STRIKEFORCE was founded by Scott Coker in 1985 as a kickboxing promotion. In 2006 STRIKEFORCE transitioned into an MMA company with the featured bout between Frank Shamrock versus Cesar Gracie in the main event. Since that event they have produced 63 events since; 43 major cards and 20 challengers series. Crowning 25 champions or 26 if you count the World Heavyweight Grand Prix title during the last six years. One Heavyweight champion in Alistair Overeem. Six Light Heavyweight champions in Bobby Southworth, Renato Sobral, Gegard Mousasi, Monhammed Lawal, Rafael Cavalcante, and Dan Henderson. Five Middleweight champions in Frank Shamrock, Cung Le, Jake Shields, Ronaldo Souza, and Luke Rockhold. Two Welterweight champions in Nick Diaz and Nate Marquardt. Three Lightweight champions in Clay Guida, Josh Thompson, and Gilbert Melendez twice. One Women’s Featherweight champion in Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, and four Women’s Bantamweight champions in Sarah Kaufman, Marloes Coenen, Miesha Tate, and Ronda Rousey. Josh Thompson is the only holder of both defunct U.S. Welterweight and U.S. Lightweight championships, and Daniel Cormier is the only STRIKEFORCE World Heavyweight Grand Prix champion. STRIKEFORCE held three MMA tournaments including the Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2011 through to 2012, the one night four fighters Women’s Bantamweight tournament in 2010, and the “Four Men Enter, One Man Survives” Middleweight tournament in 2007. STRIKEFORCE was a pioneer in MMA history for giving Women the opportunity to fight on the grand stage. With co-promotion with M-1 Global, the talent sharing deals with DREAM and the signing of MMA stars such as Fedor Emelianenko, Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, Gegard Mousasi and others, STRIKEFORCE was the number two promotion in the world to fight. In March of 2011 the promotion was bought out by the parent company of the UFC, Zuffa LLC, and continued to run as an independent organization, but with many of STRIKEFORCE’s top stars and champions jumping ship and divisions dissolving it was evident that the company would eventually fold. Forced to cancel two cards during that final quarter of 2012, UFC officials officially announced that the January 12th, 2013 card was indeed the final event for the promotion.
The 63rd and final STRIKEFORCE event took place at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Saturday night. The main event featured the crowning of the last and final STRIKEFORCE Welterweight champion as Tarec Saffiedine defeated then champion Nate Marquardt in a five round affair. The bout had a slow start, but Saffiedine landed a counter jab that buckled Marquardt’s knees, but he remained up fazed. Saffiedine picked Marquardt’s right leg apart throughout every round rendering a dark red from bruising. A lot of clinching and exchanging from both, but after three round Marquardt looked visibly winded, but carried on for the remaining two rounds, however, Saffiedine clearly controlled the pace. In the end Saffiedine would win a unanimous decision(48-47, 49-46, 49-46 to be capture the welterweight title.
STRIKEFORCE World Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Daniel Cormier continued his undefeated streak on his path to the UFC with a second round TKO win over Dion Staring. A heavy favorite Cormier wasn’t looking past his final STRIKEFORCE opponent who came in swinging early. Initially Cormier struggled for the takedown but it wasn’t long before the fight was on the ground and he was raining down heavy shots. Surprising to many Staring made through the first frame, but the end would come in the near the end of the second round with ground and pound strikes from Cormier in full mount forced referee “Big” John McCarthy to call a stop to the action. In his post fight interview Cormier revealed that his UFC debut will be on April 20th at UFC on FOX 7 where he will be taking on Frank Mir, and the said he wants Jon Jones to beat Chael Sonnen so he can: “Kick his ass in the fall.”
Josh Barnett had two fights as he was battling the flu and Nandor Guelmino. Guelmino was no match for Barnett as he took him down with ease right into a full mount and slapped on his signature arm-triangle choke to force the tap just over two minutes into the very first round. Barnett cut an awesome pro wrestling style promo at the end of the bout which was very entertaining.
After a 13-month lay off Gegard Mousasi returned to the STRIKEFORCE cage as a man possessed. Mousasi would pikced up his 33rd career victory by destroying Mike Kyle with a first round rear-naked choke submission. Mousasi took Kyle down and would proceed to transition from guard to, half guard, to mount with a flurry a devastating elbows. From that position Mousasi rained down punches, forcing Kyle to give up his back where Mousasi would cinch in the choke.
Ronaldo “Jacare”Souza made short work of UFC Middleweight import Ed Herman with a beautiful kimura submission in the first round. The dangerous submissions expert had Herman on the ground early but an illegal up kick baffling brought the fight back standing. Souza takes Herman down and is in side control where he quickly slaps on the kimura forcing the tap.
In the most baffling decision of the night Ryan Couture picked up a split decision victory over K.J. Noons in a fight that one judge was clearly not watching. Couture and Noons measured each other up in the first round, but it wasn’t until the end of the round when Couture landed a spin kick, then tripped and was illegally kneed by Noons which was called. Noons the picked apart Couture in the second round, but failed to finish him of. The third round saw Noons counter strike a wobbly, yet aggressive Couture. In the end two judges saw the bout 29-28 for Couture and the other 30-27 for Noons. Noons was visibly upset post fight as he was robbed of a victory.
Also on the card war hero Tim Kennedy submitted Trevor Smith with a guillotine choke in the third round. Pat Healy earned his 29th career victory and sixth in a row by defeating a very game Kurt Holobaugh via unanimous decision after three rounds. Roger Gracie defeated Anthony Smith in the second round Gracie-Style with an arm-triangle choke submission. (Full STRIKEFORCE: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine event results below.)
Tarec Saffiedine def. Nate Marquardt via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) – for final Strikeforce welterweight title
Daniel Cormier def. Dion Staring via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:02
Josh Barnett def. Nandor Guelmino via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 1, 2:11
Gegard Mousasi def. Mike Kyle via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:09
Ronaldo Souza def. Ed Herman via submission (kimura) – Round 1, 3:10
Showtime Extreme prelims:
Ryan Couture def. K.J. Noons via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Tim Kennedy def. Trevor Smith via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 1:36
Pat Healy def. Kurt Holobaugh via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Roger Gracie def. Anthony Smith via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:16
Adriano Martins def. Jorge Gurgel via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Estevan Payan def. Michael Bravo via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:01