Zuffa’s plan is for the winner of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix to fight one more fight in Strikeforce before moving to the UFC. I am not exactly sure of the logic of that move, but that is the plan nonetheless. The question is, who will the Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier winner fight? I guess a lot of that depends on whether or not the winner comes away healthy. I also would imagine that Zuffa is going to be somewhat careful picking the next opponent for the winner of the tournament. It is risky enough for the winner to fight one more time. If the Barnett vs. Cormier winner were to lose their “title defense” it would certainly hurt. I also imagine that the opponent they chose may depend on who wins Saturday. Either way I would expect that Zuffa wants the biggest name opponent that poses the least threat.
Here are a few options…
Fedor Emelianenko – This is the fight that most people will want, but it won’t happen. Fedor’s management is still an issue for Zuffa. The timing is also probably off as Fedor will fight in June and I would imagine that Zuffa would want to know their plan by then. In all honesty it would be a great opportunity for Fedor, but he is too much of a threat.
Todd Duffee – Duffee is a guy that was once very promising. I don’t know for sure, but I think he has issues. Who knows why he was fighting Overeem at this point in his career? Duffee is a UFC veteran who could very well be looked at for the fight.
Segei Kharitonov – Kharitonov is a top 25 ranked heavyweight who is zero threat opponent to either Cormier or Barnett (as we saw). This won’t happen as there is obviously issues with Kharitonov wanting to do K-1.
Satoshi Ishii – Ishii was once a promising prospect, perhaps he still is. I do have to question his managment. He is coming off of a loss to Fedor Emelianenko (a fight he should never have fought). However he is an olympic gold medalist in judo. Also, Ishii had reportedly at one time signed with Strikeforce, but it evidently fell through. Ishii maybe the right guy here.
Devin Cole – Cole is a Strikeforce veteran who the UFC did not carry over. Cole is a solid veteran with some good wins under his belt. However, he has fought and lost to Cormier already. I don’t see any point in that re-match. Maybe if Barnett wins he could be the guy, but I still doubt it.
Soa Palelei – There is some momentum to get Soa back into the UFC. I think there is a good chance that eventually happens. However, I don’t think he is the right type of opponent for Barnett or Cormier, but it isn’t impossible.
Jeff Monson – Monson is not a big name, but he is a decent name, a solid veteran with a credible resume. I don’t expect this to be a reality because Monson already has career losses to Barnett and Cormier.
Tim Sylvia – There has been a serious push to get Tim Sylvia back in the UFC. Dana White has wanted none of that. Personally, I do not think Sylvia could hang with any of the UFC heavyweights, but he is a big name. He also does not pose much threat to either Barnett or Cormier. Plus, it would give him a chance and shut up those clamoring for his return.
Jared Rosholt – I like this idea, but Rosholt is too coveted of a prospect in a division where prospects do not come easily. I also think that the target opponent will be more a veteran and than a prospect.
Rolles Gracie – This really is possible. Rolles is a UFC veteran. He has a big name. He just beat Bob Sapp. He really is very little threat to Cormier or Barnett. Don’t be shocked if this is the opponent.
Or…Perhaps they could go with a current UFC fighter who they would cut. Perhaps a guy like Roy Nelson if he loses at UFC 146.
Other names: (Andrei Arlovski, Mike Ciesnolevicz, Tim Hague)