Strikeforce has announced an event for May 19th in San Jose, California that is to be headlined by the Daniel Cormier versus Josh Barnett Heavyweight Tournament Final. Cormier’s hand is said to be healing from what has been revealed as multiple breaks, so Strikeforce has booked their Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez for the event, against an opponent yet to be named. That way, if the tussle to end the painfully drawn out Heavyweight Tournament does not go down, they have a main event in Melendez. But who will the opponent be? UFC fighters BJ Penn and Anthony Pettis have been mentioned, to start what could be an active crossover between rosters while the companies form a plan on how to merge. Neither of those opponents are likely to work out, so what are we left with?
First, take a peek at the odds for Cormier-Barnett at http://www.betdsi.com/live-lines/martial-arts/mma-strikeforce. Check back frequently, when the opponent is announced for Melendez, the odds will be up quick!
But, back to Melendez’ opponent. UFC fighter Anthony Pettis is reportedly on the shelf. This materialized because Dana White mentioned Pettis as a first opponent for UFC Champion Benson Henderson, but Pettis opted to have surgery when it was decided Henderson would rematch Frankie Edgar first. So scratch Pettis.
BJ Penn? What is to like about the fight? In Penn’s last outing, he gave a great fight against Nick Diaz, but both men knew each other from training together in the past when Penn visited the Cesar Gracie camp. Penn seemed uncomfortable at times prior to the fight. That same dimension applies to Melendez, who is also with Cesar Gracie. I’m not excited about the fight.
The only option on the Strikeforce roster is Josh Thomson, who is coming off a win over KJ Noons. It would also be the third meetigng between him and Melendez, and they are 1-1 against each other, so there is a clear history and storyline.
When the UFC signed Clay Guida and Gray Maynard, it took two viable candidates to send to Strikeforce to face Melendez out of the mix. Maynard especially would have been an intriguing fight.
The rest of the UFC roster is either signed for a fight or really not up to snuff – no one is clamoring for Joe Lauzon or Melvin Guillard to face Melendez.
At some point around his December bout with Jorge Masvidal, Melendez was promised 5 fights in 2012. Well, with the year 40% over by the next Strikeforce event, Melendez will have one.
My money is on Strikeforce signing Melendez-Thomson 3, and the UFC crossovers will have to wait.