UFC

Examining the Progress of the Male Strikeforce Fighters Who Moved to the UFC

Tim McTiernanCorrespondent IMay 9, 2014

Examining the Progress of the Male Strikeforce Fighters Who Moved to the UFC

1 of 20

    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    Back in 2011, Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC, purchased Strikeforce. As soon as news broke, people began to speculate on what this would mean for the future of both organizations and for the fighters in them.

    After the deal, Strikeforce ran 17 events, including six of the Strikeforce Challengers series and the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

    In addition, it adopted the unified rules of MMA and standardized the women's weight classes.

    Then, following Strikeforce's final show in January 2013, the Strikeforce fighters started moving to the UFC in droves. Some have fought for the title, some have been close, and some haven't been anywhere near the top.

    Let's see how some of Strikeforce's best and brightest men have performed in the UFC.

Honorable Mentions

2 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    These guys came over before Strikeforce officially closed and thus are not included on the list.

    Jason Miller: Miller came to the UFC and got an opportunity to coach The Ultimate Fighter opposite Michael Bisping. Miller ended up losing to Bisping by Round 3 TKO and lost to CB Dollaway by decision after that. He left the UFC with a record of 0-2 and an overall UFC record of 0-3.

    Nick Diaz: Diaz left Strikeforce—and his welterweight title—to come to the UFC and fight Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title. Through a series of replacements, Diaz ended up fighting and beating BJ Penn at UFC 137. He lost his next fight to Carlos Condit for the interim UFC Welterweight Championship and then lost to St-Pierre for the undisputed UFC championship. He is now semi-retired.

    Dan Henderson: Henderson's Strikeforce contract expired following his knockout of Fedor Emelianenko. He defeated Mauricio Rua by unanimous decision in his first fight back in the UFC in what would become the Fight of the Year for 2011. Following that, he lost three straight to Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort before rebounding with another victory over Rua.

    Alistair Overeem: Overeem was cut from Strikeforce following his inability to be ready to fight in time for the next round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. He signed with the UFC and TKO'd Brock Lesnar in his first fight. He would lose his next two, to Antonio Silva and Travis Browne, by knockout. In his most recent fight, he won a unanimous decision over Frank Mir.

    Antonio Silva: Silva beat Fedor in the first round of the Strikeforce Grand Prix and then got knocked out by Daniel Cormier in the second round. He made his UFC debut against Cain Velasquez and was beaten in just minutes. He then won two straight with knockouts over Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem before again running into Velasquez, who knocked him out for a second time. He then fought Mark Hunt to a draw, which was later overturned to a no-contest when Silva failed the post-fight drug test.

Jorge Masvidal

3 of 20

    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Jorge Masvidal's last two fights in Strikeforce were a loss in a title fight to Gilbert Melendez and a split-decision victory over Justin Wilcox.

    His first fight in the UFC was a decision victory over Tim Means on UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez.

    He followed that up with a D'Arce choke submission victory over The Ultimate Fighter Live (Season 15) lightweight winner Michael Chiesa.

    His next fight was a match against Rustam Khabilov at UFC Fight for the Troops 3. Although he won Fight of the Night, he lost the fight by decision.

    Most recently, he beat Pat Healy by unanimous decision at UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne.

    UFC Record: 3-1

Bobby Green

4 of 20

    Feb 2, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Bobby Green  celebrates his TKO victory during UFC 156 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
    USA TODAY Sports

    Bobby Green finished his time in Strikeforce on a four-fight winning streak with two submissions. In fact, he went 4-1 overall in Strikeforce, only dropping his first fight to Gesias Cavalcante.

    In Green's first fight in the UFC, he was matched up against the tough grappler Jacob Volkmann, and Green pulled off an incredibly late rear-naked choke for the win and Submission of the Night.

    He followed that up with a TKO from a body kick over James Krause at UFC Fight for the Troops 3. 

    His most recent fight was in December, where he beat Pat Healy by unanimous decision.

    UFC Record: 3-0

KJ Noons

5 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    KJ Noons was not largely successful during in Strikeforce, although he did have a welterweight title fight and two lightweight title-eliminator matches. Overall, he went 3-4, dropping fights to Nick Diaz, Jorge Masvidal, Josh Thomson and Ryan Couture. However, he was given a shot in the UFC.

    His first UFC fight was against Donald Cerrone at UFC 160, and Noons lost a unanimous decision.

    His second fight was against George Sotiropoulos at UFC 166, and he was more successful as he earned the unanimous-decision victory.

    For his next fight, he returned to the welterweight division and took on Sam Stout at The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale. He knocked Stout out in just 30 seconds and earned Performance of the Night.

    UFC Record: 2-1

Josh Thomson

6 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Josh Thomson was a longtime staple in Strikeforce, and he briefly fought in the UFC before that. He fought Clay Guida for the inaugural Strikeforce lightweight title (Guida won) and was with Strikeforce from 2006 all the way until it closed its doors.

    His last two fights were a victory over KJ Noons in a title eliminator and a loss to Gilbert Melendez for that title.

    He moved to the UFC and had a huge first fight, knocking out Nate Diaz in the second round and earning Knockout of the Night.

    He followed that up with a close split-decision loss to former lightweight champ Benson Henderson.

    After that loss, he stated he may be done fighting.

    Recent UFC Record: 1-1

    Overall UFC Record: 3-2

Gilbert Melendez

7 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Gilbert Melendez entered the UFC on a seven-fight winning streak and with an overall record of 21-2. He was the long-reigning Strikeforce lightweight champion, defending the title four times and an interim title once.

    His first UFC fight was a title shot against Benson Henderson at UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez. Melendez would lose a split decision.

    In his next fight, he took on Diego Sanchez and earned a unanimous-decision victory in a Fight of the Night.

    Most recently, he signed with Bellator, but the UFC had matching rights and used them. Melendez ended up re-signing with the UFC and accepting a coaching position on The Ultimate Fighter opposite lightweight champ Anthony Pettis.

    UFC Record: 1-1

Tarec Saffiedine

8 of 20

    Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

    Tarec Saffiedine entered the UFC as the final Strikeforce welterweight champion. Unfortunately, a series of injuries have caused him to have just one fight in the UFC thus far.

    He was supposed to fight Robbie Lawler but had to pull out due to injury.

    Next, Saffiedine was supposed to fight Jake Ellenberger, who had to withdraw due to injury. Hyun-Gyu Lim stepped up, and Saffiedine beat him by unanimous decision.

    A fight with Ellenberger was rebooked, but this time it was Saffiedine who had to pull out with injury. 

    UFC Record: 1-0

Nate Marquardt

9 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Nate Marquardt had just two fights in Strikeforce, beating Tyron Woodley for the Strikeforce welterweight title and then losing it to Tarec Saffiedine.

    He then made his return to the UFC, after a long saga when he had been cut two years earlier. His first fight was against Jake Ellenberger, who knocked him out in three minutes.

    He followed that up with a fight against Hector Lombard, when he was knocked out again.

    His next fight will be against James Te Huna at middleweight.

    Recent UFC Record: 0-2

    Overall UFC Record: 10-6

Tyron Woodley

10 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Tyron Woodley was also with Strikeforce for a long time. He started his career 2-0 and was then signed to Strikeforce, where he ripped off eight more wins in a row, including four finishes.

    He got his shot at the Strikeforce title against Nate Marquardt, although Marquardt earned the knockout in the fourth round.

    In his first fight in the UFC, Woodley knocked out Jay Hieron in about 30 seconds and made a serious statement.

    That earned him a fight against Jake Shields at UFC 161, which Woodley lost via split decision.

    His next fight ended in a first-round Knockout of the Night of Josh Koscheck. After that, Woodley went on to earn a second-round TKO over Carlos Condit.

    UFC Record: 3-1

Robbie Lawler

11 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Robbie Lawler has been arguably the most successful Strikeforce fighter to come over to the UFC. He finished his time in Strikeforce going 3-5 in his last eight and losing three of his last four.

    In his first fight back in the UFC, he knocked out Josh Koscheck in the first round, earning Knockout of the Night.

    His next fight was supposed to be against Tarec Saffiedine, but an injury forced him out and Lawler would end up facing Bobby Voelker. Lawler knocked him out in the second round.

    After that, Lawler won a split decision over Rory MacDonald and earned a shot at the vacant welterweight title.

    He lost a close unanimous decision to Johny Hendricks but claimed Fight of the Night.

    Recent UFC Record: 3-1

    Overall UFC Record: 7-4

Yoel Romero

12 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Yoel Romero had just one fight in Strikeforce, getting knocked out by Rafael Cavalcante.

    His first fight in the UFC, and his middleweight debut, was against Clifford Starks. Romero won the fight with a flying knee and earned Knockout of the Night.

    He followed that up with another knockout—this one in the first round against Ronny Markes.

    After that, he earned a TKO and Fight of the Night when he beat Derek Brunson with punches and elbows to the body.

    His most recent fight was a unanimous-decision victory over Brad Tavares.

    UFC Record: 4-0

Luke Rockhold

13 of 20

    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Luke Rockhold entered the UFC as the last Strikeforce middleweight champion. He beat the likes of Ronaldo Souza, Keith Jardine and Tim Kennedy during his time in Strikeforce.

    His first UFC fight was a match against Vitor Belfort, which the Brazilian won by knockout with an insane spinning heel kick.

    Rockhold rebounded after that, crushing Costas Philippou with a body kick in the first round. That won Rockhold Knockout of the Night.

    His most recent fight was against Tim Boetsch, whom Kennedy submitted in the first round.

    UFC Record: 2-1

Tim Kennedy

14 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Tim Kennedy went 4-2 during his time in Strikeforce, with three finishes and the two losses coming in the form of unanimous decisions in title fights.

    In his first fight in the UFC, he earned a unanimous decision over Roger Gracie at UFC 162.

    He followed that up with a first-round knockout over Rafael Natal, which earned him Knockout of the Night honors.

    Most recently, he beat Michael Bisping by unanimous decision at The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale.

    UFC Record: 3-0

Ronaldo Souza

15 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Ronaldo Souza is one of the best guys to make the move from Strikeforce to the UFC. During his time in Strikeforce, he went 7-1 with five finishes. His only loss was to Luke Rockhold for the title.

    In his first fight in the UFC, Souza submitted Chris Camozzi with an arm-triangle choke and earned Submission of the Night.

    He followed that up with a first-round TKO of Yushin Okami, which may have been his most impressive display of striking yet.

    His most recent fight was a unanimous-decision victory over Francis Carmont.

    UFC Record: 3-0

Gegard Mousasi

16 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Gegard Mousasi has been there and done that. He has fought in Dream, Pride, Strikeforce and the UFC. He's fought everyone from Mark Hunt to Hector Lombard to Renato Sobral—he beat them all, by the way.

    He came into the UFC having won three straight and five of his last six.

    His first fight in the UFC was supposed to be against Alexander Gustafsson but came against Ilir Latifi, and Mousasi won by unanimous decision.

    After that, he went down to middleweight for the first time in several years and faced off against Lyoto Machida. "The Dragon" would go on to win the decision.

    UFC Record: 1-1

Rafael Cavalcante

17 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Rafael Cavalcante is the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion. He beat Muhammed Lawal to win the title and then lost it to Dan Henderson in his next fight.

    He came to the UFC following a no-contest, as he failed a drug test after winning a fight over Mike Kyle.

    In his first UFC fight, he was knocked out in the first round by Thiago Silva, although they earn win Fight of the Night.

    After that, he knocked out Igor Pokrajac with knees and punches in just less than 80 seconds.

    UFC Record: 1-1

Ovince Saint Preux

18 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Ovince Saint Preux was a very solid fighter during his time in Strikeforce. Overall he went 6-1 with three finishes, with his only loss coming to Gegard Mousasi.

    Saint Preux made his UFC debut at UFC 159 against Gian Villante, where Saint Preux won a majority technical decision.

    He followed that with a first-round knockout of Cody Donovan and then a first-round technical submission of Nikita Krylov.

    UFC Record: 3-0

Daniel Cormier

19 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Daniel Cormier is probably the biggest name to make the move from Strikeforce to the UFC. He went 5-0 in Strikeforce, including winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

    In his first fight in the UFC, he faced Frank Mir, whom he ended up beating by unanimous decision.

    After that, he won another unanimous decision over Roy Nelson at UFC 166.

    Next, Cormier was due to make his light heavyweight debut against Rashad Evans. Unfortunately, due to an injury to Evans, Cormier faced newcomer Patrick Cummins instead, whom he destroyed in just more than a minute.

    UFC Record: 3-0

Josh Barnett

20 of 20

    USA TODAY Sports

    Josh Barnett had four fights in Strikeforce. He won his first two fights in the Heavyweight Grand Prix against Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov. He would lose in the finals to Daniel Cormier. In his final Strikeforce bout, he submitted Nandor Guelmino in the first round.

    He signed with the UFC and returned against Frank Mir, whom he TKO'd in just less than two minutes with a knee against the cage.

    In his next fight, Travis Browne knocked him out with brutal elbows in exactly one minute.

    UFC Record: 1-1

    Overall UFC Record: 5-2

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices