Friday, January 13, 2012

Strikeforce thoughts and the state of the Women's division

So the first card of the year is in the books and my picks went 3-1. Evidently, Keith Jardine is so far past the point where he should retire that he can't even compete with mid-grade middleweights.

Jardine showed no signs that he can compete at a high level during the four minutes of the first round, as middleweight champion Luke Rockhold prevented him from mounting any sustained offense.

Afterward, Rockhold called out the UFC's middleweights asking for a better challenge. All I can say is: Be careful what you wish for. Rockhold could be considered a top-10 middleweight, but it would be at No. 10 at best. Rockhold needs to do a lot more to prove himself in my view.

Looking at the rest of the main card, King Mo established himself as the main guy in the 205-lb. weight class. After dominating Lorenz Larkin - knocking him out in Round 2 - he will most likely go in as the favorite in his fight with Gegard Mousasi for the light heavyweight title.

Robbie Lawler may have made himself one of the main contenders for Rockhold's belt by hitting a flying knee on Adlan Amigov to win by first-round knockout. Lawler ended a two-fight losing streak, which wouldn't normally warrant a title shot, but this is Strikeforce, and honestly the pool of contenders isn't that deep.

I expect Lawler to win one more fight and then get a title shot.

Lastly, Tarec Saffiedine won by decision against Tyler Stinson, and Tyron "The Black Jon Fitch" Woodley proceeded to lay-and-pray his way to the most boring decision in months against Jordan Mein.

I will be previewing UFC: 142 either tonight or tomorrow, so be ready for that, but for now, here are my thoughts on Strikeforce's women's MMA divisions.

As I brought up last week, Cris "Cyborg" Santos was caught for steroid use and her title is now vacated. While Scott Coker wants to keep the women's 145-lb. division, Dana White has said the division is effectively dead now.

Let me throw my two cents in: Get rid of the divsion. Let's be honest here, the person who was a near-unanimous No. 2 in the weight class lasted less than 20 seconds against Cyborg and wasn't all that serious about MMA to begin with. (Heck, she did MMA to be in shape for her S&M videos.)

Right now, the 135-lb. class is by far more entertaining and deeper right now, and the focus should be on getting that weight class to be a premier division. Weight classes 145 and up only go about one or two people deep before the skill level drops to nothing. They're very much like the super heavyweight division on the men's side: It's fine to promote a good fight as a special event, but they're so few and far between that a belt is just a waste.

Let's be frank here: Cyborg defended her belt once in about 13 months not because she was injured but because there were so few decent challengers, and now one of the few challengers there - Ronda Rousey - is dropping to 135 to challenge for the belt.

While we're on that subject, I understand that Rousey challenging Tate is good for business, but Sarah Kaufman earned the title shot and Strikeforce should have given Rousey a debut fight at that weight class before giving her a title shot.

Olympic credentials aside, no competitor drops a weight class and is immediately given a title shot. (Unless you're Jardine, in which case you see how bad an idea that is.) All I can say is, Rousey has less than five minutes of MMA experience in seven fights. She will get far more in this fight. Let's hope she can handle it.

Ultimately, while Dana White claims women's MMA lacks depth, he sees that the 135 and 125-lb. classes are about ready to become full-fledged classes. It's why Bellator is adding the 125-lb. class.

UFC will eventually absorb Strikeforce, and as long as Coker doesn't botch this, I fully expect the Women's 135-lb. class to be on the 'A'-show soon enough.

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