Rundown of Strikeforce “HWGP Semi-Finals” post-fight news and notes…
— No gate or attendance figures were released last night. There’s probably a reason for that. It didn’t look like there was a big crowd at the US Bank Arena.
— The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix final is set to feature Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier after their impressive wins last night. Well, almost. Cormier busted up his hand on Antonio Silva’s massive head and it’s unclear how extensive the damage is.
“I kind of hurt my hand on the very first right hand when he went down,” said Cormier, who entered the night’s post-fight press conference with his hand bandaged. “When he got up, I was like, ‘How am I going to get through 15 minutes with my hand hurting like it was?’ But I kept going. I kept throwing it.”
If Cormier can’t go in time for the finals which is tentatively scheduled for early 2012, Scott Coker said they would consider finding a replacement.
“If Daniel wasn’t available for an extended period of time, we’d consider another opponent (for Barnett),” he said. “We’ll wait and see how his hand is after X-rays.”
Hopefully his hand heals up in time. A replacement for the replacement fighting in the finals against Barnett is less than ideal.
— Josh Barnett was thrilled to advance to the finals, but he has his sights set on something bigger than the Strikeforce HWGP belt. He wants the Strikeforce heavyweight championship belt Alistair Overeem vacated too.
“All right, Scott,” he said. “I love you, but you’re my man. Why don’t we sweeten the pot? Why don’t we put that title on the line between me and Cormier? Either one of us is a grand champion. Either one of us is the kind of guy who will hold it proud, hold our pants up with it, and people will look at us and say, ‘Those guys are champs. That’s the kind of people we want representing our company; that’s the kind of guy I want to look up to and say, ‘Hey, you want to see a fighter? You want to see a real bad ass? He’s right there. You see the gold around his waist? That’s not a joke; that’s a reality. The people he had to step over to get it? He earned it.’
“I think (with) that tournament belt, (they did) a beautiful job. That’s an amazing belt, but Strikeforce needs a real champ. They need a champ like me and Cormier. One of the two of us has to be it. Because besides us, who is it?”
He has a point…
— Luke Rockhold picked up the biggest win of his career against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and became the Strikeforce middleweight champ in the process. Rockhold credited his camp, AKA, for preparing him to take on an opponent of Jacare’s caliber.
“It was real tough [to defend the takedowns], because his takedowns are real explosive. Once he gets in on you, he just keeps on coming. Luckily, I train with some of the best wrestlers in the world, so my takedown defense is awesome,” said Rockhold, a teammate of Strikeforce heavyweight and former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier. “Even when I get taken down, I bounce up. That was the whole goal tonight. If I did get sat down on my butt, I was getting up. I kept pushing the pace and I got the win.”
“We spar so hard at AKA, I get butterflies. I’ve got to go spar with some of the best guys in the world. I called it today. I said we were going to go 4-0,” said Rockhold. “It feels pretty good to win [the title] in front of my family. Some friends came a long way to support me. I love everybody out there in Santa Cruz, the Bay Area, California and beyond. It feels good to get it done.”
It seems either a rematch with Jacare or a title defense against Tim Kennedy is next for the new champ.
— Speaking of Strikeforce titles, King Mo would like to get his hands on the light heavyweight belt again, but only if it’s wrapped around someone else’s waist. He doesn’t want to fight for a vacant title.
“If Dan has the belt and is in Strikeforce, I’ll fight Dan for the belt,” Lawal said at the evening’s post-event press conference. “If it’s vacant, (Gegard) Mousasi can fight someone for the belt.
“I want to fight someone who has the belt. I don’t want to fight for no vacant title.”
“My choice is Dan for the belt,” Lawal said. “And if I can’t get Dan, ‘Feijao.’ I’m going to knock him out.”
Scott Coker says they’re still in talks with Dan Henderson, but most people still expect him to sign with the UFC.
— Strikeforce’s next big card is scheduled for Dec. 17. No fights are official yet, but so far, it’s expected to feature Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal, Cris Cyborg, Gina Carano, Gegard Mousasi and Keith Jardine.