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Maggie Hendricks

Three Stars from packed weekend of MMA: Daley, Hendo and Phan

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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After a DVR-needed Saturday night of fights with Strikeforce and "The Ultimate Fighter" finale going head-to-head, who emerged as the biggest stars?

No. 1 star -- Paul Daley: With one hook, Daley announced his presence in Strikeforce's welterweight division. He has had quite a year -- going from a loss to Josh Koscheck, a sucker punch and an unceremonious dismissal from the UFC to being one of the top welterweights at Strikeforce. He's hoping for K.J. Noons next, which sounds like an interesting match-up of two strikers.

No. 2 star -- Dan Henderson
: Who are you calling old? Henderson may be 40, but he still has plenty of gas left in his tank. Hendo rebounded from his loss to Jake Shields with a TKO of Renato "Babalu" Sobral and now will reportedly take on Rafael Cavalcante for the Strikeforce light heavyweight title next.

No. 3 star -- Nam Phan
: No matter what the judges saw, "The Ultimate Fighter" cast member Phan fought an incredible bout against Leonard Garcia in Las Vegas. He had Garcia on the ropes in the second round, and fought well for the rest of the bout. The good news for him is that the UFC is often forgiving of a loss when it came by a questionable decision.

Honorable mention -- Robbie Lawler
: Since he was fighting an Olympic wrestler, Lawler worked on his wrestling before his fight with Matt Lindland. It turns out he didn't need it, as he knocked out Lindland in just 0:50 at Strikeforce

Honorable mention -- Cody McKenzie: Sure, McKenzie may have nothing more than that guillotine, but it's a rather lethal weapon to have. He crushed Aaron Wilkinson with that guillotine at "The Ultimate Fighter" finale. He has plenty more to learn, but he started off his UFC career in style.

Dishonorable mention -- Judges: Since I was at the Strikeforce fights, I heard about the Nam Phan judging controversy before I saw the fights. When I watched the bout, I did it trying to see what the judges saw. Maybe Garcia was more impressive and the people who saw the fight live were swayed by a few impressive flurries from Pham? Nope. There was no excuse for that decision. Phan came close to finishing Garcia in the second, and controlled the bout in the first and third.

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