We have finally reached the end of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament. It only lasted a year, and a Heavyweight division no longer even exists in Strikeforce, but we will have a Champion. (Could you imagine if this fight ended up i
n a draw?) Enter your picks below for the four main card fights that will be shown on Showtime for a chance to win a signed picture of Gilbert Melendez.
Welterweight Bout: Nah- Shon Burrell vs. Chris Spang
Brian: Spang isn’t as outmatched here as you might think. Burrell has the experience edge, for sure, and being on the main card here will add a good bit of pressure to both me, but I see Burrell pulling out a unanimous decision victory.
Brendan: I’ll take Burrell in this one, though Spang has legit boxing skills I think Burrell will be too much for him in this one. Burrell via split decision.
Jordan: Burrell is on a 6-fight win streak (3 in Strikeforce) and Chris Sprang is coming off a loss to Ricky Legere. Burrell is the more talented striker and I have him picking up the decision.
Jordan: Burrell is on a 6-fight win streak (3 in Strikeforce) and Chris Spang is coming off a loss to Ricky Legere. Burrell is the more talented striker and I have him picking up the decision.
Mark: In my mind, I think both of these guys see this fight as an opportunity since they’ll open the main card of a marquis Strikeforce event. The chance to showcase their skills in front of a worldwide audience won’t be lost on these two. Burrell certainly has the momentum, but Spang won’t be an easy out. I’ll go with Burrell via Split Decision in a coin flip.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Rafael Cavalcante vs. Mike Kyle
Brian: Feijao is a stout striker. His only true losses are to Dan Henderson and Mike Kyle. Hendo…I understand. Mike Kyle….you’re about to get some revenge taken out on you, sir. Look for a KO in the second. This one might be brutal.
Brendan: I like Mike Kyle in this one, I have a feeling it goes similar to their first fight back in 2009 but this time Kyle scores a KO victory…that dude hits hard (see his fight with Bigfoot Silva)
Jordan: These two previously fought in 2009 and Kyle picked up the upset TKO victory in his first fight in Strikeforce. Both of these fighters have improved, but I see Cavalcante as the better overall fighter. While Kyle is a great kick boxer, Feijão also has some vicious striking and I see him exacting his revenge via TKO in the 2nd.
Mark: It seems like we’ve seen this one before and it’s because we have. Kyle proved the better man in their first bout and is certainly a game opponent against anyone, but Feijao has the higher ceiling to me. His time at Black House has allowed him to grow and I’ll agree with my colleagues on this one. Cavalcante by 1st rd KO.
Lightweight Bout: Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson
Brian: All the pressure in this fight, believe it or not, is on Melendez. Josh Thomson should go in here and throw caution to the wind and try to overwhelm El Nino from the opening bell…if he does, we could have a repeat of the result from June ’08…but we won’t. Melendez comes in prepared and puts on a clinic and wins 49-46 across the board. If he’s smart…he’ll call out the winner of Benson Henderson-Frankie Edgar.
Brendan: This is a great rubber-match, but Melendez will come out on top and I see him TKO’ing Thomson late in the 4th round.
Jordan: Gilbert Melendez has got a lot of love recently as the top Lightweight in the world. Melendez has the chance to put Josh Thompson away, once and for all in the rubber match. Melendez is better in all aspects of the game and he should finish this fight. There have been a ton of rumors about Josh Thompson’s health (see @FrontRowBrian) and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is more to it. While I would love to see a finish, I have Melendez winning this fight 50-45 across the board.
Mark: Gilbert Melendez is better than any Lightweight in Strikeforce, plain and simple. Thomson is a tough guy and a former champ, but El Niño is on a whole other level. He’ll dominate this fight standing as well as on the ground. Give me Melendez in a lopsided decision 50-45.
Heavyweight Bout: Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier
Brian: I really like Daniel Cormier, he’s almost a younger version of Shane Carwin. There’s a 7” reach differential here…and I think Barnett uses it to his advantage. Late in the 3rd, he’ll take down Cormier, and slip on a slick submission…but in the meantime there will be a little back and forth and the threat of a big KO blow by Cormier. If I’m throwing some money down to try to make a profit…I might put it on Cormier hoping that he lands one of those big shots that took out Bigfoot Silva, but my gut says Barnett in the 3rd.
Brendan: “Catch-as-catch-can”…Barnett will catch Cormier in a submission chain at some point in this fight and that will be the difference maker. Barnett by submission (arm-lock).
Jordan: The undefeated up and comer vs. the wily veteran. This is a great opportunity for Cormier. If he wins he is on a fast track to the top of the UFC Heavyweight division and if he loses, he will still be brought over and his stock won’t drop too much. Barnett needs to win this fight to prove that he is worth the big contract that he will ask from the UFC, (that is, if they will even work with him.) Cormier obviously is a great wrestler and should be able to get his takedowns, but Barnett is bigger and I see him finding a way to win this fight. Give me Barnett via submission in the 4th.
Mark: This match hinges on whether Barnett can get Cormier on the ground. Not an easy task against an Olympic wrestler, but Cormier is still green in MMA. I give Cormier the power advantage in his strikes, but I think Barnett is savvy enough to wear down the younger Cormier and eventually put him on his back and finish him. I’ll take Barnett via 3rd rd TKO.
Submission of the Night
Brian: Josh Barnett
Brendan: Josh Barnett
Jordan: Josh Barnett
Mark: Yuri Villefort
Knockout of the Night
Brian: Rafael Cavalcante
Brendan: Mike Kyle
Jordan: Virgil Zwicker
Mark: Rafael Cavalcante
Fight of the Night
Brian: Nah- Shon Burrell vs. Chris Spang
Brendan: Melendez vs. Thomson
Jordan: Cavalcante vs. Kyle
Mark: Gesias Cavalcante vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Brian (73-60) – Co-host of the MMANonstop Podcast and author of the series “The Book On…” exclusively at MMANonstop.com, follow him at twitter.com/bchurchin
Brendan (73-60) - Examines the Top 5 fighters in each weight class and is featured exclusively on MMANonstop.com. Follow him at twitter.com/bchurchin48
Mark (77-51) – Chief Editor and lead contributor to the MMANonstop Podcast, follow him at twitter.com/mmanonstopmark
Jordan (84-49) – Runs the MMANonstop twitter feed and co-host of the MMANonstop Podcast, follow him at twitter.com/nonstopmma