Now that the talent from Strikeforce has moved over to the UFC, people are wondering if these fighters are going to be players in their respective divisions or fall flat on their faces out of the box.

UFC 156 was the first event where a bevy of Strikeforce talent was on display for the world to see. In all, three Strikeforce veterans fresh off the boat, as they would say, competed against three UFC veterans. In those three fights, all three Strikeforce fighters emerged with wins. And of those three wins, two came in the lightweight division.

In addition to welterweight Tyron Woodley absolutely crushing Jay Hieron in 36 seconds via knockout, lightweights Isaac Vallie-Flagg and Bobby Green also notched victories. Vallie-Flagg won a controversial split decision against Yves Edwards. But controversial or not, Vallie-Flagg got in the win column against a respected veteran with knockout power and experience. As for Green, he scored the biggest upset of the night when he banged up and choked out respected grappler Jacob Volkmann. A win like that will get you places.

With that being said, the UFC has shown great confidence in the scheduling of three additional fights at 155 pounds.

First off, as expected, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will get a title shot against Benson Henderson at UFC on Fox 7 in California. While this comes as no surprise, it shows that the UFC has confidence that Melendez is talented enough to present a challenge to the title holder.

Also by doing this, the promotion signals that it is committed in the Melendez’s future. The organization knows that he has the potential to make a significant splash in the UFC. It didn’t have to give him an immediate title shot, as Antony Pettis was in line to snag that spot. However, the promotion knows how capable Melendez is and that sentiment extends to some other newcomers.

Those men would be Josh Thomson and Pat Healy. Both guys were at the top of the food chain in Strikeforce, and they have been matched up with UFC contenders Nate Diaz, a former title challenger, and Jim Miller, a guy who is always lurking around the top 10.

It looks like the UFC is confident enough in Healy and Thomson’s skill sets to the point that it is willing to throw them in the deep end early. Thomson is a guy that has competed with Melendez time and time again in some of Strikeforce’s classic lightweight title bouts, and he will get a shot at Melendez’s teammate, Diaz. Diaz has been a handful for most of the UFC’s lightweights, so for Thomson to get that fight is impressive. It also shows he can be a player in the UFC’s lightweight division.

As for Healy, the grinder was in line for a title shot on a couple of occasions, but was ultimately left with his hands in his pockets in terms of the bout never materializing. Despite that, the UFC, who holds Jim Miller in very high regard, has allowed Healy a fight with one of its top 155ers.

With the wins gained at UFC 156 by Green, Vallie-Flagg and Woodley, it is certain that there is hope for guys like Thomson and Healy in the UFC. Moving forward, we could see Strikeforce guys contend and make a splash in the UFC, especially in the lightweight ranks.

Photo: Isaac Vallie-Flagg (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.