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Power Ranking the Performances of the Winners from Strikeforce's Final Event

Jordy McElroyCorrespondent IJanuary 13, 2013

Power Ranking the Performances of the Winners from Strikeforce's Final Event

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    The Chesapeake Bay Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma played host to the final Strikeforce event, which featured the welterweight title bout between Nate Marquardt and Tarec Saffiedine.

    After seven years of existence, it was a sad way to see Strikeforce end. The fighters did their jobs and gave great efforts on a fight card that simply wasn't that appealing.

    The main card was full of upper-echelon fighters facing medium to lower-tier opposition. Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett, who are two of the best heavyweights in the world, fought two fighters making their Strikeforce debuts.

    Unfortunately, Strikeforce's swan song was ravaged with injuries, and the promotion lacked the man power to cover up the wound.

    Things certainly could've been worse. Strikeforce may have had to cancel the event entirely if they weren't blessed with great fighters willing to step up against world-class opposition on short notice.

    Here are the top performances from Saturday night.

11. Estevan Payan

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    Estevan Payan picked up his fifth consecutive win after earning a second-round TKO stoppage over Mike Bravo.

    Since the actual fight went unaired, it didn't garner much attention from fans, but hopefully UFC President Dana White was paying attention.

    Payan has ended four of his last five bouts with a knockout.

10. Roger Gracie

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    Roger Gracie could be the most dangerous submission artist in all of MMA.

    The second-degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt earned his fifth career submission win over Anthony Smith in the second round of their light heavyweight scrap.

    Things started off a bit rocky for Gracie, who struggled getting the fight to the ground.

    After finally securing a takedown in the second round, Gracie latched on an arm triangle to finish the fight.

9. Adriano Martins

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    Adriano Martins became the latest Strikeforce fighter to hand Jorge Gurgel a loss.

    A win over a veteran name is always great, but it's doubtful Martins makes headlines with a unanimous decision victory over Gurgel, who ended his Strikeforce career with a 2-4 record.

    He may still be a win or two away before the UFC comes knocking, but budding mainstream promotions like Bellator would do well to look into acquiring the services of the Brazilian veteran.

8. Ryan Couture

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    Ryan Couture's split-decision victory over K.J. Noons was controversial, but there are positives to take away.

    With only seven professional bouts under his belt, Couture is steadily improving. Noons is a former EliteXC champion and a highly-respected lightweight contender.

    Couture proved that he has the ability to hang in the fire against a world-class boxer. He even dropped Noons in the second round with a short right hand.

    If both fighters make the jump to the UFC, fans could be in for an immediate rematch.

7. Pat Healy

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    Pat Healy extended his winning streak to six with another grinding decision victory.

    This victory came over Strikeforce newcomer Kurt Holobaugh, who served as a late replacement for Jorge Masvidal.

    The main event for the Strikeforce card was originally slated to be Healy facing Gilbert Melendez for the lightweight title, but a string of injuries forced Healy down to the prelims.

    None of that will even matter if this workmanlike performance nets Healy a UFC contract.

6. Tim Kennedy

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    Tim Kennedy avoided back-to-back losses and overcame Trevor Smith's takedowns on Saturday night.

    It was shocking Smith was even able to get the fight to the floor against Kennedy, who has shown tremendous takedown defense in the past.

    Kennedy's superior striking was the difference.

    Smith was tentative to engage in the standup exchanges, and he began telegraphing takedowns and putting himself in bad positions.

    Kennedy was able to capitalize on Smith getting sloppy and latched on the third-round guillotine choke for the submission win.

5. Josh Barnett

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    It looked like another day at the office for Josh Barnett against Nandor Guelmino, who literally handed the former UFC heavyweight champ an arm triangle in the first round.

    It's tough to tell what's more humiliating for Guelmino: giving up one of the easiest arm triangles in MMA history or the fact that Barnett claims to have only gotten two good days out of training for the fight?

4. Gegard Mousasi

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    Gegard Mousasi is a phenomenal boxer with a solid chin, but he was methodical in his approach against one-punch knockout artist Mike Kyle.

    He used his boxing to close the distance and secure a takedown, where he was able to establish top control and latch on a rear naked choke for the first-round submission.

    It was an impressive performance against a dangerous opponent.

3. Daniel Cormier

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    Daniel Cormier continued his unbeaten streak with a TKO victory over Dion Staring, but it was far from easy.

    Staring put on a gutsy performance and absorbed plenty of punishment before finally wilting in the second round.

    Cormier still has a lot of work to do to improve his striking. He didn't seem confident on the feet at times against the loopy southpaw.

    Luckily, he has an unmatched wrestling background to lean on.

2. Ronaldo Souza

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    Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza tasted big-show opposition in his catch weight scrap with UFC middleweight Ed Herman.

    While Herman isn't considered a top-10 middleweight, he is definitely a mid-tier opponent who deserves respect.

    There was a major gap in strength and pure athleticism.

    Jacare bullied Herman around effortlessly in the grappling department before latching on a kimura in the first round to net his 13th career submission win.

1. Tarec Saffiedine

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    Tarec Saffiedine spoiled Nate Marquardt's welterweight plans in the headliner, which should be dubbed the "Leg Kicking Bowl."

    After getting dropped with a flick of a jab in the first round, Marquardt remained hesitant and lingered outside the pocket for the rest of the fight.

    Saffiedine's game plan consisted of staying at medium range and punishing Marquardt's lead leg with a steady dose of leg kicks.

    Marquardt could barely stand in the later rounds.

    It was a surprising performance from Saffiedine, who was awarded the unanimous decision and named the final Strikeforce welterweight champ.

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