the UFC. As such, fighters like Dan Henderson and Nick Diaz, who fought in the UFC, left for Strikeforce, then returned to the UFC, do not have their lifetime records included here.

And last, fighters listed needed at least three bouts in Strikeforce, keeping out random preliminary card-type fighters who may have bounced around between the two.

Taking all that into consideration, the fighters to look at are:

Cung Le (vacated middleweight championship in 2008, 1-1 UFC record)

Nick Diaz (vacated welterweight championship in 2011, 1-1 UFC record)

Alistair Overeem (vacated heavyweight championship in 2011, 1-0 UFC record)

Dan Henderson (vacated light heavyweight championship in 2011, 1-0 UFC record)

Fabricio Werdum (2-0 UFC record)

Antonio Silva (0-1 UFC record)

Shane del Rosario (0-1 UFC record)

Lavar Johnson (2-1 UFC record)

Chad Griggs (0-1 UFC record)

Combined, these former Strikeforce fighters own an 8-6 record in the UFC.

This is not an amazing tally, especially in comparison to the former WEC lightweight trio of Ben Henderson, Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone (who have combined for an 11-2 record since WEC was absorbed into the UFC). But still, a winning record is a winning record and that cannot be understated.

That said, this statistic certainly does not indicate that Strikeforce fighters are superior. Most of the above fighters are heavyweights who were harvested by the UFC because they had an admittedly shallow pool of talent.

Among those heavyweights, the only one within reach of a title shot is Alistair Overeem, who is in the middle of his well-publicized suspension (Werdum is working towards a shot, but the UFC certainly does not feel as though he is close).

Meanwhile, even though Dan Henderson meets the listed credentials for making this list, he is not going to be remembered for his time in Strikeforce, compared to his time in the UFC or Pride.

As for Cung Le and Nick Diaz, two former champions in the promotion? Where they stack up in the division actually remains to be seen (though Nick Diaz is clearly near the top).

The true barometer that will determine how good Strikeforce fighters are compared to their UFC counterparts will be when their better (but not best) fighters come over.

Contenders like Gegard Mousasi, Ronaldo Souza and Tim Kennedy will be the ones to show whether Strikeforce is a legitimate promotion (or was, since it may take the full dissolution before this happens), or a handful of strong fighters being fed by whoever happened to be available. The first of this sort of lot, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, would certainly suggest that they have their work cut out for them.

Strikeforce fans will be quick to point out that two of the promotion's clear-cut best fighters, Gilbert Melendez and Daniel Cormier, have not yet made their UFC debuts.

Former Pride fighter, chronic steroid abuser, and top-10 heavyweight Josh Barnett also remains in limbo. While the UFC has taken most of Strikeforce's best, the promotion still has some gems left.

As such, the proverbial jury is still out on how the two promotions stack up. Regardless, as things stand right now, the talk about Strikeforce's fighters as a whole being overrated may be a bit premature.

Either way, what is beyond question is that Cung Le, Lavar Johnson and company have done their former promotion proud to this point.


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