Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Results: Barnett, Cormier roll

nullWell, I was wrong.

Sometimes things just don’t go your way when picking MMA fights and Saturday was that example.

I was 1-3 in my Strikeforce picks, with my lone win being Josh Barnett choking out Sergei Kharitonov.

It was a great win for Barnett, who now advances to the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Finals against the surprise contender, Daniel Cormier.

Cormier, the Olympic wrestler, used his striking to topple Antonio Silva and advance to the finals. He landed a pair of big punches early in the fight, with the second one sending Silva to the ground. From there, Cormier finished the fight with a pair of big hammer fists.

Cormier has now propelled himself into the heavyweight spotlight and a battle with fellow wrestler, Josh Barnett, should make for an interesting championship.

Cormier may have the edge with his striking and wrestling ability. That could help him stay off his back against Barnett, who should have a submission edge on the relatively new fighter.

In the other two featured bouts, Luke Rockhold upset Ronaldo Souza to win the Strikeforce Middleweight title. I didn’t give Rockhold much respect entering the bout, but he grinded a nice win over Souza, using his striking and submission defense to keep the fight in his favor. Question is, does this give Rockhold a chance to move to the UFC for a unification bout? Or does he still not catch the eye of the UFC brass?

Muhammed Lawal returned to action by KO’ing unbeaten Roger Gracie. King Mo’s big right hands ended the fight in the first round and gave him one of his most impressive wins to date.

  

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Picks & Predictions

nullThe semifinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix take place on Saturday night and also a pair of intriguing side bouts.

Here are my picks for the four bouts that will be featured on tonight’s Showtime card.

Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals – Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov – I think Barnett will be smart and handle Kharitonov similar to how he did Brett Rogers. Look for Barnett’s wrestling to eventually lead to a submission finish in the second or third round.

Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals – Antonio Silva vs. Daniel Cormier – Silva vs. Overeem would have been a bigger draw for Strikeforce, but now their champ is with the UFC. Still, Silva has shown some improving skills and I think he will be able to handle Cormier, who is still developing his skills. Cormier can wrestle, but Silva is stronger and should have better conditioning. I look for Silva to out-strike and out-grapple Cormier to earn a decision victory.

Strikeforce Middleweight Championship – Ronaldo Souza vs. Luke Rockhold – Rockhold is a nice little fighter, but Souza should have no trouble with him. The submission wizard should find a way to work his magic in this fight and force a tap. Rockhold hasn’t faced a lot of tough talent and is just proof that Strikeforce doesn’t have much of a middleweight division.

Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Bout – Muhammed Lawal vs. Roger Gracie – King Mo hasn’t fought in over a year and young Roger Gracie is off to an impressive start to his career, submitting the likes of Trevor Prangley and Kevin Randleman. Lawal is going to want to keep this fight standing, but he has a strong wrestling background that may ultimately lead to his demise. I see the better-conditioned Gracie using his skills to get the fight to the ground and choking out the former Strikeforce champ.

  

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Odds: Barnett, Silva Favored

nullThe semifinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix takes place this upcoming Saturday night and we have the latest odds on the big matchups.

Bullz-Eye.com has the odds for the two semifinal contests, which features Josh Barnett and Segei Kharitonov and Daniel Cormier taking on Antonio Silva.

Barnett walks into his bout as the favorite with a betting line of -280 against Kharitonov, who has odds of +220. Barnett (30-5) is coming off a second-round submission win over Brett Rogers while Kharitonov (18-4) knocked out Andrei Arlovski in less than three minutes of his quarterfinal match.

In this semifinal, Barnett has the grappling edge while Kharitonov appears to have the KO power in his striking. Whoever can dictate the location of the fight will likely get the victory.

In the other semifinal, Silva (16-2) is the favorite to win with odds of -175 while his opponent Cormier (8-0), has odds of +145 to win. Silva defeated Fedor Emelinanenko by second round TKO to reach the semifinals while Cormier is filling in for Alistair Overeem, who was removed from the tournament due to his unwillingness to fight in September because of an injury.

Cormier is a strong wrestler with some good submission skills while Silva has started to put together a complete fight game. Silva has big punches and a smother grappling style. He looked the most impressive of any fighter in the quarterfinals, but now fights somewhat of an unknown in Cormier, who has just eight pro fights.

The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix will take place from the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati on Saturday. The show will air live on Showtime at 10PM ET.

  

Top 10 Heavyweight Rankings

nullThe rankings list has made its way back to the heavyweight division.

There have been a few shake ups in this group as of late, mainly near the top. Still, the division has remained pretty solid as we work toward the big meeting of Velasquez vs. dos Sanots.

1. Cain Velasquez (9-0): Velasquez will return in November to take on Junior dos Santos. It will be a tough test for the UFC champ, as he has not fought in nearly a year and is coming off a major surgery.

2. Junior dos Santos (13-1): dos Santos tore through Shane Carwin in an impressive victory that solidified his spot as the top contender to the UFC crown. Junior has proven he can out-strike a striker and stuff a takedown, but will he be able to handle the explosiveness and speed of Velasquez?

3. Brock Lesnar (5-2): Lesnar may not return anytime soon, but I still think he deserves a high ranking as he was able to beat some of the best on this list before getting injured. Lesnar is going to need to show he can handle getting hit when he returns if he hopes to contend for the title ever again.

4. Alistair Overeem (35-11): Overeem was able to beat Werdum without too much difficulty but wasn’t impressive in his own right. Now, some debate with Zuffa has gotten him taken off the rest of the Strikeforce Grand Prix and leaves his MMA future in question. Hopefully Overeem will return and maybe someday step inside the octagon.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum recap and analysis

nullI didn’t buy the idea that Fabricio Werdum was as good as his win over Fedor Emelianenko made people think he was.

That showed on Saturday when he lost a decision to Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, Alistair Overeem, in the first round of the Heavyweight Grand Prix (Photo courtesy of Tracy Lee at Yahoo! Sports)

While Overeem wasn’t that impressive either, I never enjoy watching a guy flop to his back and beg his opponent to come to the ground.

This is MMA, not a grappling tournament. If you can’t get your opponent to the ground, then you better find a way to beat him on your feet.

Do you ever think you would see Cain Velasquez begging his opponent to do anything? I don’t. It is pretty clear that Werdum doesn’t have a ton of confidence in his striking, and to truly be considered one of the best in the heavyweight division, he needs to be more well-rounded and be willing to exchange.

Read the rest of this entry »