On Saturday night fans were treated to an electrified helping of MMA thanks to Strikeforce’s “Diaz vs. Daley”, and with Zuffa’s purchase of the California-based promotion and the inevitable changes the merger would bring fresh on everyone’s minds, the million-dollar question – addressed on air by honcho Scott Coker himself – was “When are we going to see a ‘Strikeforce vs. UFC’ card?” To hear Coker tell it, there are no real barriers to such an event and it’s a moral imperative that such a conflagration transpire. Well, Mr. Coker, I agree. For the sake of the fans, who need to see the best take on the best, a Strikeforce vs. UFC offering must happen. And here are just some of the more intriguing of the cross-promotional match-ups available:
Nick Diaz vs. Georges St. Pierre – Diaz’s departure from the UFC for the perceived greener pastures of Pride FC precipitated St. Pierre’s rise to UFC glory, but since then the Stockton mal hombre’s ascent to elite-striker status and Strikeforce champ makes this pairing a vital one. Who is the better welterweight: the American with the jiu-jitsu black belt and unrelenting fists or the Canadian with flawless takedowns and unmatched athletic ability? Who cares! This one would be a true test for both, and the ultimate in face-pounding grit.
Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn – Penn, at one point, was heralded as a Hawaiian deity who walked among mortals wielding knockout power and deadly grappling. Perhaps time (and a few losses) has diminished some of that luster, but he’s still a legend. So why not give the legend an opponent that won’t press him against the cage and whisper sweet-nothings into his ear? Hey, if Diaz is going to say anything to Penn during a fight, it sure won’t be sweet-nothings.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard – After soundly defeating Josh Thomson to earn his belt and then crushing Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri, Melendez has to be considered one of the best at 155. But how “best” is he? The only way to tell for sure is to match him up against the winner of Edgar vs. Maynard III. Once the dust settles from that sure-to-be epic dustup, all questions will be answered.
Alistair Overeem vs. Cain Velasquez – The years have been kind to Overeem, as he has transformed himself from a light-heavyweight competitor into a heavyweight monster, and along the way has won titles in Strikeforce and K-1. How would he fare against the UFC’s champ, though? That’s hard to say, but one thing is certain: no way would Velasquez want to let the Dutchman hit him.
Dan Henderson vs. Jon Jones – Henderson’s collection of championship belts may shine brightly upon his mantelpiece, but the sad truth is there’s always some young upstart with an ungodly amount of talent and ability waiting in the wings to smash you. In this instance, the young upstart is Jones, who utterly dismantled the veteran Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to lay claim to the UFC light-heavyweight crown. Is Henderson capable of handling what Jones brings into the cage? There’s only one way to find out!
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Chael Sonnen – Jacare has forgotten more about submissions than Sonnen will ever know. So why not let the Brazilian take the American to school for some learnin’?
Robbie Lawler vs. Chris Leben – The heavy-handed Lawler and his UFC counterpart Leben weren’t so much born as they punched their way out of the womb (or so the story goes), so pairing these two sluggers together only makes sense. Of course, the possibility exists that they’d stop reading from the script and attempt to grapple each other, but that has about as much a chance of occurring as Brock Lesnar laying an egg that hatches into a pterodactyl.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Randy Couture – At one time, this was the only bout in the world that mattered, and one of the match-ups most out of reach. But now… now the possibility exists that the “Last Emperor” and the “Natural” could meet and fight it out once and for all. Though both men are hemorrhaging relevancy by the minute, there’s still value in seeing Fedor and Couture together. I say let’s do it!