The MMA world has been flipped upside down with the gigantic mega Zuffa purchase of rival organization Strikeforce. Even though Dana White has said Strikeforce will remain "business as usual" history suggests otherwise. Zuffa has been in a constant flux of attempting to corner the market on the top mixed martial artists in the world.
In December of 2006, Zuffa purchased the WEC, World Extreme Cage Fighting, mainly because of the UFC's then exclusive television deal with Spike. Zuffa was allowed to use the WEC to block rival IFL from appearing on Versus. Next, Zuffa also quickly picked up the WFA, World Fighting Alliance, as a means of acquiring the contracts of Rampage Jackson and Lyoto Machida.
On March 27, 2007, while riding surging popularity and ppv buys, Zuffa purchased the Pride Fighting Championships, acquiring a variety of top talent. Pride has never held an event since, as the UFC has enjoyed a revenue stream from DVD sales and a Pride "Best of" show on Spike TV. Zuffa picked up Pride fighters such as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva in the deal.
In October of 2010, the WEC was folded completely into the UFC. Reed Harris, the former president of the WEC, first ran the WEC as a completely different entity. Scott Coker will essentially be doing the same thing for Strikeforce. Dana White has said that we will see certain fighters from the UFC go to Strikeforce.
That was the same as what happened for fighters deciding to lose weight and make a go of it in the WEC. Fighters like Manny Gamburyan and George Roop went down this route. Alex Karalexis stayed at 155 in his journey through the UFC then the WEC.
One big monkey wrench is Fedor Emelienenko and his management group of M-1. Zuffa has always been adament about their opposition of co-promotion. Fedor and M-1 are a package deal, and odds are he finishes his contract, never to be seen in the UFC.
Who are the best fighters in Strikeforce to look out for? Well, everyone already knows the entrants of the World Grand Prix- Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Brett Rogers, Josh Barnett, Sergei Kharitonov, Andrei Arlovski, Bigfoot Silva and Fedor. I'll run down the top 10 Strikeforce fighters below:
Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez (18-2)- the lightweight Strikeforce champ has high energy takedown machine has quick hands and a stifling ground game. Generally ranked the number 2 lightweight in the world, Melendez has wins over Mitsuhiro Ishida, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Shinya Aoki and Clay Guida.
Nick Diaz (26-7)- the welterweight Strikeforce champ has been using his high velocity unorthodox boxing style to overwhelm his opponents. Mix in upper level BJJ blackbelt skills and you have a 10 fight win streak with 6 TKO's and 3 subs. Diaz has wins over Paul Daley, Hayato Sakurai, Frank Shamrock, Marius Zaromskis and Cyborg Santos.
(Diaz winning via gogoplata over Gomi)
Dan Henderson (27-8)- the current light heavyweight Strikeforce champ and former Pride champion has Olympic level wrestling with a power right hand. Looking more energized at 205 pounds, Henderson has KO'd Rafael Cavalcante and Babalu Sobral in his past two fights. Hendo has wins over Mike Bisping, Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin and Rousimar Palhares.
(Henderson putting away Wanderlei Silva)
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (14-2)- The ADCC champion, 5 time BJJ champion, high level BJJ blackbelt and Judo blackbelt will bring high level grappling to the table. Jacare took the Strikeforce middleweight belt with a unanimous decision over Tim Kennedy, and has defended against Robbie Lawler. While also competing in the Dream organization, Jacare has wins over Jason Miller, Zelg Galesic and Joey Villaseñor.
(Jacare doing the gator)
Gegard Mousasi (30-3)- The final 205 pound champ of Dream, Mousasi is a dynamic kickboxer and ground fighter. Mousasi also won the Dream MW GP and is the former 205 pound Strikeforce champ. Mousasi has wins over Denis Kang, Melvin Manhoef, Sokoudjou and Babalu Sobral.
(Mousasi putting away Sobral)
Shinya Aoki (26-5)- The submission wizard had some trouble in his only Strikeforce appearance, losing a decision to Gilbert Melendez. He bounced back with wins over Tatsuya Kawajiri and Marcus Aurelio in Dream, before losing an odd bout in the NYE show. Aoki will need to work on his takedowns for a career in the US MMA scene.
(Aoki via triangle/armbar)
Tatsuya Kawajiri (27-6)- The dynamic Japanese kickboxer finds his home in Strikeforce with the collapse of the Dream promotion. Going 4-0 in 2009 with wins over JZ Calvancante and Kazunori Yokota, he rebounded from his loss to Aoki with a dominant performance getting a win against Josh Thomson on NYE.
(Kawajiri celebrating Dream victory)
Rafael Cavalcante (10-3)- The big puncher has 9 TKO wins on his resume and is the former champ at 205 pounds. Presenting problems to anyone, Feijao briefly dazed Dan Henderson before losing the bout in the second round. He has wins over King Mo Lawal, Antwain Britt, Travis Galbraith and Miodrag Petkovic.
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (7-1)- King Mo, a former Strikeforce 205 pound champ, seemed poised for greatness with his non-stop athletic wrestling style and accuracy with his striking. However, he has also suffered a serious knee injury, and dropped his latest bout, a third round TKO loss to Rafael Cavalcante. King Mo, who has also fought for Sengoku, has wins over Mark Kerr, Mike Whitehead, Gegard Mousasi and Travis Wiuff.
Tyron "T-Wood" Woodley (8-0)- A former Missouri wrestler, Tyron is one of the most coveted prospects in the Strikeforce line-up. With power takedowns as a forte, his striking has improved with every bout. Woodley has career wins over Tarec Saffiedine, Andre Galvao and Nathan Coy.