In the biggest news coming out of Strikeforce since their takeover by Zuffa, the company have lined up UFC star Frank Mir to take on their heavyweight grand-prix champion Daniel Cormier in his final fight for the promotion.
After the fight both Mir and Cormier will return to the UFC and Strikeforce’s heavyweight division will be disbanded.
“There has been a lot of speculation as to who Cormier would fight next, and this is the fight that makes the most sense,” UFC President Dana White told USA Today. “The reality is, Cormier is one of the best heavyweights in the world. He just won the grand prix and beat Josh Barnett. He needs to fight opponents of that caliber, and Frank Mir is that guy.”
So far there’s no date or destination set for the fight, but it’s expected to take place around late October.
Cormier wasn’t even one of the initial competitors lined up for Strikeforce’s GP in the early months of last year, but after Alistair Overeem unexpectedly left the promotion prior to the semi-finals Cormier was drafted in as his replacement and would go on take the tournament by storm.
First the former U.S Olympic wrestling team captain took less than a round to knockout Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, then he comfortably outfought Josh Barnett in the final to earn a well deserved unanimous decision win.
Meanwhile Mir is coming off a second round TKO loss to UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos in his latest title bid. Prior to that he had been in good form, stringing together three victories, most notably a shoulder-snapping Kimura victory over Antonio ‘Rodrigo’ Nogueira that earned him ‘Submission Of The Year’ honors.
Assessing today’s move This would appear to be a smart play from Zuffa that could prove to be a win-win for most of the parties involved.
Obviously it’s a huge boon for Strikeforce to have a major UFC star like Mir temporarily join the promotion, and should lead to a significant ratings boost and a general rise in the level of awareness about their organization.
This could also pave the way for other UFC stars to temporarily move over to Strikeforce for fight with their other major stars like Gilbert Melendez, Nate Marquardt and Luke Rockhold which would be a home run for the promotion, the fans and the fighters themselves.
For Cormier it’s a dream fight, handing him his biggest bout to date against a former UFC heavyweight champion and could be the perfect way to position himself directly into the UFC title picture.
It’s interesting that the UFC would agree to finally break down this barrier and allow a current star like Mir to move across, but while Strikeforce appear to be benefiting more from the arrangement, the UFC are in real need of more legitimate title challengers for their own heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos, and this fight could instantly turn Cormier into a No.1 contender.
Perhaps the person taking the biggest risk here then is Mir as there’s not a whole lot for a fighter of his stature to gain here, while a loss to someone who’s still building his reputation in the sport would be damaging for his career.
Still, after losing out to Dos Santos in his latest UFC title bid the veteran fighter may now be looking for new ways to challenge himself, and this will certainly be a high pressure fight that will garner a lot of attention in the months ahead.
Overall it’s an exciting development and one that breathes much needed new life into the Strikeforce organization.