Last night, the final MMA event under the STRIKEFORCE brand went down in Oklahoma City. The only real surprise was underdog Tarec Saffiedine breaking theough at welterweight and taking the title from champion Nate Marquardt. The rest of the card was filled with squash matches where the favorites won. So who helped and who hrt their chances to get signed by the UFC now that STRIKEFORCE is no longer?
Heavyweight stud Daniel Cormier won his match and former Middleweight champion ‘Jacare’ Souza as expected, and both men had revealed that they already had a UFC contract in place, so they will move on to the UFC.
In the build up to this fight, Saffiedine had stated that he had not been contacted by the UFC, so the win over Marquardt comes at a good time for the Frenchman, who will almost certainly get a UFC contract at this point.
Because the event took place in Oklahoma, it is unlikely that any of the competitors are going to fail post fight drug tests, since the funding at the commission level is not what it is in Nevada or New Jersey. Despite that, two fighters with PED stigma’s in their past probably did not help their cases for the UFC.
The first is Marquardt himself. A solid competitor, he was in STRIKEFORCE because the UFC cut him after a failed drug test a few fights back. He dropped down to welterweight and reeled off a few wins, and the UFC has overlooked PED use with other athletes, but coming off a loss where he did not look good the UFC may pass on him. For sure the money offer will be lower if it comes at all.
The more interesting case is Josh Barnett. Barnett is a former UFC champion, but he has not been with the company since he was cut for PED use. He has failed tests three times, the only MMA athlete to test positive that often, and he has vehemently denied the accusations every time. Additionally, Barnett likes to participate in Pro Wrestling, especially in Japan, and he has stated he wants to explore his options. His relationship with Dana White has a rocky past, and the UFC really doesn’t like it’s athletes to have a lot of options.
Then there is his performance. Against outclassed Austrian Nandor Guelmino, he waited less than 30 seconds to get the takedown and had the fight over in under 2 minutes with a choke. Boring. Will the UFC pay for that? I don’t think so.
Several other fighters on the undercard, notably Randy Couture’s son and Tim Kennedy, will likely get a contract offer from the UFC. For his part Cormier is already talking about facing Frank Mir in April.