Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine fight card: What's at stake?

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

There's almost nothing at stake for Strikeforce. There's no tomorrow and no implications for its future. Strikeforce is dead. Long live Strikeforce. In the interest of not being too cynical, though, there's a chance to go out on a high note. If you're going to close the show, you might as well do it in style.

I can only imagine the narratives that are going to be written about in the media either way. End on a high note? It was fitting end to a great promotion! End on a low or boring note? Good riddance to a ham-fisted promotion! Neither is particularly fair or fitting even if inevitable.

There just isn't much to say. Anything of consequence that's happened in Strikeforce has likely already happened. One can only hope the night ends just as Strikeforce (the MMA side) began: a success of surprising proportion in bouts that were mostly exciting, fun and as often inconsequential as they were surprisingly relevant.

Star-divide

Nate Marquardt vs. Tarec Saffiedine

At stake: proof of being an elite welterweight. Even with only one fight in the weight class, it's probably safe to say Marquardt is an elite welterweight. His win over Tyron Woodley is about as much evidence as one needs. Still, there's a question of how elite he can be. And since he's guaranteed to mix it up in the UFC's welterweight division, we'll want to know how far he can carry this 170-pound effort. Saffiedine is a good measuring stick in that regard.

For Saffiedine, he lacks a signature win over a top-shelf, respected competitor. Beating Marquardt and earning the soon-to-be-defunct Strikeforce welterweight win would change that reality. Losing would probably confirm his status as a very good if not quite elite welterweight.

Daniel Cormier vs. Dion Staring

At stake: a chance to shine. What is there to really say here? Cormier can play the gentleman all he likes by saying the very accurate odds in this bout are 'disrepectful'. I respect Cormier's humility, but since when were oddsmakers specifically in the business of preserving respect?

In any case, we all have a vague idea about what Cormier's trajectory is. He wants Frank Mir and Jon Jones in 2013 and I hope he gets it. Losing to Staring wouldn't exactly be a great idea, but is as likely to happen as spontaneous combustion. So, a win is devastating is borderline impossible and a win means little. Those are your stakes.

Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle

At stake: not much for Mousasi. When I say 'not much', I mean for Mousasi. This card is filled with bouts where a high-level fighter is being put in a position where they're likely to get a win against an outmatched competitor, but stand little to gain from it. A loss, however, would be quite bad for their careers. That's Strikeforce for you.

For Kyle, he's in a similar position to Saffiedine. He lacks any real signature win over an opponent, save for his quick KO of Rafael Cavalcante. That is: he's never won by sticking it to an opponent who was widely respected in a fight that went for an extended period of time. We know Kyle has big power and is a good athlete, but can he work a thoughtful and tactical game over the course of a semi-prolonged battle? Beating Mousasi in such a way would make answering that question a lot easier.

Ronaldo Souza vs. Ed Herman

At stake: UFC middleweight pecking order. Now this one is interesting. The fight is at a catchweight, so what it all means in the end is up for debate. I believe, however, this match could tell us quite a bit. Herman is a (mostly) known commodity and at this point, does anyone really doubt Jacare would be at least competitive in the UFC middleweight division? I doubt it. How they clash could be informative about the upside of both fighters.

It's where things go from here is why this fight is interesting. Middleweight fight or not, who wins here and how determines some of the pecking order at middleweight in the UFC. And with the way things stack up now, ascending to the top could be a quicker process than normal. I'm not suggesting a title shot is anything even close to happening, but getting bigger fights against bigger competition on bigger stages (and depending on their contracts, bigger paydays) is within reach.

Josh Barnett vs. Nandor Guelmino

At stake: leave a lasting impression. This fight is likely to be such an absurd blowout that it hardly merits any discussion of what's at stake for Nandor. Yes, if he wins, dogs and cats will be living together. Mass hysteria and all that. But that's absurdly unlikely. It'd also be devastating for Barnett's chances to get picked up by the UFC and perhaps even Bellator.

On the other hand, if there was an opportunity to look good on the final fight of a Strikeforce contract, it's difficult to craft circumstances more favorable than this. Barnett is superior to Guelmino in virtually every conceivable metric that measures fighter performance. What Barnett needs to do is not just win, but do so with flair. And given an opportunity to speak on the microphone, he needs to remind everyone why he's adored by fans. Even a win won't guarantee Barnett goes to the UFC, so this is a job interview. He should make this audition count.

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