More than 13,500 fans streamed in to San Jose, Calif.'s HP Pavilion last Saturday to witness Strikeforce's "Carano vs. Cyborg," the first major MMA card to have female fighters in its main event.
With every precluding fight, the energy in the arena grew as fans eagerly awaited the 145-pound title fight between Gina Carano and Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos. But with a strong lineup of fighters and thrilling knockouts, the rest of the Strikeforce card was nothing to scoff at. And the resulting stock reports shows just that.
While Gegard Mousasi's value soared after this weekend, Renato "Babalu" Sobral's headed in the opposite direction. But he's not alone. See who else failed to back their credentials and who saw their market prices rise at Strikeforce.
Gegard MousasiMousasi has spent his entire career fighting outside of North America, leaving most American fans unaware of his tenacity in the cage. But his U.S. debut, against Renato "Babalu" Sobral, may have been the one to put him on the map.
With a brutal and swift first-round knockout of the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, Mousasi turned heads in the mixed martial arts community and now looks toward his first title defense. Unfortunately, Strikeforce will be hard pressed to find anyone in its pool of fighters who can compete with Mousasi. At this point, Strikeforce's best bet would likely be to sign a fighter currently outside of the organization. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira would be a solid acquisition for Strikeforce, and it would be difficult to argue that he's undeserving of a title shot, especially considering the level of talent of Strikeforce's other light heavyweights.
Cris "Cyborg" SantosHeadlining the main card Saturday night, Cris Santos and Gina Carano put on an exciting, yet short, fight. With Santos finishing Carano in the final second of the first round, she gained the Strikeforce 145-pound women's belt, catapulting her to a level no other woman mixed martial artist has reached.
Now, she will look to defend her title against another of the world's best in Marloes Coenen. Coenen is already being considered as "Cyborg's" first test as champion, and a tough one at that. With a 16-3 record, Coenen has been stopped only once and lost by decisions twice. However, 11 of her victories came by submission, and, with the extended rounds of a title fight, her great cardio and submission skills could be the key to defeating the heavy handed Santos. If the fight is made official, Coenen-Santos will certainly be the next big event as Strikeforce continues to pioneer women's mixed martial arts.
Jay HieronHieron was originally set to face Nick Diaz for the Strikeforce welterweight title. However, after Diaz's failure to attend his drug test, Hieron was put in the cage against Jesse Taylor.
After competing on Spike TV's MMA reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, Taylor stayed busy with six fights so far this year. But Hieron proved Taylor may need a little time off. Taylor looked gassed early in their Strikeforce bout as Hieron prevailed to become next in line to face Diaz. While Diaz vs. Hieron may not be ideal for a main event, the fact that it's for a title could make it a headliner for Strikeforce. And the fact that Nick Diaz has gained much notoriety with both his skill and personality.
Gilbert MelendezMelendez looked excellent last Saturday as he avenged a 2007 loss to Mitsuhiro Ishida in the third round of their lightweight bout. With such a great display, Melendez may have catapulted himself into a contest for the title. Melendez once held the Strikeforce 155-pound belt but he lost it to Josh Thomson after a five-round war. But it seems Melendez's hard work will bring him and Thomson together again as the champion looks to defend his title for the second time. Although when this fight will take place is unclear, it will likely occur before the end of the year as a possible main event, or co-main event. Placing this fight on the same card as Diaz-Hieron would be another great move by Strikeforce, and likely make the two bouts co-main events of the evening.
Renato "Babalu" Sobral Sobral proved helpless against Mousasi and was simply out of his league, which is something he has never felt during his time with Strikeforce. Unfortunately, that leaves Sobral in quite the bind, seeing that he is going to have a difficult time finding a light heavyweight fighter from Strikeforce that he has not beat, but is still on his level. The likeliest of scenarios will probably be a bout with Kevin Randleman, who is coming off a disappointing loss to MikeWhitehead. Randleman may be coming off a loss, but he is still considered one of the best in the promotion's 205-pound division. Not only would a Sobral-Randleman bout give each fighter a chance at redemption at this point in their careers, but would also feature two well-known names who could appeal to fans
Gina CaranoCarano was the face of women's mixed martial arts before her fight with Cris Santos. While she remains as one of the most notable female figures in the sport, her devastating loss shows her game needs some refining. Simply put, she wasn't close to hanging with Santos. Now, Carano will look to show why she is so prominent in the sport as she is ready for her next step back to a title bout. Erin Toughill has gained victories in her last four fights and is the likely candidate to face Carano next.
Jesse TaylorTaylor's return to a prominent organization once again left him empty handed. After Jay Hieron proved too much for the former Ultimate Fighter contestant, Taylor once again takes a step back in his career. With his ability to step up and take a fight on such short notice, however, Taylor should remain with Strikeforce. However, his next opponent could put him right back into contention, especially if it's against Joe Riggs, who is looking to make a run for the title. This fight would give Riggs the opportunity to jump to the top of title contention, while a win for Taylor would likely put him one fight out of a fight for the welterweight belt.