In a weekly look at newly announced MMA matchups, here are four announced last week, including three for January’s final Strikeforce show.
Josh Barnett vs. Nandor Guelmino, Strikeforce
Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett gets his final fight in Strikeforce as he takes on Strikeforce newcomer Nandor Guelmino in a 265-pound bout that’s slated for the main card of the finale Strikeforce event on Jan. 12.
And trust me, you’re not the only one who has never heard of Guelmino.
The little-known Austrian is a complete unknown to most MMA fans except for the hardcores in Europe, where he’s compiled a solid 11-3 record. But let’s be honest, his level of competition isn’t even close to Barnett’s, who has fought all of the top heavyweights in the world for the last decade.
This fight is a complete mismatch. It’s designed to give Barnett an easy win in his last Strikeforce contract, but it’s hard to say what he’s fighting for other than an easy paycheque as it’s really up in the air as to whether or not he’ll be making his way to the UFC after Strikeforce folds. But with a strong performance against Guelmino — and with a clean drug test — he might force the UFC into giving him another shot in the big time.
What do you think of the Barnett-Guelmino matchup?
Lorenz Larkin vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Strikeforce
After an injury to Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold scratched him from defending his title against Lorenz Larkin, the man who Rockhold beat to win the title, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, steps up on short notice to fight Larkin in what should be an excellent fight between two high-level middleweights.
Both Souza and Larkin, win or lose, will likely be offered contracts in the UFC, but a dominant win by either man would obviously solidify their standing in Zuffa. And with both men coming into the fight on the heels of gigantic wins, look for this to be an excellent scrap and possibly the “Fight of the Night,” if Strikeforce offered such rewards.
Although Larkin is considered the more technical striker of the two (watch his last fight against Robbie Lawler), Souza proved in his lasting outing, a KO win over Derek Brunson, that he’s not just a BJJ fighter. But of course that’s still his cup of tea, and there aren’t many in MMA better at the ground game than Souza is, so look for him to get back to his grappling roots in this one as he looks to take out Larkin and get that rematch he craves badly with Rockhold — only this time, the fight might be in the UFC.
What do you think of the Larkin-Souza matchup?
Roger Gracie vs. Anthony Smith, Strikeforce
In an underrated middleweight bout, Roger Gracie takes on Anthony Smith on the preliminary card of the final Strikeforce event in what should be a very fun fight for as long as it lasts, which likely won’t be the full 15 minutes as both men love to finish fights.
Gracie made his middleweight debut in his last outing and completely steamrolled Keith Jardine. Likewise, Smith is coming off a huge submission win over Lumumba Sayers. Obviously Smith doesn’t have the grappling pedigree that Gracie has but what he does have is toughness, grit, and heart, and he should make this a very competitive bout, although Gracie should be the rightful favourite going in.
Either way, with boy guys fighting for a UFC contract, expect both men to leave it all in the cage as they try to make their case for a spot in the big show.
What do you think of the Gracie-Smith matchup?
Pascal Krauss vs. Mike Stumpf, UFC on FOX 6
Two injury-prone fighters that train near Chicago take on each other when Pascal Krauss meets Mike Stumpf in a UFC on FOX 6 welterweight bout.
The German Krauss, who trains at Roufusport in Milwaukee, has fought only two times since signing with the UFC over two years ago due to a variety of injuries, defeating Mark Scanlon but losing to John Hathaway. Illinois’ Stumpf, meanwhile, hasn’t competed since UFC Fight Night back in September 2012, a loss to T.J. Waldburger his only UFC appearance to date.
It will be interesting to see how much ring rust both fighters have due to their inactivity, but these two were paired up against one another because they are both very solid fighters on the ground and a matchup between the two could lead to an interesting ground battle.
This fight is slated for the preliminary card, and though it could turn out to be a slow fight at first because both men aren’t used to the Octagon, don’t be surprised if this quietly turns out to be a fight which produces the “Submission of the Night.” You heard that here first.
What do you think of the Kraus-Stumpf matchup?
Adam Martin has blogged for theScore.com and is a regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s MMA section. Follow him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.