On January 7th, Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold defended his title against veteran Keith Jardine with a first round beatdown that maybe could have been stopped earlier. Jardine looked drawn and gaunt at the weigh ins and the word from those at the fight is that he never really recovered his energy level after making 185 lbs for the first time. Nevertheless, Rockhold deserves credit for getting a first round finish, and this win will certainly see his stock go up. The question is who does he fight in Strikeforce? Jardine replaced Tim Kennedy due to an injury, so Kennedy is a possibility, as is a rematch with former champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ but the truth is there is no one in Strikeforce who would be considered a step up for Rockhold, and that is what he needs now.
Most of the guys ranked above Rockhold are very experienced, such as Vitor Belfort, Nate Marquardt and Michael Bisping, but that might be the next natural step for a guy who may be ready for a real test.
As for Keith Jardine, I would like to thank him for a very good career, but I think he needs to realize that the time is now to call it quits. Jardine has fought at heavyweight before, and I would hate to see him end his career fighting the small promotional circuit at a fat 240 lbs. Jardine should not let last year’s draw with Gegard Mousassi fool him into thinking he has something left for the highest level of the sport – he doesn’t. Middleweight is clearly beyond his reach. I’m no expert, but if as rumored, he had 19 lbs to drop in one day, then he just did the weight cut wrong as well. I hope he put some money away, because I don’t want to see anyone wind up like Dan Severn.
Somewhere else on the internet, I read the news that Strikeforce was going to offer one more Heavyweight fight after the Grand Prix final between Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier that is scheduled for March 3rd. The rumor is strong that the lone Strikeforce defense for the heavyweight title before the top names are sucked up by the UFC, will see the winner of Barnett and Cormier take on Fedor Emelianenko.
Emelianenko is going to want one more shot at going out on top, I think. Frankly the easier way to do it, in my opinion, would be to sign with the UFC and take on Cain Velasquez. After all, Cormier and Barnett will both be bigger than him by a substantial amount, and that has been a problem. But either one of these two fights would put Fedor back in the mix among the top heavyweights if he can win it.
Keep in mind that Fedor’s management have in the past co-promoted the event with Strikeforce when Fedor has fought. With Zuffa, that was never going to happen, so it will be interesting to see if Fedor does return to Strikeforce, or if we get another negotiating saga.