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Opening Round: Top Heavies

The instant Zuffa announced it would be doing away with Strikeforce’s heavyweight division the future of the individual athletes being affected immediately came into question. Most fans/media understandably assumed it was a matter of when and not if the roster would absorbed into the UFC’s in order to create more depth. After all, Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum had already joined the UFC, so why wouldn’t their former coworkers do the same in light of last week’s developments? Likewise, why wouldn’t the UFC want to fatten their thinnest division with talented, recognizable competitors?

However, it would be foolish to think every single heavyweight from Strikeforce will be gracing the Octagon in 2012. Some are simply “must have” while others are “meh”. Below you’ll find a list of every heavyweight listed on Strikeforce’s website along with some comments on their chances of taking to the infamous eight-sided cage in the next twelve months:

Josh Barnett – Definitely deserving of a spot on the UFC roster but there are personal issues at play between Barnett and Dana White so it’s hard to gauge how things will go even if he wins the Grand Prix. Logic would tell you Barnett is a “no brainer” though, as he’s beaten a ton of top guys and can cut a promo like few others. He may have been caught using steroids in the past but there are guys currently signed to the UFC who have done the same so it’s a moot point.
Devin Cole – Cole will probably get a shot on a UFC undercard since he hasn’t been particularly entertaining as of late but is on a two-fight winning streak and has a good record.
Daniel Cormier – 100% guaranteed to be part of the UFC. It should be very interesting to see how his career unfolds under their banner given his friendship with teammate and fellow heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez. He’s said he’ll drop to light heavyweight if such a scenario occurs but such a move takes time he may not have.
Shane Del Rosario – Has been off the radar for awhile due to poor booking and a serious car accident. Once he’s healed up, as he’s believed to be currently from what I last heard, Del Rosario should absolutely be part of the UFC’s pillaging. He’s young, athletic, undefeated (11-0), and has finished all of his opponents. What’s not to like?
Chad Griggs – Griggs is another fighter who is extremely likely to take his talents to the Octagon. He’s won six in a row with the last three involving names with enough “oomph” to give him a bit of buzz.
Bryan Humes – Dude is a 34-year old with eight professional fights who just lost on last weekend’s card. Back to Shark Fights it is for Mr. Humes.
Gabriel Salinas-Jones – Like Cole I can see the 27-year old getting a crack or two at winning on an undercard before receiving an official pink-slip.
Shawn Jordan – “Terror” Jordan (okay, his nickname is “The Savage” but I like mine better) is the kind of fighter the UFC loves. He’s aggressive and has a ton of heart. With a 12-3 record both will be enough to earn him a semi-short leash in the organization.
Mike Kyle – He’s a light heavyweight and has no business being included in the bunch even if he can come in heavier than 205 and has the guts to do so when called upon.
Sergei Kharitonov – Now that the UFC has ironed out their issues with Golden Glory I think Kharitonov would be a solid addition, even if used sparingly with a focus on booking him for Japan down the road. He’s well-rounded, has a decent record of the past few years, and also brings along a little marketability relating to his success in PRIDE.
Antonio Silva – Almost certainly a lock for a UFC debut in 2012. He has a lot of upside and probably only a short window of peak performance ahead of him based on size/age. Plus, he decimated Fedor Emelianenko, and why wouldn’t White want a guy like that as part of his roster?
Herschel Walker – Another guy who has no business being listed considering he’s only fought twice and no future match-ups have been rumored despite it having been a year since his last bout. I wouldn’t mind Strikeforce having him compete one final time for them next year but the thought of him being considered UFC-level sickens me.
Fabricio Werdum – Probably time to remove this one, eh Strikeforce Webmaster?

And you did not read that wrong. There are only thirteen names listed and a fourth of them have no business being listed as is. You couldn’t ask for a more distinct piece of evidence as to why Zuffa took a note from Michael Schiavello and gave Strikeforce’s heavyweight division “the big kibosh”.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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