While the odds-makers make Josh Barnett the betting favorite to win the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix Saturday night, Barnett’s peers respectfully disagree.
As a former UFC heavyweight champion and PRIDE Grand Prix finalist, Barnett has seen it all during his 15-year, 31-5, career as a mixed martial artist. He has defeated the likes of Dan Severn, Randy Couture, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mark Hunt and has looked almost unstoppable in the STRIKEFORCE GP thus far, tapping out Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov to reach tomorrow’s final.
However, the main and co-main eventers of next weekend’s UFC 146 event all tip 9-0 Daniel Cormier to make a mockery of the odds and win the Grand Prix after he stormed the field as an alternate, defeating Jeff Monson and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Here are their predictions:
UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos: “They are both great fighters and this is a fight that could end very quickly for each guy. But Cormier is more explosive and has the better chances to end this early. It could be very exciting, but I think Cormier wins.”
Frank Mir: “I think Cormier takes this. I can’t see Barnett getting him to the ground, his wrestling is too strong. And on the feet I think Cormier has the power to end things. But with two top heavyweights, anything can happen. That’s why this division is so exciting – anyone who is world class can beat anyone else with one punch. You can’t say that about the lighter weight classes and that’s why heavyweight fights are so cool to watch.”
Cain Velasquez: “I pick Daniel Cormier. Number one, because I train with him but also because he’s so hungry in this sport, I don’t think he will be denied. He was really raw when he came into our gym the first time a couple of years ago but he picked up everything a lot faster than most. He has dangerous strikes and I can’t see Josh getting him to the ground. Daniel’s wrestling is too good; I think he takes this fight and makes a statement about his future in the division.”
Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva: “I think Cormier will win this fight and be the Grand Prix Champion. I was very surprised by him in our fight. I think he is too strong, too powerful in this fight. He punches very hard and his wrestling is very good. I think he will win inside the distance unless Josh Barnett gets this to the ground quickly.”
Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Final takes place tomorrow night. In addition to the previously mentioned matchup, the four-fight main card will also feature a trilogy fight between champ Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson for the STRIKEFORCE lightweight title, a light heavyweight grudge match between Rafael “Feijão” Cavalcante and Mike Kyle, as well as a welterweight battle between Nah-Shon Burrell and Chris Spang. As always, FightLine.com will provide live coverage of the event.