The List: Gauging the UFC impact of absorbed Strikeforce fighters

The List: Gauging the UFC impact of absorbed Strikeforce fighters


Last night’s edition of “UFC Tonight” featured an announcement of 20 fighters to be absorbed by the UFC from Strikeforce. Fighters such as Daniel Cormier and Gilbert Melendez were obvious shoo-ins, as they already have UFC bouts lined up for April. Some of the lesser-known fighters may have been unsure of their Zuffa status, but the list reads as follows:


Daniel Cormier                                                                   

Light Heavyweight:

Gegard Mousasi

Gian Villante 


Champion Luke Rockhold

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

Roger Gracie

Tim Kennedy

Lorenz Larkin


Champion Tarec Saffiedine

Nathan Marquardt

Roger Bowling

Jason High

Bobby Voelker                                                                                                    


Champion Gilbert Melendez                                                                                                                                     

Josh Thomson

Pat Healy

Ryan Couture

Kurt Holobaugh

Adriano Martins

K.J. Noons

So with the list being announced promptly, the former Strikeforce fighters now know where they stand. Now the discussion shifts to the exact impact they will have on their respective UFC divisions.

Obviously the higher weight divisions will see the least fighters come over, but Daniel Cormier is widely viewed as the fighter with the ability to make the most waves in the UFC. His exact readiness for top-level UFC fights will be gauged when he faces Frank Mir on April 20th. Many believe he could be a UFC champion, but he refuses to fight titleholder and teammate Cain Velasquez. A bout with Jon Jones at 205 is hopefully on the horizon.

Gegard Mousasi could do some damage at 205, but it remains to be seen if he is fully healed from past devastating injuries. If healthy, the sky could be the limit for the talented kickboxer. A fight with someone like Glover Teixeira could be a good matchup down the road.

Middleweight has some great talent headed to the Octagon. Luke Rockhold is no doubt a great fighter with some creative standup and a gas tank to last late into the championship rounds. He shocked many by wresting the Strikeforce 185 lb. belt from Jacare, and has recently speculated on a fight with fellow rising prospect Costa Philippou.

Jacare himself has been on a tear since losing his belt, and he could continue that in the UFC. Lorenz Larkin has a good chance to score some knockouts with his impressive Muay Thai, and it will be interesting to see if Roger Gracie can succeed at the highest level while being quite one-dimensional.

Welterweight is interesting too, but also shaky for the Strikeforce defectors. With so many talented wrestlers with KO power in the division already, it will be quite tough for Strikeforce champ Tarec Saffiedine to gain another belt. The leg kicks he used to destroy Nate Marquardt last weekend could be turned into many a takedown against the UFC’s top 170 lb. fighters, or so one would think.

Marquardt has been given another chance in the UFC,  but I think it will be tough goings for him unless he can score some early knockouts. Prospect Roger Bowling has some definite potential but will be in deep waters from the outset.

Lightweight will get a few fighters that could mix up the division a bit, or at the very least provide some new and exciting 155 lb. bouts. Obviously the title bout between Gilbert Melendez and Benson Henderson will be great to watch this spring, and will answer a lot of questions and speculation about who is the true best Lightweight.

Beyond that, I think Josh Thomson could surprise a few folks. He may not be flashy, but he is gritty and never quits. Thomson could be a good gatekeeper for the UFC to gauge how ready some of their young talent is getting.

I think that perhaps K.J. Noons and Ryan Couture should face off in a rematch on an upcoming preliminary card. I thought Noons won that fight, but Couture was awarded the controversial split decision.

Pat Healy will have a chance to prove himself, but if he doesn’t do it quickly, and impressively, he may not last long. Kurt Holobaugh and Adriano Martins will also need to win and win quick to stay afloat in the competitive UFC Lightweight division.

So the announcement has been made and several talented fighters are headed to the UFC. Some will have their appearance felt immediately, while others will most likely debut later on this year. I personally think it was a good move by the UFC to get this over and done with, because now we know who can be speculated upon.

Josh Barnett is left off the list, as his renegade attitude and past troubles with Zuffa most likely leave a UFC return up to chance at this point. I think that outside of Cormier, and to a lesser extent, Rockhold, Jacare, and Melendez, the Strikeforce fighters may find a rocky road ahead of them. What do you think of the list and how it will shake up the UFC?

A huge fan of the sport since 1995, I love writing all aspects of the fight game. As Chief Editor of LowKick MMA, I strive to stay on the cutting edge of all things MMA related.
  • grapplure


    i predict he will destroy mir with his olympic wrestling and drop down to challenge jones

    • David Saucier


  • Evan Holober

    Jorge Masvidal will be a great addition to the UFC LW division as well.

    • IChokePeople

      I would love to see him Vs Erick Silva.

      • HunterB


        Different divisions but would still be a good fight.

        • NuclearSun

          It's not like Masvidal hasn't fought at WW before…

          • IChokePeople

            Yup, and stylistically it would make a great fight. Plus, Silva is not a very big WW. While on the subject of Silva, Saffiedine would make an exciting fight with him as well.

    • Mike Drahota

      Agreed. Masvidal is a fighter with some good potential. Lauzon would be an exciting opponent for him down the road.

    • MalcolmXtra

      I don't see Masvidal on the list.

      • KeithFarrell

        Masvidal, along with Barnett and Feijao, hasn't been confirmed yet

      • Evan Holober

        Keith's right. Was just making the comment, because I don't think another company will offer him enough to lure away.

        Could be wrong though.

  • IChokePeople

    Of the fighters that may have been unexpected, I am really excited to see Josh Thomson in the UFC. I think he is going to beat a lot of top guys there. I am sad to see that Josh Barnett is not on that list. Also, Mike I totally agree about Noons and Couture rematching. There is no way Couture won that fight.

    • Evan Holober

      Have been a fan of Thomson for close to a decade now. Was always a humongous fan. Hope he stays injury free.

  • Brian Cox

    …and Nate Marquardt went…."whew"

  • UnderdogGreatness

    Whatever happened to Josh "Roids" Barnett? Wow – Dictator Dana sure can hold a grudge, can't he?

    • pound4pound

      It's messed up they haven't signed Barnett, he is great addition to the HW.

      • UnderdogGreatness

        Yep, I thought he was going to be one of the first ones to go the UFC, but I guess I was wrong.

        • NuclearSun

          Have you not read the articles about Josh saying it would take the "right" deal to get him to be exclusive to the UFC???

          • UnderdogGreatness

            NuclearSun – Nope.

  • HunterB

    No Hershal Walker?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    • David Saucier

      your really on this Hershal Walker badwagon hunter lol

  • ian

    Barnett needs to go to the UFC.

    • Jack N. Meoff

      Yes, it is really obvious that Barnett should be in the UFC, WTF Dana???, leave the past in the past and get him in the UFC!

  • kungfurule

    Barnett makes 250k per fight that is why his name is not on the list. They are probably trying to get his price down typical UFC negotiating. I don't think josh will budge from his price but instead go to bellator or perhaps ONE FC.

    • KeithFarrell

      pretty much the story, Barnett says he will go to who will pay his price and looks like the UFC is not willing too, unless it's simply just he hasn't been announced yet

  • KeithFarrell

    Forme, there is only two guys on the list who could become UFC champions, unless the others improve a lot; DC and Jacare.

    Thing is both guys are training partners and good friends with their respective divisions champs, puts them both in a tough spot. DC sounds like he is going to change weightclass, I wonder if Jacare could as well?

  • GianGiacommo G

    Glad to see KJ made the list after getting robbed by the judges,I think he should move down to 145,the 155 division is pretty stacked,if he wants to stick around for a while he should move down,cannot say the same for Couture,he has work to do,talk to daddy Ryan!

    • IChokePeople

      Could KJ make 145? He has fought at WW and he doesn't look small at LW.

  • Spyridon

    I find it funny that noone noticed the typo!!!

    "I think that perhaps K.J. Noons and Randy Couture should face off in a rematch on an upcoming preliminary card. "

    • knn03

      yeah, should be "match" instead of "rematch." I pick Randy.

  • Akordas

    My god can't wait. Nate Marquadt vs Damian Maia rematch would be interesting

    • IChokePeople

      Maia by sub. He got KOd in that first fight because he ran in and got caught. He will not make that mistake again. The only guy I see beating Maia at WW is GSP and even he will get subbed if he lets the fight go to the ground.

  • Geezer

    what happens to all the other dudes who were locked into contacts with limited fights over the last 2 years, most likely only a slap in the arse on the way out.

  • Cpt. Paranoid

    No Warmaster??? Too bad, he would easily fit in with the top10 HW in the UFC