Source: MMA Mania
Gilbert Melendez squeaked by a split decision against Josh Thomson Saturday night from San Jose, CA at the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix final to retain his lightweight title. The fight was not without controversy as many who saw the fight, myself included, thought Thomson did enough to take the title from Melendez. Apparently Fight Metric reported that Gil beat Josh in every category and so should have won the fight. But from what I saw, Thomson won the fight. Even if Gil was able to get 5 of 10 take downs to the ground, he didn’t do any damage. Josh was able to take Gil down and take his back almost finishing him in the fourth round. Additionally, Josh was more aggressive than Gil was pushing the action in the championship rounds. The disappointing thing for Josh is that he probably won’t get a rematch even though the fight was close. And the thing I have been saying all along about Strikeforce is that they don’t have a stable of talent to throw at Gil. So while Gil was not impressive tonight, he won’t be given quality fights to prove himself either. Lets see what Strikeforce will do with these two guys but I think they will have Gil move on possibly against a Pat Healy or maybe even KJ Noons.
In the main event of the night, Daniel Cormier, a fighter who was an alternate at the Grand Prix, winds up winning the tournament with his high level wrestling. Cormier, an Olympic caliber wrestler and AKA teammate, used his wrestling to keep Barnett at bay. Barnett was never really able to threaten Cormier except in the fourth round when he had a hold of Cormier’s ankle and was attempting a heel hook which Cormier slipped out of. A lot of people are calling Cormier “Black Fedor” for his physique and stand up game which resembles Fedor Emelianenko. The name is fitting as Cormier has been on a tear lately. He is 4-0 in Strikeforce and 10-0 in his MMA career. Cormier has looked better and better each time he has fought. He has to be considered a legit contender at heavyweight except for his size. But the way in which Cormier was able to take down and slam the larger Barnett, I don’t see him having a problem with his smaller size. There is no word on who Cormier may face for his final fight in Strikeforce. It would have been interesting to see Black Fedor fighting the original Fedor. That won’t happen now that Fedor has already said his fight with Pedro Rizzo next month will be his last. You never know though, one more fight in America could lure the Russian out of retirement. This match up would be a nice way for Strikeforce to send off its heavyweight division for good.
Here are the event results:
Daniel Cormier def. Josh Barnett via unanimous decision
Gilbert Melendez def. Josh Thomson via split decision
Rafael Cavalcante def. Mike Kyle via submission (guillotine)
Chris Spang def. Nah-Shon Burrell by TKO
Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Gesias Cavalcante by split decision
Guto Inocente def. Virgil Zwicker via unanimous decision
Gian Villante def. Derrick Mehmen via unanimous decision
Quinn Mulhern def. Yuri Villefort via split decision
Bobby Green def. James Terry via split decision
Update 5/22/2012: Gilbert Melendez said despite the close decision win against Josh Thomson, he expects the trilogy fight to be his last with Thomson and wants to move on to “new blood”. Melendez expects Pat Healy to be next although he said he will not be campaigning for a certain opponent.
It turns out both Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett will have one more fight left on their Strikeforce contract. Cormier was expected to have one more fight after winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, but Barnett was the surprise that was revealed by Zuffa today. Unfortunately for Strikeforce, both fighters suffered hand injuries in their fight and will most likely have to get surgery. No word yet on who their opponents will be.
Update 7/25/2012: As expected Gilbert Melendez will be facing Pat Healy next. Their fight will be on the same card as Daniel Cormier–although we still don’t know who Cormier will be facing. The fight will take place in Sacramento on September 29.