MMA: Will the Strikeforce Grand Prix Winner Really Be the No. 1 Heavyweight?

Brian Oswald@@briancoswaldMMA Editor June 15, 2011

Awhile back you could have made a case for the Strikeforce HW Grand Prix winner laying claim to the title of No. 1 heavyweight in MMA.     

UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez was sidelined with a serious shoulder injury and we didn’t know when he would be back. Brock Lesnar had lost his aura of invincibly and Junior dos Santos was lacking a signature win.  

But that was in a time bubble.

Plus you were probably punch-drunk on the coolness of the tournament and forgetting just how long it would be before a winner was crowned, if ever.

Josh Barnett recently came out saying that the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix will determine the best heavyweight in the world.

"I absolutely believe that the winner of this tournament is the No. 1 heavyweight in the world. Anybody that comes out on top of this has the experience, or got the track record, and it will be proven without a doubt," Barnett told MMAWeekly Radio.

"I think I'm fighting in the toughest collection of heavyweights just about ever assembled. To say otherwise would be a real travesty and would definitely show bias."

While the winner of this tournament will have certainly gone through some stiff competition and racked up three consecutive wins in the process, can they really lay claim to No. 1 heavyweight in MMA?

Let’s take a closer look at what the man many consider the favorite would have to do:

If Alistair Overeem wins the tournament he will have collected wins over Fabricio Werdum, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and whoever emerges from the other side of the tournament (betting odds would say that man would be Josh Barnett).

Again, if the tournament actually plays out, the finals would likely take place sometime in the first half of 2012.  By then, Cain Velasquez will have put his belt on the line against Junior dos Santos and the champion will be looking for their next opponent (my money is on Brendan Schaub…who you got?).

So let’s assume Cain Velasquez defends his belt just for comparison's sake.

Cain Velasquez (last 5 wins)                                              Alistair Overeem

Junior dos Santos                                                                   Josh Barnett

Brock Lesnar                                                                         “Big Foot” Silva

Antonio Nogueira                                                                    Fabricio Werdum

Ben Rothwell                                                                          Todd Duffee

Cheick Kongo                                                                         Brett Rogers


Obviously there are many ways this could play out.

Dos Santos could beat Velasquez and Barnett could win the tournament—then you’d have to compare their previous wins. While it may not be so clear cut as to who the No. 1 heavyweight in MMA might be, you at least have to take a look at the merits of the Strikeforce Grand Prix winner.

And if the tournament does actually play out to its natural conclusion, the one thing that absolutely must happen is the Grand Prix Winner challenge the UFC champion and leave no doubt as to who the best heavyweight in MMA is.