Tracking Strikeforce Migrations to the UFC
The UFC is set to acquire an influx of talent now that Strikeforce is set to cease operations. Strikeforce arguably has the second-deepest roster in MMA, so it should benefit the UFC quite a bit.
With guys like Gegard Mousasi, Daniel Cormier and Gilbert Melendez ready to make their transition to the big show, UFC fans are salivating over the fights that they could soon see in the Octagon.
Here are the fighters from Strikeforce who have already been announced to fight under the UFC banner.
Note: Heavyweights are not included because they have already made their move to the UFC (except for Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett). Also, this discusses the recent migration of talent since the announcement of Strikeforce's demise, so guys like Nick Diaz and Dan Henderson were excluded by design.
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Opponent: Chris Leben at UFC 155
Derek Brunson is the only guy on the Strikeforce roster to have migrated over and fought already since the announcement of the company's closure.
Brunson took an extremely short-notice bout against Chris Leben at UFC 155, which he won by unanimous decision. The fight was panned because both guys were winded early in the fight.
It was understandable for Brunson, who took the fight on barely over a week's notice. Let's hope he makes a better impression in his next go-around.
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Opponent: Jacob Volkmann at UFC 156
One of Strikeforce's best young talents at 155 pounds is Bobby Green, a grappler with developing striking. He has tremendous upside in the future, but at UFC 156 he faces a stern test in Jacob Volkmann.
Volkmann is the type of grinder who is going to test Green's heart. Though Green has defeated wrestlers in the past, Volkmann is on a different level than most guys in the lightweight division.
Win or lose, I think the UFC has a good fighter in Green. He should slowly develop into an upper-midcard fighter in the future.
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Opponent: Jay Hieron at UFC 156
Tyron Woodley's attempt at gold in Strikeforce was thwarted by Nate Marquardt, but he gets the chance of a lifetime when he meets Jay Hieron at UFC 156.
Woodley is stepping in for fellow prospect Erick Silva against a tough, scrappy veteran in Hieron.
Hieron is a well-rounded, seasoned individual who trains with high-level wrestlers on a day-to-day basis at Xtreme Couture. That means he will be well-prepared for Woodley's attack.
Woodley's wrestling could carry him through a good part of the welterweight division, but he needs to work on his overall game to be a contender in the future.
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Opponent: Josh Koscheck at UFC 157
Robbie Lawler's return to the UFC is no walk in the park, as he will meet up with top-10 welterweight Josh Koscheck in Anaheim.
Lawler hasn't stepped in the UFC Octagon since 2004 and had been fighting in Pride, EliteXC and Strikeforce. Lawler is a vicious power puncher who is vulnerable to wrestlers.
That is where Koscheck steps in.
Koscheck is one of the best wrestlers at 170, so Lawler is going to have his hands full come UFC 157. The UFC is really giving Lawler the ultimate "sink or swim" fight here.
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Opponent: Sam Stout at UFC 157
One of the prospects I hold in the highest regard from Strikeforce is Caros Fodor. He will make his UFC debut at UFC 157 against Sam Stout.
Fodor is a great striker who has the potential to be an excellent all-around mixed martial artist. He has already faced top-level competition in his young career, and given time to grow, he could be a top lightweight in the future.
However, taking on Sam Stout is no picnic. Stout is also a good striker with more seasoning to his game.
The Canadian has been around the proverbial block more than Fodor, so this is an exotic challenge for the young Strikeforce import.
Opponent: Rani Yahya at UFC on Fuel 8
Japanese veteran Mizuto Hirota will get his shot in the UFC in his native Japan when he meets Brazilian grappling ace Rani Yahya.
Hirota is most famous for the picture included here of Dynamite !! 2009, when Shinya Aoki snapped his arm in a hammerlock. That was unfortunate because Hirota is a magnificent competitor with high-level skills.
He will drop to featherweight after a long run at lightweight.
In his way, he is a submission specialist whose game resembles that of Aoki. Yahya is a fierce Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter who submits opponents with ease.
This will be an interesting debut for the Japanese scrapper.
Opponent: Patrick Cote at UFC 158
Bobby Voelker may have been one of the most underrated welterweights to step foot in a Strikeforce cage, given his opposition. Now he gets to step into the limelight when he fights newly minted welterweight Patrick Cote at UFC 158.
Voelker is a striker who will put on a show with Cote in the cage. Fifteen of his wins came by knockout, which show his power.
He is best remembered for his three-fight series with Roger Bowling. While he lost the first fight by technical decision, he knocked out his nemesis in the next two fights.
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Opponent: Dan Miller at UFC 158
Canadian prospect Jordan Mein will make his anticipated debut at UFC 158 in Montreal against respected veteran Dan Miller.
The young stud is going to face an incredible challenge here, as Miller is as tough as they come. Mein has proved that he can hang with top-level guys, so if he beats Miller, I don't see how he doesn't turn into a contender.
His all-around game is proof that Mein is part of the new generation or the evolution. Although he took a questionable split-decision loss to Tyron Woodley, he won brilliant fights against Evangelista Santos and Tyler Stinson under the Strikeforce banner.
Those two guys are tough competitors. Now, it's time for Mein to man up and show the UFC his stuff.