Zuffa’s buyout of Strikeforce raises many questions but the most important has to be who will win should Strikeforce’s champion ever square off against their UFC counterparts. Inside Fights gets inside the biggest set of unification matches in the history of mixed martial arts and explains how these matchups should excite even the most jaded MMA fan!
5. Light Heavyweight: Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua/Jon Jones
Whoever emerges from UFC 128 as champion would make for a fascinating opponent for the evergreen and recently crowned Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson. Should Shogun Rua retain then we finally get one of the great unseen fights of Pride, with Henderson having missed out on the chance of facing Rua at the quarter-final stage of the 2005 Pride Grand Prix after suffering a shock defeat to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Jon Jones on the other hand would pit a young phenonom against a cagey veteran, with Jones’ all round athleticism coming up against Henderson’s brute force and strength. Either way Henderson would get a chance to avenge his losses to Quinton Jackson and Anderson Silva in 2007’s UFC/Pride unification matches.
4. Middleweight: Anderson Silva vs. Jacare Souza
An intriguing match although given Souza’s rudimentary stand up and lack of offensive wrestling probably not the most competitive one. The intrigue comes from the possibilities it opens for the UFC in terms of running the first ever all-Brazilian unification match as the main event of their August return to Brazil for UFC: Rio. Silva’s defense against Belfort at UFC 127 did wonders for his and the UFC’s profile in its spirtual homeland and such a blockbuster clash could only build on that momentum. They are however team mates at Black House which mean that making the match may be extremely difficult.
3. Welterweight: Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz
Could there be a more profound contrast in personalties than between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz? Not only are their personalities polar opposites, but there is a profound difference in the way they approach fighting. Whereas GSP develops risk adverse gameplans that perfectly exploit his opponent’s weaknesses, Diaz seems disinterested in his world class grappling as he slugs it out with heavy handed strikers. Should they meet in the Octagon their fight would not just be a battle between champions, it would be a clash between different fighting ideologies.
2. Lightweight: Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez
At 155Ibs Zuffa has the opportunity to do something unique that would help put whoever emerged as unified champion on the map. In January the UFC had to cancel a planned unification match involving WEC Champion Anthony Pettis when Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard battled to an inconclusive draw. Dana White was left with no choice but to deny Pettis his title shot and throw him into the wider field at 155Ibs. Now with the Strikeforce purchase they have the chance to give Pettis that unification match they promised him by scrapping the fight with Clay Guida and putting him up against Strikeforce’s Gilbert Melendez. The winner would the be able to walk into a match with the winner of Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar with the prestige of being a double champion, so setting up an unique triple championship match.
1. Heavyweight: Watch This Space
Too many unanswered questions to even begin to guess who would occupy both sides of an unification match between the most marketable UFC champion and the representative of Strikeforce’s deepest division. Interestingly this is the only weight class where the lineal championship rests in the Strikeforce half of Zuffa, with Fabricio Werdum the current holder by virtue of beating Fedor Emelianenko. The Heavyweight World Grand Prix will dominant the promotion’s programming for the rest of the year and may help Strikeforce make its debut on pay per view. Already rumors are circulating that Shane Carwin may enter the tournament as a replacement. Should triple crown champion Alistair Overeem make his way through the entire tournament then the pot of gold that would await him and Zuffa at the end would be huge, especially if Brock Lesnar had managed to regain his UFC championship.
Tags: Alistair Overeem, Anthony Pettis, Brock Lesnar, Frankie Edgar, Georges St. Pierre, Gilbert Melendez, Gray Maynard, Jacare Souza, Mixed Martial Arts, Nick Diaz, Strikeforce, strikeforce heavyweight world grand prix, UFC