TWV Staff Predictions - Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier
It feels like it’s been an eternity since the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix began, but Saturday night we will final see the conclusion of the ambitious tournament. The fight between Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier will not only be the end of the Grand Prix, but also the last Heavyweight bout that takes place under the Strikeforce banner. The event will also be surrounded by plenty of speculation of what exactly the future of the organization is. At this point, Zuffa’s B-team is essentially just known as the main home for women’s MMA and sees top guys like Gilbert Melendez stuck without much legitimate competition. With all that said, let’s take a look at Saturday’s main card as the TWV staff gives our predictions for all four bouts.
TWV Pick Stats
Danny Acosta: 20/32
Justin Ivey: 18/32
Anthony Springer: 17/32
Andreas Hale: 16/32
Matt Wright: 16/32
Nene Wallace Reed: 15/32
Heavyweight Grand Prix Final: Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier
The main attraction of the night will be the Grand Prix finale pitting UFC and Pride veteran Josh Barnett against the uber-talented Daniel Cormier. The contest will arguably be the biggest fight Strikeforce has put on since Dan Henderson and Jake Shields met for the Middleweight title in 2010. The winner of this bout figures to jump right into the UFC Heavyweight title picture, so there’s obviously a lot more than a Grand Prix belt on the line. While Barnett is certainly a grizzled vet in the sport, he’s still only 34 years old and clearly has a lot left in the tank. The former UFC champion comes into this bout on an eight-fight win streak and will be Cormier’s toughest test to date. For Cormier, this is his first chance to show if he’s truly part of the Heavyweight elite. The accomplished wrestler has shown improvement in every fight and if he notches an impressive victory over Barnett, the undefeated Cormier could be looking at a UFC title shot in the near future.
Danny Acosta: Josh Barnett def. Daniel Cormier
Andreas Hale: Daniel Cormier def. Josh Barnett via decision
Justin Ivey: Daniel Cormier def. Josh Barnett via decision
Nene Wallace Reed: Daniel Cormier def. Josh Barnett via decision
Anthony Springer: Daniel Cormier def. Josh Barnett via TKO
Matt Wright: Josh Barnett def. Daniel Cormier via submission
Lightweight Championship bout: Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson
It’s starting to feel like we’re never going to get to see Gilbert Melendez truly get tested by a top ranked Lightweight. The Strikeforce Lightweight champion will step into the cage with Josh Thomson for third time in the rubber match of their trilogy. Just a few years ago that would sound like a great potential fight, but now it’s just a product of the lack of competition inside Strikeforce. Josh Thomson hardly earned a title shot, defeating K.J. Noons in an unimpressive effort following a two year layoff. But now, he’s thrown right into the title picture. Melendez and Thomson’s first two fights were extremely exciting, but this appears to be a one-sided bout in favor of the champion this time around. Perhaps Thomson can surprise us all and look like his old self, but regardless he will have a tough time matching up with Melendez.
Danny Acosta: Gilbert Melendez def. Josh Thomson
Andreas Hale: Gilbert Melendez def. Josh Thomson via decision
Justin Ivey: Gilbert Melendez def. Josh Thomson via TKO
Nene Wallace Reed: Gilbert Melendez def. Josh Thomson via decision
Anthony Springer: Gilbert Melendez def. Josh Thomson via anything he wants
Matt Wright: Gilbert Melendez def. Josh Thomson via decision
Light Heavyweight bout: Mike Kyle vs. Rafael Cavalcante
If you’re the betting type, it’d be wise to put some money down on this fight ending in someone getting knocked out. Mike Kyle and Rafael Cavalcante are both hoping to stay on the winning track as the two meet in a rematch of their 2009 bout which saw Kyle knock out the Brazilian in the second round. These two heavy hitters will likely be throwing heavy leather once again, though Cavalcante has an advantage on the ground. If he plays it safe, Cavalcante could turn this into a jiu-jitsu battle but don’t bank on that. The former Strikeforce champion is confident in his hands and will be willing to test them against an equally powerful Kyle.
Danny Acosta: Rafael Cavalcante def. Mike Kyle
Andreas Hale: Rafael Cavalcante def. Mike Kyle via submission
Justin Ivey: Mike Kyle def. Rafael Cavalcante via KO
Nene Wallace Reed: Mike Kyle def. Rafael Cavalcante via TKO
Anthony Springer: Rafael Cavalcante def. Mike Kyle via decision
Matt Wright: Rafael Cavalcante def. Mike Kyle via KO
Welterweight bout: Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Chris Spang
Kicking off things Saturday will be Welterweights Nah-Shon Burrell and Chris Spang, who were surprisingly included on the main card. Burrell is a talented, 22-year old prospect who is 3-0 so far under the Strikeforce banner. On the other side of the cage, Chris Spang will try to get back on track after suffering his first ever defeat at the hands Ricky Legere back in January. It appears Strikeforce is throwing Spang to the wolves so to speak as Burrell will have a chance to showcase his skills on the big stage. And in a Strikeforce Welterweight division that is lacking in top flight contenders outside of Tyron Woodley and newly signed Nate Marquardt, Burrell could take a significant step up the ladder with a victory.
Danny Acosta: Nah-Shon Burrell def. Chris Spang
Andreas Hale: Nah-Shon Burrell def. Chris Spang via TKO
Justin Ivey: Nah-Shon Burrell def. Chris Spang via TKO
Nene Wallace Reed: Nah-Shon Burrell def. Chris Spang via TKO
Anthony Springer: Nah-Shon Burrell def. Chris Spang via TKO
Matt Wright: Nah-Shon Burrell def. Chris Spang via decision