THE STRIKEFORCE HEAVYWEIGHT FINAL IS SET TO GO DOWN
On the horn:
"Josh is a wrestler. Josh takes people down, and then you're in his world. He submit(ted) the vast majority of the people he's fought. So he's a wrestler," Cormier told USA Today. "Don't get confused in thinking that Josh is a professional wrestler. He's a wrestler and a fighter."
On May 19th, Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett will face off to determine the champion of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. Before his last bout, one could mistake Cormier's (9-0) unbeaten record as that of an above-average fighter early in his career, defeating lesser names to build his reputation. However his first-round knockout of Antonio Silva (16-3) in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix shows that he's one of the top heavyweights in the world. To put that KO in perspective, Silva had previously defeated Fedor Emelianenko before fighting Cormier and is scheduled to face former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez at UFC 146. In the other corner is Josh Barnett (35-5), who most recently choked out Sergei Kharitonov (18-5) and Brett Rogers (11-4) in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Barnett is a veteran with a record that precedes UFC 28, where he knocked out Gan McGee. We can expect to see a top-level wrestling match out of this bout, as both fighters come from a grappling background. Cormier has wrestled in the Olympics on multiple occasions, and Barnett wrestled in high school before practicing MMA. Unfortunately, Barnett was stripped of his UFC heavyweight title in 2002 due to a positive steroid test, and subsequently spent time in Japan performing in New Japan Pro Wrestling. But Cormer isn't going to let Barnett's pro-wrestling history diminish his respect as a fighter.
"Josh is a wrestler. Josh takes people down, and then you're in his world. He submit(ted) the vast majority of the people he's fought. So he's a wrestler. Don't get confused in thinking that Josh is a professional wrestler. He's a wrestler and a fighter." - Cormier told USA Today.
Personally, I'm rooting for Cormier in this one. As a spectator who enjoys watching amateur wrestling, I love to see an Olympian take to the cage, especially one with four knockouts to his name. He's dangerous on the feet and literally world-class on the mat. With so many ways for Cormier to win, Barnett will certainly have a tough time winning the tournament. I also can't wait to see Cormier face the stiff competition that is the UFC's heavyweight division. With ZUFFA owning the rights to Strikeforce fighter contracts, this is practically certain no matter what happens on May 19th, especially considering his last opponent (Antonio Silva) is already scheduled to take on Cain Velasquez.