Saturday night would be the final time we would see fighters don those famous red and blue Strikeforce 8 oz. gloves. Oklahoma City, not San Jose where the company was based and saw most of it's memorable moments, would be the setting for the final show in Strikeforce history.
While the promotion didn't exactly go out with a bang, it was a very stellar card from top to bottom packed with violence. Let's take a look at the final 3 stars edition in Strikeforce history.
1st Star - Tarec Saffiedine
A UFC title shot against friend and training partner Georges St. Pierre seemed to be on the horizon for Nate Marquardt. Nate was a 3 to 1 favorite to take out the Belgian "Sponge" in the final Strikeforce bout of all-time. Unfortunately, for "The Great" one, instead of leaving Oklahoma as the final Welterweight Champion in the promotional history, he'd leave with one of the most brutalized left legs we've ever seen in the sport.
I couldn't tell you if Tarec Saffiedine's game plan was to focus on the left leg of Marquardt or if it just came to him as the fight wore on. Whether or not this was by design, something he saw by studying tape, or completely off the cuff - it's just not important. What is important is that if you somehow find yourself standing opposite this guy you're now going to have to account for his lethal leg kick game, along with the laundry list of other problems you already had to worry about. Saffiedine mixed it up from all angles putting his name in the conversation with the likes of Edson Barboza and Jose Aldo by showing us one of the best leg kick clinics of all-time. Marquardt's 25 minutes of pain would turn out to be the monumental gain Tarec Saffiedine's career needed.
It was a great story seeing Tarec come up from the Challengers cards where he went 2-1 to earning big wins over Scott Smith and Roger Bowling on two of the bigger shows in Strikeforce history. Who would've predicted that this would be the man to close out the company as it's final true champion. After a five round butchering of a big name like Marquardt, I'd love to see Saffiedine draw a top 20 opponent in his inevitable UFC debut. How about the red hot Mike Kyle or Mike Pierce?
2nd Star - Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier was originally scheduled to take on Frank Mir on the once stacked 'Strikeforce: Champions' card that also featured the Marquardt vs. Saffiedine bout along with title defenses from Luke Rockhold and Gilbert Melendez. When Mir would be pulled due to injury, and Rockhold and Melendez would fall off the card to what may have just been a couple of good business decisions, a fight between Cormier and Netherlands "Soldier" Dion Staring would be made.
Daniel Cormier did not have to take this fight. He could've joined the rest of the champions over in the UFC, where he had already inked a big time contract. He could've started to prepare for big paydays and big name opponents like Mir and Jon Jones. Instead he would show up just about an hour away from his alma mater and do work against a veteran like Staring who's finished 22 career fights and could put down anyone on any given Saturday night if you take him lightly. Daniel Cormier wouldn't be one of those guys.
In front of his friends and family inside of the Chesapeake Energy Arnea, DC put together a steady diet of world class wrestling and superior striking to punish and eventually finish the very game Staring. Cormier would outstrike Staring 53-8 and pitch a 4-0 shutout in the take down category en route to another dominating victory. What's next for Cormier. Well after finishing Staring, Cormier would call out Frank Mir for a bout, that if scheduled, would likely serve as the co-main event on the UFC on FOX 7 in San Jose this coming April. After that, he told the world that he'll 'kick Jon Jones' ass.' If anyone has the tools to take out the seemingly impossible 'Bones', it may very well be this man.
3rd Star - Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza
"Jacare" may not be getting as much press or attention as Daniel Cormier when folks talk about which member of this final Strikeforce card could make the biggest mark in the UFC. On Saturday night, Souza would get a head start by beating current UFC fighter Ed Herman in dominating fashion. A couple of easy takedowns and one kimura later and we now have what may very well be the most dangerous man at 185 next to Anderson Silva. Watch out for the famous gator crawl of "Jacare" inside of an Octagon near you soon where he should draw a top 10 opponent like Mark Munoz or Chris Weidman, both of whom are currently sidelined but should be back this summer.