This weekend’s UFC on FOX 7 card scheduled for the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California will successfully and definitively close the door on the STRIKEFORCE promotion as Lightweights Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez as well as Heavyweight Daniel Cormier all fight in this UFC for the first time post SF. Many of the old fighters have done well in the UFC, putting on several memorable performances. This weekend, Melendez becomes the first SF fighter to vie for a UFC title as he meets Lightweight titlist Benson Henderson for the belt. Will Melendez be the first of the old STRIKEFORCE roster to win a UFC title?
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Other fighters whose contracts were absorbed by the UFC have already tried and failed in their quest for UFC gold. this is on the mail side of MMA, as Ronda Rousey was basically given UFC gold when she cam over.
Heavyweight Alistair Overeem dispatched Brock Lesnar, but stumbled against Antonio Silva with a title shot on the line. Dan Henderson lost his title shot due to an injury, and then took a loss in his qualifier for the Lightheavyweight belt. Jake Shields as well as Nick Diaz have both gotten shots at the UFC welterweight title, but both took losses against Georges St Pierre.
Melendez is a 2 to 1 underdog for this weekend’s fight with Henderson. Should Henderson fail in his quest for a belt, that will leave several other former SF guys trying to be the first to break through in the UFC and capture gold.
Lightheavyweight Gegard Mousasi has an impressive resume, but was not overwhelming in his UFC debut against late replacement Ilir Latifi. Former SF Welterweight Champion Tarec Saffeidine will get to himself against well regarded Robbie Lawlor, which should end his winning streak. Mousasi might be a year away from a title challenge as Jones’ calendar is booked currently.
Then there is the case of Daniel Cormier. Small for a heavyweight, he has destroyed everyone he has faced at that weight and is expected to handle Frank Mir to the tune of he is a 4 to 1 favorite at the books. Cormier has talked about dropping down to 205 lbs to face Jon Jones, however he will need 6 months after the Mir fight and he is asking for a tune up fight first, so he will wait.
Basically, if you are counting on the SF roster to win a UFC title fast, Melendez looks like the best chance in the next 6 months.