Josh Barnett has been around the block, fighting for multiple organizations since he was stripped of the UFC heavyweight title in 2002. Now “The Warmaster” is on the verge of capturing the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. In his way stands Daniel Cormier, a two-time Olympian and unbeaten mixed martial arts prospect.
Players in Sherdog.com’s MMA Pick’Em fantasy game are favoring experience in this matchup: 67 percent have chosen Barnett to hand Cormier the first defeat of his brief professional career on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Currently riding an eight-fight winning streak, Barnett bested Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov to reach the tournament final. The Washington native owns victories over the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Hunt, Randy Couture and Dan Severn during his fighting career.
Cormier, meanwhile, began the grand prix as an alternate before entering the main bracket once Alistair Overeem left the promotion. The American Kickboxing Academy product defeated Jeff Monson and knocked out Antonio Silva to set up his meeting with Barnett.
Not many participants are giving Josh Thomson a chance of winning his rubber match with reigning Strikeforce lightweight king Gilbert Melendez, as 97 percent are siding with “El Nino” in the co-headliner. Thomson defeated Melendez via unanimous decision in their first meeting in 2008. The Skrap Pack representative has not lost since, winning six straight bouts and getting his revenge on “The Punk” along the way. Thomson was victorious in his last outing, earning a three-round verdict against K.J. Noons in March.
Other Pick’Em trends for the Strikeforce “Barnett vs. Cormier” main card:
• Mike Kyle scored an upset victory over an out-of-shape Rafael Cavalcante in 2009, but 84 percent of players believe “Feijao” will avenge that defeat here. The Brazilian has won four of his last five fights, including a second-round knockout of Yoel Romero Palacio in September. Kyle won a unanimous decision over Marcos Rogerio de Lima on that same card;
• An overwhelming 94 percent of users think Nah-Shon Burrell will extend his winning streak to seven against Christopher Spang. Burrell is coming off a hard-fought split decision win over James Terry, while Spang hopes to rebound from his first loss of his career against Ricky Legere Jr.