Strikeforce Grand Prix Results: Ranking the Top 10 Heavyweights in MMA
Many believed that the top heavyweight in the world would be crowned when the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix tournament was announced in January of this year. At least four of the consensus top-10 ranked heavyweights in the world were entered in the tournament, including Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum and Josh Barnett.
At the time, it appeared almost to be fate that we would see Emelianenko vs. Overeem in the semi-finals of the tournament, given the structure of the tournament. But now, eight months later, as we head into the finals, only one of the original top four remains, while the other slot is filled by a fighter who wasn’t even in the original bracket.
Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier will face off, likely later this year, to crown the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion. So where do these two heavyweight juggernauts rank among the top-10 in their weight class, which has been dominated by UFC fighters in recent years?
Read on as we count down and rank the top-10 heavyweights in MMA following tonight’s Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix semi-finals round.
10. Antonio “Big Foot” Silva
MMA Record: 16-3
Last fight: Lost to Daniel Cormier (KO, round 1)
Antonio “Big Foot” Silva is already feeling the wrath of keyboard warriors, who are calling into question his chin following a knockout loss to Daniel Cormier in Cincinnati.
Silva, who had been on a three fight win streak coming into the bout, was considered the favorite against the tournament newcomer. After all, he had slayed a dragon in Fedor Emelianenko in his most recent fight, and had seen his name rise into the top-five in many rankings.
But make no mistake about it—while Daniel Cormier was the better man tonight, Antonio Silva is a bad dude with some serious skill. It’s not going to be every fight that he is completely pummeled on the feet without any chance to bring the fight to the ground, where he is, surprisingly, more comfortable.
9. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
MMA Record: 33-6-1
Last fight: Defeated Brendan Schaub (KO, round 1)
The legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira climbed back into the top-10 with his knockout victory over Brendan Schaub at UFC 134.
Nogueira came into that fight as a fairly large underdog against his young opponent, as many fans believed that a loss could spell the end of what is sure to be a hall of fame career. But he proved critics wrong when he answered the call by out-striking the heavy-handed Schaub on the feet, knocking him out midway through the first round.
Nogueira is now set to fight at UFC 140 later this year against Frank Mir, in a rematch of their bout from UFC 92.
8. Shane Carwin
MMA Record: 12-2
Last fight: Lost to Junior dos Santos (unanimous decision)
Once 12-0 as the UFC interim heavyweight champion, Shane Carwin has now fallen to 12-2 after back-to-back losses to Junior dos Santos and Brock Lesnar.
Carwin had never even allowed his opponents to escape the first round in any of his first 12 professional fights, and we quickly found out why in his fight against Lesnar—the guy simply didn’t have the cardio to make it the full 15 minutes.
Though it was improved in his fight against Dos Santos, which went the distance for the first time in his career, Carwin still looked pretty uncomfortable competing in a fight that went longer than five minutes.
7. Daniel Cormier
MMA Record: 9-0
Last fight: Defeated Antonio Silva (KO, round 1)
If the world didn’t know who Daniel Cormier was before tonight, well, now they do.
Cormier shocked many fans by knocking out consensus top-five heavyweight Antonio “Big Foot” Silva in his semi-finals fight in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. But it wasn’t just that he knocked him out, it was also the dominant fashion in which he did it that has Cormier showing up at No. 7 in his first top-10 appearance.
He will likely be the underdog once again in the finals against Josh Barnett, but the fight has certainly gotten a lot closer after this performance.
6. Frank Mir
MMA Record: 15-5
Last fight: Defeated Roy Nelson (unanimous decision)
Back-to-back victories over Roy Nelson and Mirko “Cro Cop” have Frank Mir teetering on another top-five ranking in the world’s heavyweight division.
His losses to Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar are going to leave a lot of critics with a bad taste in their mouths regarding the former UFC champion, but Mir’s resume should speak for itself at this point. The guy has victories over some of the best in the world, including Lesnar, and he is a threat in every single fight he’s in.
He will have a chance to get a victory over another top-10 opponent in December, when he has his rematch with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 140. A victory could put Mir back into title contention.
5. Josh Barnett
MMA Record: 31-5
Last fight: Defeated Sergei Kharitonov (Submission, round 1)
The weekend’s biggest winner may have been Josh Barnett, who quickly dismantled the Strikeforce tournament’s most dangerous striker, Sergei Kharitonov, in the main event of the Strikeforce Grand Prix semi-finals round.
Barnett used defensive striking to bait in the heavy-handed striker, before tripping him to the ground where he quickly secured a full-mount. That was all he needed to completely control the Russian who was never able to get back to his feet. “The Warmaster” submitted Kharitonov late in the first round with the same arm-triangle choke he used to submit Brett Rogers in his quarterfinals bout.
4. Alistair Overeem
MMA Record: 35-11
Last fight: Defeated Fabricio Werdum (unanimous decision)
It’s now time for Alistair Overeem to prove himself against the best of the best in the UFC after completely dominating the Strikeforce and Dream heavyweight divisions, earning each promotion’s heavyweight championship in the process
Now under UFC contract, Overeem will have his chance to move into the elite of the division if he can defeat former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, when the two square off on December 30.
3. Brock Lesnar
MMA Record: 5-2
Last fight: Lost to Cain Velasquez (Knockout, round 1)
Prior to his knockout loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121, Brock Lesnar was widely considered to be the top heavyweight fighter in the world. His dominant victories over Randy Couture, Shane Carwin and Frank Mir had earned him the title of UFC heavyweight champion, and it looked like he was in for a long run as champion.
But many believe the former NCAA Division-I national champion wrestler was exposed in the fight against Velasquez, when he was unable to hold his smaller opponent down and was pummeled on the feet.
We later found out that he was still not 100 percent following his initial bout with diverticulitis, and that the intestinal inflammation was back months later, prior to his scheduled fight with Junior dos Santos. Lesnar dropped out of the bout in order to have surgery, which has since repaired the infected area and he should now be healthy enough to compete.
The only question now is whether he can get himself back to the physical shape he was in prior to the surgery. At 34-years-old, Lesnar is no spring chicken, and he is still learning a lot about the sport.
2. Junior Dos Santos
MMA Record: 13-1
Last fight: Defeated Shane Carwin (unanimous decision)
As the No. 1 contender for the UFC heavyweight championship, it only makes sense that Team Nogueira’s Junior dos Santos would check in as the No. 2 heavyweight in the world today.
His victory over Shane Carwin at UFC 131 was just the latest in a string of dominant performances that the Brazilian has put on in the octagon. Dos Santos will bring an undefeated 7-0 UFC record into his fight with Velasquez on the very first UFC on FOX card in November.
With the betting lines nearly even, not even the smartest minds in the business know who to choose as the winner... and that’s saying something.
1. Cain Velasquez
MMA Record: 9-0
Last fight: Defeated Brock Lesnar (Knockout, round 1)
The fight is already being hyped as perhaps the biggest, most important fight in the history of the UFC, if not MMA as a whole.
Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos will make the world shake when they collide on FOX this November. These two heavyweight titans have the full confidence of UFC President Dana White who said of the bout, “I’m literally betting everything that this won’t be a boring fight. When’s the last time you saw JDS or Cain in a boring fight? I’m literally betting everything it’s not going to happen.”
The winner of the fight will likely be the top heavyweight in all of MMA, but the finals of the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, as well as the Lesnar-Overeem fight, could prove to be a challenge for even the UFC heavyweight champion.