When the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix was initially announced, it seemed like Strikeforce was finally launching something to compete with the UFC. Dana White didn't seem to have an answer for it and the fans believed that the winner of the tournament could be the best heavyweight in the world.
Almost immediately, the Grand Prix faltered. There were issues with fight delays and their biggest draw, Fedor Emelianenko, was eliminated in the first round.
Then, Alistair Overeem, after a lackluster win over Fabricio Werdum, was subsequently released from the organization.
So now it's down to Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett.
Barnett is a proven top heavyweight, finishing both of his opponents in the tournament—Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov—with arm-triangle chokes.
Cormier, on the other hand, is fairly unproven, coming in as a replacement for Alistair Overeem that managed to make it to the finals by knocking out Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. However, he also broke his hand in the process.
According to Cormier's Twitter account: "Just got done seeing Dr. Hand is broken will be on the shelf 4 a while. Still looking forward to finishing tourney. Thx 4 support. DC"
USA Today reports his management has stated that the former Olympic wrestler will be out approximately six to eight weeks before resuming training.
Cormier's injury is just another problem in a long list of issues with both the Grand Prix and the Strikeforce brand altogether.
At this point, the fight between Cormier and Barnett could prove that Cormier is a serious contender at heavyweight or that he's not quite ready for that level of competition. Coming out of such a great camp at the American Kickboxing Academy couldn't hurt, as he gets to train with No. 1 heavyweight Cain Velasquez frequently. Cormier is surprisingly similar to his AKA teammate with his ever-improving striking, strong wrestling pedigree and 9-0 record.
Either way, Strikeforce does have an interesting heavyweight matchup ahead of them. While it doesn't have the attraction of an Emelianenko versus Overeem bout, it does have serious implications for the division. At the very least, both fighters would make great additions to the constantly deepening UFC heavyweight roster.
With Cormier's broken hand, the fight will likely be delayed until 2012, but at this point, it's really the single greatest thing attraction for Strikeforce. Much of their top talent, including the heavyweight and welterweight champions—Overeem and Nick Diaz—have already jumped ship for the UFC. The lightweight and light heavyweight champions—Gilbert Melendez and Dan Henderson—don't seem far behind.
Daniel Cormier is one of the last remaining hopes of a Strikeforce product to make an impact in mixed martial arts. Unfortunately, a broken hand will delay that possibility, but it's still worth waiting to see.
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