This weekend, the once-great Strikeforce promotion will be holding its last event. Although the event is really called “Strikeforce: Marquardt vs Saffiedine,” I think the name “Dissolution” is more fitting. The card was initially intended to be a supercard featuring three title fights that would be sure to send the promotion out with a bang. Instead, title holders Gil Melendez and Luke Rockhold got hurt, and decided it would be wise to instead wait for the greener pastures inside the octagon. What’s left on the card is virtually everyone of note left on the Strikeforce roster, mished and mashed into matchups with seemingly any able body Sean Selby (or whoever makes Strikeforce matches nowadays) could find.
As a result, there are multiple match-ups pitting fighters who otherwise should be on relatively safe footing for a UFC transition against guys most people have probably never heard of. This, naturally, creates a situation where the guys with the more household names have a lot more to lose than the up and comers who could potentially ride an upset straight into the octagon. Here is a look at some of the former group, who undoubtedly have added pressure to win on Saturday.
Cormier won the sounded awesome, but turned out a little less than awesome, Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. From there, he was supposed to get a big-name fight but, a combination of Strikeforce having no heavyweights left on the roster, Frank Mir getting injured, and no other UFC heavyweight wanting to fight him left Cormier against Dion Staring this Saturday. With Dana White talking about Cormier potentially getting an immediate UFC title shot in the division of his choosing, a loss to Staring would be devastating. While Staring has compiled a 28-7 record, his wins are over a less-than-imposing cast of characters, and he has been defeated by Denis Stojnic. Needless to say, a loss for Cormier will destroy any hope he had at a title shot and could send him pretty far down the ladder in whichever UFC division he chooses.
Unlike Cormier, Marquardt has received a UFC title shot in the past. However, due to an up and down record and some issues with Dana White, it would be unlikely that he would find himself in a position to challenge for the title again any time soon. However, entering the UFC as the final Strikeforce Welterweight Champion may be enough to get him that shot sooner than would be otherwise possible. Without the belt, he likely just falls deep into the ranks of the welterweight division and serves as nothing more than a high-level gatekeeper. With the belt, it is conceivable that he could be put into the upper echelon of the division in short order.
Although it is unclear whether Dana White will relent and bring Barnett into the UFC after this weekend due to a past feud, it is more clear that he would have a strong reason not to if Barnett cannot beat an unknown Nandor Guelmino. Until the fight was booked, I hadn’t ever heard Guelmino’s name, and still half believe that he is a cartoon villain. Needless to say, Barnett is likely in a must win situation if he wants another shot in the UFC.
I’ve written multiple times about the unfortunate story of Pat Healy. He went from having nothing to lose in a title fight against Melendez, to still having a lot to gain against former contender Jorge Masvidal, to being in a potential fight for his job against Kurt Holobaugh. A win over the former two fighters would have cemented Healy as a contender in the UFC lightweight division, while a loss would not necessarily be devastating. Instead, a win over Holobaugh doesn’t really do anything for him, while a loss could be looked at as evidence that he doesn’t belong in the UFC at all.
Do I think any of the four aforementioned fighters will lose this weekend? No. But, at the same time, I think they better not if they want a semi-comfortable (or any) transition to the UFC.