When the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix started many people believed it was a collection of eight of the greatest big men ever assembled into one tournament.
With names like Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum, and Josh Barnett all sitting in the brackets, it had the potential to be one of the best tournaments of all time.
That was until a few upsets happened, including former pound-for-pound king Fedor Emelianenko losing to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, then Alistair Overeem was removed from the tournament altogether, and who could have accounted for Strikeforce actually being purchased by Zuffa and all of the company's heavyweights shifting over to the UFC?
That leaves Josh Barnett and finals opponent Daniel Cormier as the only heavyweights under the Strikeforce banner, and they will end the tournament on May 19 with the Grand Prix title up for grabs.
If there is more of a down side to this story, however, it's the fact that while Barnett and Cormier are both cemented in the top ten of the heavyweight division, fighters they've defeated or fighters that didn't even make it into the tournament are now flourishing in the UFC.
Lavar Johnson has gone 2-0 and just got the opportunity to fight on Fox. He wasn't even included in the original Grand Prix line-up. Bigfoot Silva will face former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in the co-main event of UFC 146, while undefeated prospect Shane Del Rosario gets a main card slot on the same show.
Somehow lost in the shuffle are Barnett and Cormier, who by tournament standards were the top two heavyweights left in Strikeforce, and now the question they are asked most often is when will they end up in the UFC?
“It's really unimportant. I think all the speculation is good for the people that enjoy the sport and they want to watch, and they want to be a part of that guessing game ‘what's next,”‘ Barnett said about the UFC questions when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio.
“You read a comic book and you're always waiting for the next issue, but you're always thinking about what happens if some of the X-Men end up fighting The Avengers, or if Iron Man left the team. That part is unavoidable.”
Has some of the luster of this great heavyweight fight been tarnished because of the perpetual UFC question looming around both Barnett and Cormier?
Well, for Barnett, he admits that the UFC question coming up constantly does get under his skin a little bit, but at the same time even he wants to know the answer.
Barnett is a former UFC heavyweight champion, and would love the chance to go over and face names like Junior dos Santos or Frank Mir.
“For me, it's actually starting to become annoying, but I understand the reason to ask it because who wouldn't want to fight in the UFC?” Barnett questioned.
“I'd love to go over there and beat everybody up and sit on top of that pile too. I believe I'm the best heavyweight out there in the world, so what better way to prove it than to punch everybody else in the face first.”
The first priority, however, before anymore UFC talk can happen, is Barnett needs to go out and put away former Olympian and undefeated heavyweight Daniel Cormier.
If that happens, Barnett could surely ride a big wave of momentum forward if he is headed to the UFC at some point in 2012.
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- Alistair Overeem
- Fedor Emelianenko