Grades for All Main-Card Fighters from Strikeforce's Final Card
The poetry's been read, the bubbly toasted, the blood spilled. Strikeforce is no more.
The promotion closed its doors Saturday night following a card that effectively boiled all the promotion's good and bad down into one bite-sized history lesson.
There were some fighters who were on the way up and some who didn't even deserve to be on the card. Fans witnessed the ridiculous and sublime.
Now, the promotion is just a bunch of fighters looking for the softest possible landing. What did their performances tell us about them, and by extension, where they may be heading?
Here are grades for every main-card fighter.
Ronaldo Souza: A+
Division: Catchweight (194 pounds)
Result: Ronaldo Souza def. Ed Herman by submission (kimura), 3:10 of Round 1
Souza wasn't messing around. He made it look easy with two emphatic takedowns on a strong wrestler in Herman before applying a dead-eyed, ill-intentioned kimura to force the tap.
I think "The Alligator" looks ready to start "snapping up" middleweights in the UFC.
Ed Herman: C-
Not what you wanted if you're Ed Herman.
Good for him for stepping up to take the fight, but to be whooped so thoroughly by Souza on the heels of being controlled by Jake Shields kind of proves once and for all that "Short Fuse" is indeed a gatekeeper.
Gegard Mousasi: A
Division: Light Heavyweight
Result: Gegard Mousasi def. Mike Kyle by submission (rear naked choke) at 4:09 of Round 1
On paper, this one looked like one of the more even main-card matchups. On the canvas, however, it hardly resembled a fair fight.
The end came quickly. Some benign back-and-forth standup unfolded for a couple of minutes before Mousasi dumped Kyle on his back, and then took said back. "The Dreamcatcher" gained full mount, pounded Kyle into a turtle position and finished it with the choke.
Mousasi is some paperwork away from being a highly respectable UFC light heavyweight.
Mike Kyle: D+
Mike Kyle didn't look good.
I mean, he landed a few combinations during the opening exchanges, but he did nothing that moved those first few minutes beyond a stalemate. And really, if you're going to be that passive from your back, you should probably find a way to prevent ending up in that position.
Josh Barnett: B+
Result: Josh Barnett def. Nandor Guelmino by submission, 2:11 of Round 1
Barnett was suffering from the flu for quite some time before the fight. But it didn't stop him from coming in with 20 pounds more weight and about 20 levels more skill than the overmatched Guelmino. Barnett misses the "A" because Guelmino just didn't challenge him.
Memo to Dana White: Bring Barnett to the UFC now. He's still a good fighter and a great entertainer. He's made his share of shady mistakes, but who cares? I don't.
The UFC heavyweight division is thin. It could use a big fighter like Barnett.
Nandor Guelmino: F
His game plan? Fall down and let Barnett do his thing.
Calling what he did "fighting" would distort the term, possibly to the point where it might tap out faster than Guelmino did.
But no, I want to be fair here. I think I saw Guelmino pull his leg out of a leglock. So that was something positive.
I just hope, for Nandor's sake, that the money to be made on the Jeff Monson look-alike contest circuit is real, and not just pocket money.
Daniel Cormier: B+
Result: Daniel Cormier def. Dion Staring by TKO (punches), 4:02 of Round 2
Pretty much what you would expect from Cormier: a rock-solid beating.
There were times, especially in the first round, when he seemed to let Staring off the hook so he could try something else. You could almost see him thinking: If he doesn't fall into this choke, I'm going to let him up and attempt a head kick!
Cormier now rolls into the UFC with all of his momentum intact.
Dion Staring: C
In this card full of mismatches, by pretty much any metric you wanted to use, Staring faced the longest odds. He was clearly outgunned, but for a while, he was able to survive.
As mentioned, it looked to me like Cormier was pacing himself at times. But Staring still defended himself and, well, fought. That's more than I can say for a couple of the guys on the main card.
In short, I give him a "C" because lasting deep into the second round was a moral victory. It was more than pretty much anyone expected and more than any of the evening's other underdogs could muster.
Tarec Saffiedine: A+
Result: Tarec Saffiedine def. Nate Marquardt by unanimous decision (new Strikeforce champion)
Over 25 minutes, Saffiedine churned Marquardt's right thigh muscle into a squishy mass of purple meatloaf. He also turned me into a believer.
I gave Saffiedine no chance in this fight. I didn't take him seriously. But throughout, Marquardt couldn't get to him at any time, while Saffiedine stuck to his methodical and brutally effective game plan.
Not only does he go into the history books as the final Strikeforce welterweight champ, but he stamped his ticket into the Octagon.
Nate Marquardt: C-
To all the little fighters out there: You've got to check those leg kicks.
The tenderizing probably had a lot to do with it, but Marquardt just never got in gear. However, he was tough to fight through what must have been serious pain.
It was plain bad luck that Marquardt ended up on the bad end of a butt-kicking, as the big-name UFC veteran fell under the sword of an unheralded, but very smart scrapper. Well, bad luck and bad fighting.
Oh well. He's still going to the UFC. Somewhere, Johny Hendricks is breathing a sigh of relief.
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