With three weeks having gone by since the final Strikeforce card of the year and preparations being made for the first event of the New Year, it’s safe to say that Scott Coker has had his fair share of ups and downs. From the debut of acquisition and debut of Ryan Couture, son of MMA Legend Randy Couture, to the return of Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem, to the infamous “Nashville Brawl”; Strikeforce has been all over the spectrum this year.

With such ups and downs and the end of the year just days away a list of highs and lows has been compiled for you reading pleasure. On one end we have the top three best fights of 2010 and on the other end we have the top three fights that didn’t live up the hype that was built up around them.

Best fights of 2010

Tim Kennedy (12-3) vs. Renaldo Souza (13-2-1) at Strikeforce: Houston

When Jake Shields left Strikeforce and signed with the UFC, the Strikeforce Middleweight title was left without an owner. Coming off a win over Joey Villasenor, and with Jason Milller on suspension, Jacare Souza was set to face off with Tim Kennedy to crown a new Middleweight Champion. Coming into this fight, many were saying that if it went to the ground it was going to favor Jacare. However, it was Kennedy who first secured a takedown and looked to work on the ground. After a back and forth fight that went the distance, Renaldo “Jacare” Souza was given the nod from the judges and crowned the new Strikeforce Middleweight Championship.

Antonio Silva (15-2) vs. Mike Kyle (18-8-2) at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu II

Originally, Silva was scheduled to face Valentjin Overeem. Unfortunately, just weeks before the fight, Overeem suffered a hand injury that required him to pull out of the fight. It was thought that Silva would be pulled from the card and the fight would be rescheduled. However, Mike Kyle stepped up and agreed to fight “Bigfoot” Silva. While Kyle came in forty pounds lighter than Silva, he dropped him in the first round with a big right hand and immediately rushed in and tried to finish him off. Luckily for Silva, his large head and strong chin prevented Kyle from putting him to sleep. In the second round, it was Silva who scored the knockdown. After landing some big shots cleanly on Kyle’s chin, he was out cold and the referee stopped the fight. After the fight, Kyle revealed that he broke his hand in the first round when he was trying to finish Silva on the ground.

Jake Shields (24-4-1) vs. Dan Henderson (26-8) at Strikeforce: Nashville

With only one fight left on his contract before he became a “free agent”, Jake Shields was set to defend his Middleweight Championship. Not long beforehand, Scott Coker acquired former PRIDE Champion Dan Henderson. Everybody knew that Shields had been negotiating with UFC President Dana White and Scott Coker was not happy about it. In an attempt to kill two birds with one stone by finding a new champion and punish Shields, Coker named Henderson as the number one contender for the Middleweight Championship. The majority of people assumed Henderson was going to come in, use his wrestling to control Shields and pretty much take the fight where ever he wanted to go and seal the deal with his signature overhand right. Much to the dismay of Coker, and many others, Shields had a plan of his own that didn’t involve being knocked out. Shields used his striking and his wrestling to take the fight to Henderson and dominate his way to a unanimous decision and retain his title. Shortly after, Shields vacated his championship and left for the UFC.

Fights that didn’t meet the hype:

Gilbert Melendez (18-2) vs. Shinya Aoki (26-5-1) at Strikeforce: Nashville

When Shinya Aoki was announced to face Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez, he was supposed to be the one to prove that Japanese MMA wasn’t dead. Coming off a brutal victory over Mizuto Hirota in which he broke his arm with a hammer lock and the proceeded to flip him off, Aoki thought he was going to come in, use his high level jiu-jitsu skills and take the belt with ease. Melendez apparently missed that memo and played to his strengths as he controlled the fight on the ground and on the feet, prevented Aoki from mounting virtually any offense and easily coasted to a unanimous decision.

Marius Zaromskis (13-5-1) vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf (8-7-2) at ShoMMA: Wilcox vs. Ribeiro

In the days leading up to this fight, everyone was talking about it. With both men favoring the standup game and having a high number of combined (T)KO wins/losses, a lot of fans were expecting this to be a good standup fight similar to Smith/Sell from The TUF 4 Finale. As the introductions were going on, the anticipation was building more and more with each passing second. Unfortunately, just six seconds in Zaromskis leaped into the air and accidentally poked Spiritwolf in the eye with his thumb. As per the norm, Spiritwolf was given time to recover and after the allotted time claimed that he could not see. After having a ringside physician examine his eye, it was determined that he could not continue and the fight was ruled a no contest. Days worth of hype built up and the fight was called off with just six seconds expired and not a single punch was thrown.

Nick Diaz (23-7-1) vs. KJ Noons (9-2) at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Noons II

The hype for this fight was built up mostly based on the fact that Noons defeated Diaz three years earlier at EliteXC: Renegade. That fight was stopped after the first round due to the cuts Diaz had sustained throughout the first round and Noons was crowned the first ever EliteXC Lightweight Champion.  Diaz insisted it was a fluke and wouldn’t happen again. Noons claimed that not only would he beat Nick Diaz again, he would knock him out. The trash talking between the two was nonstop up until the seconds just before the fight began. Repeatedly, each fighter promised to knock the other out cold. However, the fight consisted mostly of Noon continually wiping his hair out of his eyes while eating numerous jabs from Diaz. Diaz landed a few power punches and an early takedown to easily picked up a Unanimous Decision.

Best of both worlds:

Fedor Emelianenko (32-2-1) vs. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1) at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum

This fight fits into both of the aforementioned categories as it was a highly memorable fight but the hype built up around it didn’t quite pan out.  Coming into this fight, very few people gave Werdum any chance to win. Within the first few seconds, it appeared as if everyone who picked Fedor to win would be correct as he dropped Werdum with a big punch and immediately jumped on him, trying to finish.  Luckily for Werdum, Fedor came in wide and sloppy and fell into Werdum’s guard. As he was trying to posture up and rain down punches, Fedor left himself open for a submission and Werdum quickly took it. At just one minute and nine seconds into the first round, Fedor was forced to tap to Werdum’s Triangle-Armbar submission. The hype that was built around this fight was geared more towards Fedor walking through another opponent, but instead he was submitted in just over a minute.

Even with the ups and downs, Strikeforce had a good year and will be looking to do big things in 2011. Feel free to leave us a comment and give us your opinions for best fight, worst fight or both.

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