After Daniel Cormier defeated Josh Barnett in the finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix back in May, the focus immediately became fixated on who the former Olympian would fight next.

It took two long months—and one red herring in the form of UFC veteran Tim Sylvia—to get an answer, but the MMA world ended up getting far more than it dared to hope for when former UFC champion Frank Mir was announced as Cormier’s next challenge.

While Cormier’s wins over Barnett and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva did plenty to help his resume, he still lacks a win over a huge name that would propel him into UFC title contention.

Mir could be that name.

As ridiculous as it sounds after seeing his dominant performances in the Grand Prix, Cormier needs to prove he can hang with UFC-level competition before he walks in and grabs himself a shot at a UFC belt. Former champions like Jake Shields and Nick Diaz have earned mixed results inside the Octagon, and other than Dan Henderson, no one from the San Jose-based promotion has been truly impressive since joining the UFC roster.

That is, if you don’t include the heavyweight division.

Cormier’s former running buddies Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum have been making a lot of noise in the UFC since crossing over late last year, and with the success of his Strikeforce counterparts, Cormier could be in line for a huge push if he defeats Mir.

Cormier (L) battles Barnett in the Strikeforce HW Grand Prix Finals (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

This is the exact type of fight Strikeforce and Showtime need in order for casual fans to take them seriously again, and fans should applaud them for putting it together, but fans also need to realize just how lucky they are. Just days before the Cormier-Mir bombshell was dropped, the media was reporting a different opponent for the Strikeforce GP champion.

The fight in question had a lot of fans speechless. Daniel Cormier, one of the brightest up-and-coming fighters in the sport and a possible challenger to both Junior dos Santos and Jon Jones’ UFC titles, was fighting Tim Sylvia?

The Cormier-Sylvia fight was met with some immediate backlash, and I even took to my Twitter account to ask whether it was the biggest mismatch in the history of a Strikeforce promotion that seems to thrive on them.  In short, the fans that were looking forward to Cormier fighting Sylvia were the ones with violent thoughts in their heads.

Thankfully, Dana White came out and debunked the rumor shortly after it surfaced and we were left to wonder, until Mir was announced as Cormier’s eventual opponent. By throwing Cormier into the fire against such a tough opponent in Mir, the UFC is giving the former Olympic wrestler the chance to prove he deserves to fight the best in the division.

The Cormier-Mir fight will effectively end the Strikeforce heavyweight division, as both fighters will head to the UFC roster as soon as the fight is over, and where these two land in the heavyweight title picture will rest solely on this bout. The winner will definitely be in the mix for a UFC title shot, while the loser will end up far away from title contention, especially if it’s Mir.

Over the years, the Strikeforce heavyweight division has given us plenty of highlights. From the fall of Fedor Emelianenko to the crowning of Cormier as the Grand Prix champ, Strikeforce’s big men have delivered more often than not.

Oddly enough, it appears the final heavyweight fight in the promotion’s history won’t really matter as far as Strikeforce is concerned. Sure, it might be able to give Showtime a ratings boost and get people talking about Strikeforce again, but ultimately it will do almost nothing for the organization in the future.

As glum as things have been for Strikeforce lately, it’s probably fitting that the blow-off fight for the promotion’s finest division will mean more to the UFC than it does for Strikeforce.

Photo: Frank Mir (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.