The 411 MMA Top 10 10.22.12: Top 10 Strikeforce Fighters
Posted by Alex Rella on 10.22.2012
From Nick Diaz, Frank Shamrock and Gilbert Melendez to Ronda Rousey, Cyborg Santos and more, 411's Alex Rella counts down the top 10 MMA fighters to have competed in Strikeforce!
Strikeforce's Top Ten Fighters
Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at the top ten fighters that have competed in Strikeforce over the years. But first, Thoughts from last week and other random stuff:
• Last week's list was the top ten Anderson Silva fights. Thank you for all the comments as there was some good discussion.
• The fight with Ryo Chonan- I forgot how awesome the flying heel hook was but I didn't think Silva looked good enough or the fight was significant enough overall in his career to make the list.
• There were a few comments regarding his fight with Forrest Griffin. Some of you thought it should have been number one and one reader said it was fixed. Cleary it wasn't fixed and I felt it was too one sided to get ranked higher. The other higher fights were more competitive, at least as competitive as Anderson Silva can be.
• And the fight with Maia was the worst fight of his career.
• One person said Dan Henderson is a B-level fighter. Really? Back to this week's list
I have been a big Strikeforce fan for years but unfortunately it's reaching the end of the road and even I can no longer defend its existence. Strikeforce was founded originally in 1985 as a kickboxing company but made the switch to MMA in 2006. The company was making strides and becoming a nice alternative to the UFC before it was purchased by Zuffa in 2011. Of course no one person is to blame for the current situation Strikeforce is in. This is an all time list that was comprised by the fighter's overall impact, significance, record, time in the company, titles, fight performance, and my personal opinion.
• Mo Lawal- former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion was a top fighter in the company for a few years before getting released earlier this year.
• Jake Shields- defeated Mayhem Miller for the vacant middleweight title and then defended it against Dan Henderson before leaving for the UFC.
• Alistair Overeem- won the heavyweight championship in 2007 but wouldn't fight again in the company until 2010. One title defense over Brett Rogers and a lackluster victory over Werdum aren't enough to crack the top ten.
• Miesha Tate- debuted in 2008 for Strikeforce but really put things together in 2010 as she won the women's bantamweight tournament and later the title. She dropped the title to Rousey this year but rebounded in a great fight against Julie Kezdie in August.
10: Luke Rockhold
Rockhold joined the company when he was only 1-1 in 2008. Rockhold has really developed into one of the top middleweights in the world in recent years. He defeated Ronaldo Souza for the title in 2011 and has successfully defended twice since then. Rockhold was supposed to fight against Lorenz Larkin in November but unfortunately had to pull out due to an injury. Rockhold is trained in jiu-jisu and kickboxing which makes him very dangerous. I expect him to dominate in the UFC once Strikeforce folds.
The Legend Frank Shamrock fought sporadically since leaving the UFC in 1999 but he debuted in Strikeforce in 2006. Shamrock headlined the first Strikeforce event against Cesar Gracie. Shamrock would knock him out 21 seconds into the fight. Shamrock became Strikeforce's first middleweight champion in 2007 when he made Phil Baroni pass out. Shamrock became the first person to hold titles in the UFC, WEC, and Strikeforce. Shamrock would lose the title to Le and retire after losing to Nick Diaz in 2009. Shamrock has since moved onto commentary and working behind the scenes with the company.
Henderson came over to Strikeforce in 2010 and immediately challenged Jake Shields for his middleweight title. Henderson lost to Shields by unanimous decision in a lackluster fight. I think Henderson just shouldn't have been fighting at middleweight anymore at this point in his career. Henderson would then win the remaining three fights on his contract. Henderson knocked out Sobral to earn a light heavyweight title shot against Cavalcante. This was a pretty good title fight as Henderson won the title by TKO in the third round. Henderson would then move up to heavyweight to challenge Fedor Emelianenko. Henderson only weighted 207 pounds but would still defeat Fedor in both men's final fight in the company.
Cung Le has a fight coming up next month with Rich Franklin in China which I'm looking forward to. The winner of the fight should move on to get a chance against some of the top fighters in the UFC middleweight division. Cung Le was undefeated in kickboxing and sanshou when he made his MMA and Strikeforce debut in 2006. Le defeated Frank Shamrock for the middleweight championship in only his sixth professional fight. Le's exciting style made him a top draw for the company at the time as they were still establishing themselves. Unfortunately for Strikeforce he would vacate the title to focus on his acting career and would only fight twice more for the company before joining the UFC in 2011.
6: Cristiane Santos
While her legacy has been marred a great deal after testing positive for steroids, Santos has played a big role in the history of Strikeforce. Cyborg left EliteXC for Strikeforce in 2009 and is currently undefeated inside the promotion. In her second fight in the company, Cyborg fought Gina Carano for the inaugural Strikeforce women's bantamweight championship. In an awful yet kinda awesome moment leading up to the fight, Cyborg choked out a reporter in seconds after as he was interviewing her about the fight. Cyborg won the fight by first round TKO. This was an historic moment as this was the first time a women's fight main evented for a major promotion. Cyborg defended her title three times but the last one was changed to a no contest after testing positive. Her suspension ends in December and the potential fight with Rousey could be one of the biggest fights in MMA next year.
While Cormier has fought a few times outside of Strikeforce, the company has done a great job of building him up the point where he is at today. The former Olympian started his MMA career in 2009 with Strikeforce. Cormier first big fight came in June 2011 when he defeated Jeff Monson by unanimous decision. Then Cormier would replace Overeem in Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix. Cormier pulled off a great upset when he knocked out Bigfoot Silva who had just brutally defeated Fedor in the last round. Cormier met Josh Barnett in the finals this past May. Cormier defeated the former UFC heavyweight champion and gave him his first loss since 2006. This fight went the full five rounds and it was a pretty good fight, most five round heavyweight fights aren't too exciting. Cormier only has one fight left in Strikeforce before he comes over to the UFC. Hopefully Frank Mir will be healed up by January.
4: Ronda Rousey
Rowdy Ronda Rousey has only been with the company since 2011 but she's already one of the most influential people in the company's history. Rousey is currently Strikeforce's women's bantamweight champion and has won all of her fights via armbar. Arguably the most dominant champion in MMA today, only her fight with Miesha Tate has gone past a minute. Rousey has been a great crossover star for Strikeforce and the sport as she has been in ESPN magazine, talk shows, and is an Olympic bronze medalist. Rousey has also been crucial in slowly changing Dana White's mind towards women's MMA. It appears that she may be the first woman to fight in the UFC.
Best known for his trilogy with Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson has had a pretty good career so far. Thomson joined Strikeforce at the inaugural event in 2006 after briefly competing in the UFC and Pride. A few months after his debut, Thomson became Strikeforce's first (and only) U.S. lightweight champion. I don't know why they felt the need to have the separate lightweight title but it looks good on Thomson's resume. He would defeat Melendez for the other lightweight title in 2008 but would unfortunately lose it back over a year later. The past few years have been tough for the Punk as he's been dealing with injuries but he and Melendez finished their awesome trilogy in May. Another great fight that lead to some discussion of a fourth fight but I don't see it happening for awhile, if it happens.
2: Nick Diaz
Nick Diaz left the UFC in 2006 after defeating Gleison Tibau at UFC 63. He would spend the next two years competing in Pride and EliteXC. Diaz made his Strikeforce debut in 2009 after EliteXC folded. Diaz took on the Legend Frank Shamrock in his first fight and dominated him for two rounds. This would be the last fight of Shamrock's career as he lost by TKO in the second. Diaz went on the best run of his career in Strikeforce as Diaz went 6-0 in the company. This included winning Strikeforce's welterweight title in 2010. Diaz defended the title three times before returning to the UFC in 2011.
This made for an easy top pick as Gilbert Melendez has been a foundation for Strikeforce since he joined the organization. El Nino's fought on the first night of Strikeforce and he defeated Clay Guida for the lightweight championship only a few months later. Melendez lost and regained his title to Josh Thompson in their trilogy which was easily the three best fights in the company's history. He should be able to hang right with the top lightweights in the UFC when he eventually goes over. Personally I think he's the best lightweight in the world today. Melendez holds many of Strikeforce's records including most title defenses, championship fights, and most wins. So Melendez is the best Strikeforce fighter in the company's history and one of the best lightweights of all time.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
• Save the date: Nov 9th, Pro Wrestling Syndicate is having another stacked show. AS of now the show has Jerry Lynn, Matt Hardy, Colt Cabana, Davey Richards, Kevin Steen, Tony Nese, Rene Dupree, Sami Callihan, Kevin Matthews, yours truly, and Mr. Belding will be returning to challenge for the title.
• Next week we'll look at the top ten MMA movies.