What looked to be a blowout final show of the Strikeforce promotion on Jan. 12, is now just a final show with two championship fights having fallen off the card.
In the wake of the original main event, Gilbert Melendez's lightweight title defense with Pat Healy, falling through due to an injury, the new main event of Luke Rockhold defending the middleweight title against Lorenz Larkin is also off the show.
While no official announcement has been made by Showtime or Strikeforce officials, the belief from those close to the promotion is the show, scheduled at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, will still proceed. Nate Marquardt's welterweight title defense against Tarec Saffiedine will move to the main event slot.
Two other key matches still on the lineup are Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier, who was a college wrestling star at Oklahoma State, facing Dion Staring, and a recently added Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle light heavyweight bout.
Showtime had pulled out of televising the two previously scheduled Strikeforce shows, which led to both being canceled. The Sept. 29 date was pulled due to Melendez, scheduled to face Healy, suffering a shoulder injury in training. A Nov. 3 date in Oklahoma City was canceled when Rockhold, as well as Frank Mir, who was to face Cormier, were both injured.
According to sources close to the fighter, Rockhold (10-1) is off the show because the wrist injury that caused the cancellation of his original fight with Larkin (13-0, 1 no contest) hadn't healed well enough for him train on it. In an interview with Rockhold before the fight was announced, he was hoping, but not certain, that he would be ready to fight by late January. The show being held a few weeks earlier put a monkey wrench in that original timetable. MMA Corner first reported the story of Rockhold's absence from show.
Rockhold was scheduled to make his third defense of a title he had won on September 10, 2011, in Cincinnati, taking a five-round decision from Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. He had since retained it with a first round stoppage of Keith Jardine and a five-round decision win over Tim Kennedy.
Larkin was disappointed, tweeting Dana White on Sunday, "Hey Dana, I hurt my right pinky toe, guess I can't fight, wish I started two years before I did so I could have skipped this p***y era."
He sent White a second tweet, saying, "Or can you give me that Black Friday price for the SF belt."
Larkin was stopped in the second round by Rockhold's frequent training partner, "King" Mo Lawal, in a light heavyweight fight in January. However, when Lawal tested positive for the steroid Drostanolone, the result of the fight was changed to a no-contest. Larkin then dropped to middleweight and earned a title shot by defeating Robbie Lawler.
The injury almost certainly means Rockhold will, when healed, go into UFC as the final Strikeforce middleweight champion.