Strikeforce to UFC: Power Ranking the 7 Best Additions to the UFC Roster
With Strikeforce now officially closing its doors, the influx of talent to the UFC roster has made for an interesting week in the sport.
While we keep an eye on fighters like Josh Barnett who haven't officially signed with the promotion yet, most of the top Strikeforce talent is now ready to make its transition to the Octagon.
For some of these fighters, the move has been a long time coming. For others, it's something that they had only dreamed of. But no matter their apparent "destiny," they will all be getting a chance to make a name for themselves on the biggest stage for mixed martial arts that the sport has ever seen.
It's bittersweet to see Strikeforce close its doors, but the opportunity to see some of the big fights that we've been asking for makes it a bit more palatable. No longer do we have to worry about Showtime contracts. It's finally time for some dream fights.
These are the seven best former Strikeforce fighters who are now ready to move onto the UFC.
7. Nate Marquardt
MMA Record: 32-11-2
Strikeforce Record: 1-1
Most Recent Fight: Loss to Tarec Saffiedine on Jan. 12, 2013
The only fighter on this list who has been given a chance in the Octagon before is former top middleweight contender Nate Marquardt.
Marquardt was cut from the promotion following an interesting situation with testosterone replacement therapy, which saw him fail a pre-fight drug test, only to later pass it the day of the fight itself.
Now competing in the welterweight division, Marquardt destroyed the previously undefeated Tyron Woodley in his Strikeforce debut for the vacant 170-pound title.
He has since lost the championship on the final Strikeforce fight card, but his improved look at the lighter weight class makes him an interesting addition to the UFC roster.
6. Tim Kennedy
MMA Record: 15-4
Strikeforce Record: 4-2
Most Recent Fight: Defeated Trevor Smith on Jan. 12, 2013
There aren't many fighters in MMA today who work harder than middleweight contender and active Army veteran Tim Kennedy.
Kennedy, whose only losses in the past five years came to the final two Strikeforce middleweight champions, "Jacare" Souza and Luke Rockhold, is a borderline top-10 fighter in the division and will test his skills against a higher level in the Octagon.
5. Tarec Saffiedine
MMA Record: 14-3
Strikeforce Record: 6-1
Most Recent Fight: Defeated Nate Marquardt on Jan. 12, 2013
Current Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine seemed to come out of nowhere this past weekend when he defeated Nate Marquardt in the main event of the final Strikeforce fight card.
Considering how one-sided most of the card was leading up to the final fight, many believed that the Belgian was simply going to be a punching bag for Marquardt, who looked like a machine in his previous knockout win over Tyron Woodley.
As it turned out, though, it was Saffiedine who not only stood his ground, but unloaded with a string of punishing low kicks to break the will of Marquardt, eventually earning a one-sided decision to become the new champion.
As only a contender for the title, Saffiedine frankly wasn't guaranteed a spot on the UFC, but with the win and the title around his waist, he suddenly became a hot commodity.
4. Ronaldo Souza
MMA Record: 17-3 (1)
Strikeforce Record: 9-1
Most Recent Fight: Defeated Ed Herman on Jan. 12, 2013
Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza has spent the majority of his MMA career being under-appreciated due to his lack of UFC contract.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in the truest sense, Jacare is a ruthless finisher who has submitted his opponent in 13 of his 17 career victories, including most recently tapping out the highly skilled Ed Herman in less than one round.
Souza is a training partner of some of the top fighters in the sport, including Anderson Silva, and will look to continue his impressive 7-1 run since December 2009.
3. Luke Rockhold
MMA Record: 10-1
Strikeforce Record: 7-1
Most Recent Fight: Defeated Tim Kennedy on July 14, 2012
The current Strikeforce middleweight champion may very well be the most overlooked fighter in the sport.
At 10-1 in his career, the 28-year-old has already earned victories over two others on this list, "Jacare" Souza and Tim Kennedy, as well as UFC veterans Paul Bradley and Keith Jardine.
Rockhold is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but also possesses a solid wrestling game as well as tremendous technique in his standup game.
His well-rounded skill set makes him a tough out for any opponent and could earn him a quick shot up the ladder in the still relatively thin UFC middleweight division.
2. Daniel Cormier
MMA Record: 11-0
Strikeforce Record: 8-0
Most Recent Fight: Defeated Dion Staring on Jan. 12, 2013
As the only undefeated fighter on this list, Daniel Cormier may be the most dangerous man in the sport today.
An Olympic-level wrestler, Cormier has used his tremendous base skill to run up an unscathed 11-0 record that includes victories over Jeff Monson, Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett.
Because his wrestling makes him such a threat, fans have seen Cormier 's standup game grow by leaps and bounds over just his past few fights.
He is now throwing not only with quite a bit of power, but also with the kind of technique and pinpoint accuracy that helped earn his teammate, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, a dominating victory over Junior dos Santos to win back his title.
The unfortunate thing for Cormier right now is that with Velasquez holding the title, it's going to be tough for him to get a shot. While there have been conflicting rumors about whether the two would actually fight one another if asked by the UFC, it's easy to see why Cormier has been considering a move down to 205 pounds where he would have the opportunity to challenge current champion Jon Jones.
1. Gilbert Melendez
MMA Record: 21-2
Strikeforce Record: 11-1
Most Recent Fight: Defeated Josh Thomson on May 19, 2012
Some might believe that Daniel Cormier deserves to be at the top of this list given the recent performances these two have had, but the truth is that Gilbert Melendez has done something that will still take Cormier a while to do.
Despite a close fight with Josh Thomson in his most recent bout, Gilbert Melendez has remained an elite fighter in the lightweight division for nearly a half-decade now.
He possesses victories over the likes of Clay Guida, Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and now a pair of wins over Thomson. The longevity really helps to give Melendez the credibility that makes him No. 1 on this list.
The UFC matchmakers also apparently agree with this assessment as they have decided to make him the only fighter who is making his Strikeforce-to-UFC move that will receive an immediate title fight in his weight class. Melendez will be facing UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson on the April 20 episode of UFC on FOX.
With a win, Melendez will finally have a chance to call himself the unquestioned top 155-pounder in the sport today. The debate will finally be over. If he can do it in the Octagon, he's the best in the world...and trust me, that's what he's going to be striving for.