On Saturday, Jan. 12, Strikeforce held its final event, Strikeforce: ‘Marquardt vs. Saffiedine’ from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla.

In the night’s main event, Strikeforce welterweight champion Nate Marquardt put his belt on the line against Belgian import Tarec Saffiedine.

Also on the main card, Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Daniel Cormier faced promotional newcomer Dion Staring, former middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza battled UFC import Ed Herman, former light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi locked horns with Mike Kyle, and former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett met Nandor Guelmino.

The night’s five-fight main card aired live on Showtime beginning at 10 p.m. ET, four undercard bouts aired live on Showtime Extreme at 8 p.m. ET, while two fights were un-aired.

Saffiedine upsets Marquardt, claims welterweight title

The reign of Nate Marquardt as Strikeforce welterweight champion lasted only one fight as Tarec Saffiedine battered the UFC veteran to take a unanimous decision and capture the belt.

In the opening two rounds, Saffiedine and Marquardt both looked to establish their range, frequently engaging in a clinch battle near the cage. Outside of a counter jab from Saffiedine that briefly stopped Marquardt’s forward momentum, neither fighter scored many significant strikes.

The third round was a turning point. Marquardt landed a takedown and appeared to have Saffiedine hurt with a right hand, but the young Belgian recovered and unleashed a flurry of outside leg kicks that pushed the fight in his favor.

It was more of the same in the final two rounds as Saffiedine repeatedly connected with the quadriceps of Marquardt’s lead leg. The veteran showed a ton of heart, fighting through the pain, but his offensive attacked was stifled due to the onslaught.

When it was over, it was Saffiedine’s hand raised in victory, as the judges rewarded his precise kickboxing.

Cormier outclasses Staring

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Daniel Cormier kept his undefeated record intact with a one-sided beating of promotional newcomer Dion Staring.

Cormier’s wrestling prowess came into play early and often, putting Staring on his back and raining elbows and punches from the top position. Staring took a ton of abuse in the opening frame, but somehow survived the round.

Staring’s luck ran out in the second as he continued to eat shot after shot from Cormier. After Cormier dropped a barrage of hammerfists with Staring covering up in the fetal position, referee John McCarthy intervened and stopped the contest.

With a UFC contract in hand, Cormier called out former UFC champion Frank Mir for the promotion’s April 20 event in San Jose, Calif. But he didn’t stop there, stating that he’ll kick light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ ass after that.

Barnett demolishes Guelmino

Heavyweight Josh Barnett showed why he’s still considered a top 10 fighter with an easy submission win over Nandor Guelmino.

Barnett scored a takedown immediately, but Guelmino briefly returned to the feet after a failed Barnett leg lock attempt. It would prove futile as Barnett again put Guelmino on his back, moved to mount and forced a tapout from his go-to arm-triangle.

“The Warmaster” was unsure about his fighting future in his post-fight interview, as the former UFC champion has clashed with Zuffa in the past.

Mousasi overwhelms Kyle

After a slow, feeling out process on the feet, one-time Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi coerced a tap from Mike Kyle in the opening frame.

The pair traded combos on the feet early before Mousasi looked to take the fight to the mat. Kyle was able to stuff Mousasi’s first attempt, but was unable to keep the fight standing for long. Once the fight hit the ground, Mousasi quickly moved to mount and battered Kyle from the top position. Kyle rolled and gave up his back, allowing “The Dreamcatcher” to lock in the fight-ending rear-naked choke.

“Jacare” submits Herman

Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza put the UFC on notice, submitting veteran Ed Herman with a vicious, first-round kimura.

Herman took the fight on short notice, creating a 194-pound catchweight affair, but the crossover fighter was overmatched from the very beginning. The Brazilian Souza showed an improved offensive takedown attack, putting Herman on his back multiple times. After a big slam, Souza landed in side control and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion forced Herman to tap just past the halfway point of the opening stanza.

Preliminary Card Summary

In an exciting, yet controversial bout, lightweight Ryan Couture picked up a split decision win over veteran KJ Noons. The two engaged in a back-and-forth affair, with Noons scoring frequently on the feet. However, Couture countered with kicks and did enough to convince two of the judges at cageside to hand him the win.

Two-time middleweight title challenger Tim Kennedy needed until the third round to finish off Trevor Smith, but the Army Ranger did so impressively with a deep guillotine choke. The pair traded takedowns and clinch strikes through two rounds, but when Smith left his neck exposed in the third, Kennedy capitalized.

Although it wasn’t the title fight he had earned, lightweight Pat Healy reeled off a sixth straight win with a strong performance against Kurt Holobaugh. Healy was originally slated to face champion Gilbert Melendez but was relegated to the prelims against the debuting fighter. The veteran did not falter, earning a unanimous decision win.

Light heavyweight Roger Gracie showcased his world-class submission game after a slow first round, submitting Anthony Smith by second-round arm-triangle choke after splitting Smith open with an elbow.

In another lightweight clash, the debuting Adriano Martins battered UFC veteran Jorge Gurgel on the feet en route to a unanimous decision victory.

Lightweight Estevan Payan scored the 14th win of his career, stopping Michael Bravo in the second round due to strikes.

FULL RESULTS
Tarec Saffiedine def. Nate Marquardt by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) – New welterweight champion
Daniel Cormier def. Dion Staring by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:02
Josh Barnett def. Nandor Guelmino by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 1, 2:11
Gegard Mousasi def. Mike Kyle by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 4:09
Ronaldo Souza def. Ed Herman by submission (kimura). Round 1, 3:10
Ryan Couture def. KJ Noons by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Tim Kennedy def. Trevor Smith by submission (guillotine choke). Round 3, 1:36
Pat Healy def. Kurt Holobaugh by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Roger Gracie def. Anthony Smith by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 2, 3:16
Adriano Martins def. Jorge Gurgel by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Estevan Payan def. Michael Bravo by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:01

Photo: Tarec Saffiedine (center) celebrates victory (Jerry Chavez/The MMA Corner)