Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament

By Julie Romine

Why do I love Strikeforce? Because Strikeforce’s fight cards are usually top notch, filled with great fighters matched in perfect fights — for both male and female fighters! The matchups are really well thought out, and the superior and unbiased voices of Mauro Ranallo, Pat Miletich, and Frank Shamrock comprise the best commentary team in the sport, knowledgeable in all facets of MMA. This Saturday night’s card is no exception. When you have top heavyweights that are also world class wrestlers, like Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier, you simply must turn it on and watch. The same goes for Strikeforce’s lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez, and Strikeforce stars Josh Thomson, Ralphael “Feijao” Calvacante, and Mike Kyle. Another bonus, since Strikeforce is aired on Showtime (which I subscribe to), it is free with no commercials. Can’t beat that!

Saturday, May 19th at 10pm ET on Showtime, you can experience Strikeforce’s World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament Final. The tournament final will feature Josh Barnett (31-5-0) vs. Daniel Cormier (9-0-0). Both fighters have wrestling as the primary weapon in his arsenal. Barnett, however, is a well-seasoned wrestling and MMA veteran, who, in addition to being a former King of Pancrase and Pride superstar in Japan, was also International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World No-Gi black belt gold medalist. Cormier, an Olympic wrestler, now trains at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). AKA houses many formidable MMA fighters such as Cain Velasquez, Mike Kyle, and John Fitch, to name a few. Both men are incredible athletes who strive to entertain in the cage as well.

Strikeforce’s lightweight champion, Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (20-2-0) will once again be fighting Josh “the Punk” Thompson (19-4-0) in the rubber match of their triology. Melendez has been tearing through the Strikeforce lightweights, scoring easy victories in his last 6 fights, but Thompson is itching to fight Melendez for the third time. Both previous fights went to decision, so this fight should be a 25-minute display of fireworks and action! Melendez trains with the “Skrap Pack” in Santa Ana, CA, while Thompson trains with AKA in San Jose. This fight has potential to be fight of the year, so you may want to keep your eyes glued to the TV.

In another main card fight, light heavyweights Rafael “Feijao” Calvacante (11-3-0) and Mike Kyle (19-8-1) will square off. This is their second fight against each other; Kyle handed Feijao his first defeat in June 2009. Feijao trains alongside the Black House Camp with Anderson Silva and Antonio Nogueira, and Kyle trains at American Kickboxing Academy. Feijao prefers to go for knockouts, and Kyle likes to stand and bang as well. Both fighters have fought at heavyweight, but have been concentrating on light heavyweight lately. This fight has potential to go the distance, however at any moment, either could turn the other’s lights out.

The undercard features a lightweight clash, Gesias “JZ” Calvacante (18-4-1,2NC) vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg (12-3-1). JZ is a seasoned fighter, and currently trains down in Boca Raton, Florida with the Blackzillians/Jaco and Vallie-Flagg trains in New Mexico at Jacksons MMA. Additional fights include: Nah-Shon Burrell (8-1-0) vs. Chris Sprang (4-1-0) at welterweight; at light heavyweight, Gian Villante (9-3-0) vs. Derek Mehmen (12-3-0); another light heavyweight contest of Guto Inocente (5-0-0) vs. Virgil Zwicker; welterweights Quinn Mulhern (17-2-0) and Yuri Villefort (6-0-0) squaring off; and a final lightweight matchup of James Terry (11-4-0) vs. Bobby Green (16-5-0).

As for the matchup possibilities after this card, I think the winner of the “Feijao” Calvacante vs. Mike Kyle fight should fight Gegard Mousasi (22-7-0) for the vacant light heavyweight belt, particularly if it is Feijao, since both he and Mousasi are previous titleholders. And if Thomson were to beat Melendez, that would open up options for fighters like Pat Healy (27-16-0) or Jorge Masvidal (22-7-0) to contend for the belt in a great lightweight fight. If Melendez wins, his reign of dominance should continue as he bides his time until an eventual UFC debut.

Join me and thousands of others in watching Strikeforce this Saturday night – at least record it if you can’t watch it live! There are numerous bars around the country that show UFC and Strikeforce events on big screens. The entire crew at Strikeforce is top shelf, and you will not be disappointed. Mauro Ranallo will keep you informed and entertained, and Pat Miletich really knows MMA, being a previous UFC fighter, and an incredible MMA trainer. This combination of brilliant cards and top fighters, airing on Showtime, is the main ingredient for a perfect MMA weekend.

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?