For only the second time since I began watching Strikeforce two years ago was I truly impressed with the card presented. Ronda Rousey/Miesha Tate was the last time I was impressed.
The two five-round championship matches lived up to the hype and the heavyweight “World Grand Prix” was saved by the emergence of former Olympian Daniel Cormier who worked over former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett.
Give Barnett his due, he hung in there for 5 rounds and got up after getting slammed numerous times.
In the co-main event Gilbert Meléndez survived Josh Thompson by winning the first 3 rounds and getting beat up in the final two rounds.
If you looked at the faces of Thompson and Meléndez you would think that Thompson should have been named the victor but in the world of mixed martial arts anything is possible.
You can’t blame the judges for giving it to Meléndez but let’s be honest… if they had given it to Thompson, you couldn’t blame them for that either.
This is the danger when facing someone for the third time.
Meléndez knew he was in a lose-lose situation and even said that after his match up but let’s ask a couple of questions.
What’s next for Gilbert Meléndez?
As much as everyone would like to sell us on Strikeforce having fighters the same caliber as Meléndez, no one’s really aching for Meléndez/Feijao Calvacante or Meléndez/Ryan Couture.
As soon as his 3 fight contract runs out Meléndez is heading to the UFC. The real question is how much damage will be done to his career before that happens.
As for Cormier and Barnett, both will probably (you never know with Barnett) head to the big show but Cormier must be disappointed that his UFC debut will have to wait for one more throw away Strikeforce fight until the heavyweight division is officially disbanded and he can be tested even further by the best heavyweights in the world.
As for the Strikeforce brand, I like seeing competition and a pay cable presence is something the sport needs.
But can they keep it up?
The Grand Prix did more damage to the brand than anyone could have ever thought, sure things are on the up but who’s next for Meléndez? Besides Tyron Woodley vs. Nate Marquart, what other interesting match-up do they have?
Can Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman come close to Rousey/Tate?
The next two events will show fans whether or not Zuffa wants Strikeforce to just get through the Showtime contract or if they plan to keep some brand “diversity” in MMA.
Follow Victor Garcia on twitter @MrVicGarcia