“This hurts me more than it does you.” PicProps: Esther Lin
Bad news for all you rabid Daniel Cormier fans: the big guy confirmed yesterday that his right hand is indeed broken after he used said hand to bludgeon Bigfoot Silva into La-La Land and out of the heavyweight grand prix:
Cormier worked his way from an alternate slot in the Strikeforce GP to a finals matchup with Josh Barnett, but his victories may be all for naught if he doesn’t heal quickly enough.
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.
(Dan Cormier does a dead-on impression of how his face is going to look after he gets hit with one of those fists. / Photo via MMAFighting.com)
Tonight, four big-ass dudes become two, and we mean that in the straightest way possible. Strikeforce’s lovably meaningless heavyweight tournament reaches its semi-final phase tonight at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cicinnati, Ohio, supported by a middleweight title fight and a compelling light-heavyweight feature between Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal and Roger Gracie.
Round-by-round results for the “Barnett vs. Kharitonov” Showtime main card will be piling up after the jump starting at 10:30 p.m. ET. CagePotato liveblog-mercenary Matt Kaplan will be handling business tonight, so please make him feel welcome, and refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest.
MMAFighting was on the scene yesterday for the “Barnett vs. Kharitonov” press conference, and released the above highlight video. Skip to the 1:33 mark to see Daniel Cormier give away his gameplan against Antonio Silva; lots of laughs there. Later, King Mo says what everybody’s thinking: “I was hoping more people [would be] out here, more media, and more questions, but really I guess y’all don’t care about us that much. I’m just keeping it real. Me and Roger [Gracie] gonna put on a good fight, it’s gonna be a good card. I think people are gonna miss out on it because everybody’s worried about other issues instead of the fights this weekend. I’m just being real.”
Also on the card, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza defends his middleweight belt against Luke Rockhold — who hasn’t competed since February 2010 due to injuries — and Maximo Blanco makes his promotional debut against Pat Healy. The complete lineup is after the jump.
Strikeforce is forging ahead with this crazy “Grand Prix” gimmick — no telling how they came up with a concept like that, but props to them — and the semifinals could go down in September. If everything goes according to plan, the event should be packed with good matchups. Let’s take a look.
The heavyweight GP will continue with Alistair Overeem squaring off with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, and “War Master” Josh Barnett against “The Russian Concussion” Sergei Kharitonov. Those two fights alone would be enough to carry a card, but Coker and company want to make it worth your while to watch, so they’ve continued to put together bouts with an eye on producing a blockbuster.
Every other bout currently rumored for the show features a current or former champion for the Strikeforce banner, including a title match for current middleweight champ “Jacare” Souza.
Fabricio Werdum has finally responded to Alistair Overeem’s claims that he should be ashamed of his performance on Saturday night in their Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix quarterfinal match-up. According to Vai Cavalo, Overeem didn’t beat him; he lost the bout on his own by not listening to his corner and instead attempting time and time again to coax “The Demolition Man” into his guard.
“I don’t believe he won, I lost to myself. I could’ve won. The feeling I’m having now is worse than if he has smashed me up and if he was way better than me on the three rounds, winning with a large advantage,” he told TATAME today. “The guys is good, alright, so I’d have to keep my head down and train more. But it wasn’t like that and that made me choked. It was a [mediocre] bout, the fans expected much more, but he didn’t want to the ground at any cost.”
Don’t know about y’all, but I already miss the days when the Rashad Evans/Jon Jones situation was merely awkward, and not openly hostile. The gloves finally came off yesterday when Evans gave an interview to BloodyElbow in which he told everyone what he really thinks about the new UFC light-heavyweight champion, and reveals that he never wanted to train with Jones in the first place. Some highlights…
On Jones’s change of heart before the Shogun fight: “I mean it’s one thing to say something in an interview but the least you could have picked up the phone and been like, ‘man I did an interview today and they kind of put me on the spot with a rough question and I answered it this way.’ At least give me the heads up so that way I know and not look at it if he’s Judas or something. You know who Judas is? That interview was some backstabbing s**t but now it’s like whatever because now I know the game he is playing. Then for Greg to sit back and say he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it….why not? You f**kin’ created the situation. Be his coach and be in his corner. That’s what you want so do it. I don’t care if he coaches against me. It doesn’t even matter.”
[Ed. note: Yeah, I think a guy with a New Testament scripture inked on his chest is pretty familiar with Judas. In all of the verbal-trash that will be slung around in the lead-up to this fight, this is probably the line that will stick with — and motivate — Jones the most.]