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‘Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov’ Aftermath: UFC Auditions, Sans Mansion


King Mo, during the UFC application process post-fight interview. Props: Showtime Sports

Last night, the real story behind “Barnet vs. Kharitonov” had nothing to do with the heavyweight grand prix. It had nothing to do with the middleweight championship of a sinking organization. Last night, as with every other Strikeforce show since the promotion was purchased by Zuffa, was little more than an audition. It was about who will get a UFC contract when Strikeforce goes under, and who will have to go through TUF. The fans knew it, the announcers knew it, going as far as confirming the Belfort vs. Le rumor, and the fighters definitely knew it.

Despite Strikeforce’s best efforts to hype Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov as a potentially close fight, we all knew what to expect: A repeat of Kharitonov vs. Monson, except with a far superior version of Jeff Monson. Because of this, it’s hard to be impressed with anything that Josh Barnett does at this point. The tournament’s biggest names and most intriguing matchups for Barnett- Fedor, Werdum and Overeem- were all removed well before last night. Barnett has become such an overwhelming favorite to win that when he wins, he’s simply living up to expectations. He was paired up against an opponent with weak grappling credentials, knew he would dominate the fight once Kharitonov was on the ground, and fought accordingly. At least the tournament was set up so that he would get to face a competent grappler in the finals.

Oh, about that: Looks like the answer to overcoming Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva’s sheer size and strength lies in exploiting that glass chin. Much like he did in his fight with Jeff Monson, Cormier kept the one dimensional grappler standing as often as possible. Although he showed off his wrestling credentials with an occasional takedown, Cormier refused to fight Silva in his comfort zone by forcing the fight to be stood up every time Silva was on his back. That strategy will work against Antonio Silva, but is his striking good enough to do that against Josh Barnett? For that matter, is Josh Barnett’s grappling going to prove too much for Cormier at this point in his career? We’ll have to wait until Cormier recovers from the hand injury he suffered, which will more than likely be early 2012. Assuming that Strikeforce is around at this time, of course.

If there’s one fighter who didn’t seem to realize that last night was an audition, it was “Jacare” Souza. Souza seemed to buy into the nonsense that some people were spewing about how Jacare vs. Anderson Silva would be a fight worth watching, and seemed to believe that as long as he could go the distance against Luke Rockhold, the judges would give him the fight. Yes, it was far closer than the 50-45 fight that some people seemed to believe it was. Yes, Jacare probably should have lost by split decision instead of unanimous decision. But does it really matter? A losing effort, no matter how close, is still a losing effort. Still, give Luke Rockhold the credit that he deserves for his performance last night. After shaking off the cobwebs that come with over a year and a half away from competition during the first round, Luke Rockhold fought like someone who saw the fight for the audition that it was. It’ll be interesting to see who he gets to defend the title against (again, assuming Strikeforce is around long enough for him to do so).

Other than that, King Mo showed that having “good striking for a Gracie” is like being “a good fighter for a professional reporter”, shutting out Roger Gracie’s lights early. Do we even bother angling for a fight against Dan Henderson, or do we just assume that both guys will be in the UFC before the next Strikeforce card? That isn’t rhetorical, comments section. Also, Pat Healy managed to survive Maximo Blanco’s wild strikes- some of which illegal- long enough to spoil Blanco’s hype. Healy sure has a habit of killing the hype for Strikeforce prospects. Let’s see if that translates into a step up in competition for him.

Full results, courtesy of MMAJunkie:

OFFICIAL MAIN CARD RESULTS

Josh Barnett def. Sergei Kharitonov via submission (head-arm triangle choke) – Round 1, 4:28
Daniel Cormier def. Antonio Silva via knockout (strikes) – Round 1, 3:56
Luke Rockhold def. Ronaldo Souza via unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47, 48-47)
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal def. Roger Gracie via KO (punch) – Round 1, 4:33
Pat Healy def. Maximo Blanco via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:24

OFFICIAL PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS

Mike Kyle def. Marcos Rogerio de Lima via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante def. Yoel Romero via KO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:51
Jordan Mein def. Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 3:18
Alexis Davis def. Amanda Nunes via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:53
Dominique Steele def. Chris Mierzwiak via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)

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texican666- September 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm
Homie u can kick me from the position Healy and Blanco was in any day of the week. And how many times have u seen someone take a nut shot and act like it was the end of the world? Have u seen any of the og UFC no rules fights, where nut shots were legal? How many fighters did u see in that era go down like a lil bitch due to a nut shot? Fuckin none! Are balls just more sensitive now a days ass clowns? And what about Koscheck faking getting kneed in the face? Guess u missed that fight huh? Like i said, I hate the WWE dramatics I see some days. I realize Healy took illegal shots, I never said he didn't, but they were pussy kicks.
dranokills- September 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm
I watched all those fights, and I gotta say I recall a few years back Rampage was giving Queen MO a bunch of shit about not being a real MMA fighter and talking some serious smack to him on a bus or something....after watching him fight last night, Rampage is right.
Bellator shouldn't even want Mo, much less UFC.
Healy looked like a slow white guy with no skills and submitted a dude who had no idea what a choke was I guess.
Cormier was the only one last night that I would like to see fight in the UFC.
Bigfoot Silva? sheeeeeit nigga pleeasseeeee, when he beat FADEor the russian can beater I knew he wasn't much. keep your acromegaly looking face out of the cage.
Josh Barnett, your time has come and gone. enjoy your win, it's all your gonna have.
Todd M- September 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm
Socratic speaks the truth, no judge, not even cecils should have given that fight to Jacare. So the paper belt that is the Strikeforce MW championship has a new owner, and we can all stop hearing how Jacare would be a good matchup for Silva. Good for Rockhold though must have been tough to go 5 rounds after sitting out for so long, his striking looked much improved but he's got a ways to go before being UFC championship ready. Cormier looked great, striking like that mixed with olympic wrestling is a legit threat, I think he's like Cain and Bones in that he's only going to get better every fight, Silva is a sucker for the smaller mans over hand right, Fedor should have tried getting inside and throwing that instead of trading at Silva's arm length. King Mo, I'm not impressed, good luck with any real strikers who can keep it standing and what can you say about 'Warmaster', dude puts as much effort into his cheesy throat slash gimmick as he does the whole fight, I hope Cormier turns that tubby fucks lights out before Dana says 'Not Interested'
amsterdamheavy- September 11, 2011 at 8:00 pm
I wish they would penalize more fighters for illegal blows. Too much of that "it wasnt intentional" shit going around. As for how strong those shots were...let me kick you in the fuckin face like that Texican, when youre not expecting it, and see how you take it and recover.
KarmaAteMyCat- September 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm
A strike to a downed opponent is Illegal no matter which way you cut it. Any fighter out there would have taken a few moment to collect themselves regardless of how you think it should have gone or not it's not ALA WWE anything its a RULE.
texican666- September 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm
Those were some of the weakest illegal blows to Healy's head. What kind of power could have Blanco had when he kicked downwards while on his side? Not much, yet Healy still looked like he had been hit with steal chair over his head, ala WWE. I hate when fighters sell illegal blows to the ref and crowd. Great fights all around, gonna miss these free Strikeforce cards, that is for sure.
RwilsonR- September 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm
Thank you Socratic! I'm tired of people (some who seem to get paid professionally to write about MMA) not understanding scoring themselves, even while they are complaining about the scoring of others. You can have a razor thin fight scored as a 50-45 unanimous decision if one fighter narrowly edges out the other each round. It doesn't mean it is a blowout. A split decision isn't something you hope for, as it means the judges aren't seeing the fight equally. A split decision doesn't mean a closer fight.
k-onda- September 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm
I watched the whole video and didn't see any dry humping or motor boating, what gives?
djp1988- September 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm
Strikeforce right now reminds me of Frank in It's Always Sunny:

"I don’t know how many years on this Earth I got left, I’m gonna get real weird with it."
danomite- September 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm
Cromier won, but won't be able to continue? do you hear that Dana White?! That's destiny telling you it wants Chad Griggs to win the Grand Prix.
amsterdamheavy- September 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm
'Mo and that stupid ass crown & medallion are an embarrassment - he thinks hes some kind of professional wrestler with that dumb ass schtick. To paraphrase Chris Rock "He's keepin it real all right - real DUMB".
Austin3210- September 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm
Edit: loss*
Austin3210- September 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm
@Socratic

I was getting ready to say the same thing. Giving rounds to Jacare is one thing, scoring the fight in his favor is another. You can't say it should have been a split decision win, it just doesn't make sense.
SocraticMethod- September 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm
"Yes, Jacare probably should have lost by split decision instead of unanimous decision." -- Huh? One of the judge's should have seen the fight wrong?
TheGazzzMan- September 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm
I would defiantly eat her asshole
Get Off Me- September 11, 2011 at 11:17 am
Zuffa fucked up SF. Obviously Showtime and the Zuffa brass could not come to terms and so SF will dissolve once the Showtime deal is done.
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