Tobin Dorn for Sherdog.com
Tournaments have a drama all their own, particularly with so many moving parts, and while the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix at times seemed to falling off at the wheels, the finale looks pretty intriguing when one considers the promotional potholes it has hit.
At the beginning of the eight-man tournament, Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum were present, only to exit for assorted reasons. Emelianenko was upset by Antonio Silva; and Werdum put up a dreadful performance in losing to Overeem, who promptly withdrew afterward, abandoning the tournament altogether.
The Josh Barnett-Daniel Cormier final is as solid a fight as we could have asked for given the twists and turns the grand prix has endured. It is an excellent stylistic matchup that presents challenges for both men. While Cormier’s sharp striking and Olympic-caliber wrestling have catapulted him to the verge of stardom, Barnett is a tough veteran who is not going to fold when hit hard. Cormier also gives Barnett the prospect of a long riddle he will have to solve, as opposed to the former UFC champion’s two previous opponents in the tournament -- Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov, both of whom were taken down, mounted and softened up prior to being submitted. Barnett’s top game is integral to his success as a fighter, but against a phenomenal grappler like Cormier, it is going to be difficult to get there.
However, Barnett has the advantage of years of hard fighting and taxing battles, something Cormier has yet to experience. That is the recipe for a great final. Given the blows this competition has taken promotionally and otherwise, it is the kind of bout any fan would really want to see. That is something I was not sure I would be able to say considering all the assorted drama that has surrounded this thing.
Jason Probst can be reached at [email protected] or twitter.com/jasonprobst.