Days after Strikeforce held its final event; the UFC announced that several of the promotions fighters have joined the ranks of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Not all of the fighters are coming over but this also wasn’t the complete and final list, expect a few more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Prior to the announcement on Tuesday’s UFC tonight, the UFC had already made the announcement that former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and heavyweight Daniel Cormier would be making their promotional debuts on the April 20th UFC on FOX 7 card in San Jose, California. Melendez will be taking on the UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the night’s main event, while Cormier will finally get his fight with Frank Mir.
The remaining 16 fighters announced to be joining the ranks of the UFC include two light heavyweights, four welterweights and five from the middleweight and lightweight divisions. Some of the fighters have already begun to call out guys they’d like to be matched up with, while others find themselves the one being called out.
They will all find out soon enough but here is the current list of Strikeforce fighters making the move along with our suggested match-ups.
Gegard Mousasi – Mousasi is coming off first round submission win against Mike Kyle last week but it was just his first fight 13 months. A bout against the winner of Saturday’s bout between Ryan Bader and Vladimir Matyushenko would be a good test.
Gian Villante – Having won three in a row, Villante might sound good but looking at those opponents does not. A fight against Brandon Vera to try and make it four in row sounds good.
Luke Rockhold – It sounds like the former Strikeforce middleweight champion wants Costa Philippou for his debut, which probably comes as a shock to most. It surprised me but Philippou did just defeat Tim Boetsch and with Alan Belcher also losing it isn’t that bad of a pick.
Jacare Souza – After looking very impressive against UFC veteran Ed Herman last week it’s obvious Jacare is ready for the top guys inside the Octagon. He might want to wait this long but a fight with the winner of the March 2nd bout between Hector Lombard and Yushin Okami would be a good fight.
Tim Kennedy – Coming off a loss to Luck Rockhold, Kennedy got a big win last weekend against Trevor Smith. Putting him against the former Strikeforce middleweight Jake Shields is a good test for both fighters.
Roger Gracie – I’m not sure the UFC really knows what they have in Gracie so a fight with Luiz Cane might give them a better idea.
Lorenz Larkin – He was schedule to fight Luke Rockhold before the champ suffered an injury. It would make sense for him to fight Rockhold in their first UFC bout but obvious doesn’t always happen. If that doesn’t happen a fight with Francis Carmont would be a very still test for the striker.
Tarec Saffiedine – Saffiedine pulled off the upset win over Nate Marquardt to win the Strikeforce welterweight title. The biggest win of his career earned him a place in the UFC but he is still going to have his doubters. Mike Pyle wants a top fighter in the welterweight division so how about giving him a champion?
Nate Marquardt – The loss to Saffiedine hurts Marquardt’s standing with in the division but it was also only his second fight at that weight class. A possible fight against Thiago Alves would not only be a fun fight but would also hold a lot of intrigue within the division.
Roger Bowling – Coming off a loss against Saffiedine doesn’t look so bad anymore but going 3-3 over the last six fights does. Rick Story is kind of in the same boat, match them up and see who sinks.
Jason High – We haven’t seen Jason High fight much but since leaving the UFC after one loss he has won seven fights in a row. Even though Marquardt is coming off a loss it would be a solid match up for their return to the Octagon.
Josh Thomson – The record might not show it but Thomson is a top lightweight and nearly defeated Gilbert Melendez his last time he fought. I’m sure Thomson would love another crack at Yves Edwards should he win at UFC 156 but another option would be Jim Miller.
K.J. Noons – While he might never be champion, Noons always brings the fight to his opponent and having him face Melvin Guillard in his Octagon debut would be epic. Start writing the bonus checks now.
Pat Healy – He was supposed to fight Gilbert Melendez at the last Strikeforce but instead he defeated Kurt Holobaugh. Healy wants a big name like a Joe Lauzon or Jim Miller which each sound about right for a guy in his position. Another name that comes to mind should Healy not get his wish is Jamie Varner.
Adriano Martins – Martins made his Strikeforce debut on the unaired portion of the final Strikeforce preliminary card. After defeated the former UFC fighter Jorge Gurgel by unanimous decision a rematch against Francisco Trinaldo (should he win this weekend) sounds good.
Kurt Holobaugh – Rumor has it Holobaugh, who lost to Pat Healy in his Strikeforce debut will be moving to the featherweight division. If that is the case, the once undefeated fighter should be matched against either Cole Miller or Rodrigo Damm for his UFC debut.
With two of the promotions top fighters already scheduled to fight in the former home of Strikeforce on April 20th, it would only make since to add a few of the above names to that fight card.