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MMA Fastball: Strikeforce Rising

Strikeforce Rising: I'm hardly going to be the guy to say that Strikeforce is well on their way to challenging the UFC. In fact, Scott Coker and the gang have made a living out of not taking the UFC on. Still, he's a brilliant businessman that has gradually built his product, step by step, brick by brick, without letting his ego get in the way.

That said, those bricks have certainly begun to make a wall. With the recently inked Showtime and CBS deals, Strikeforce now has the best television stage they've ever had. Don't forget the EliteXC fighter contracts they've just netted, either.

Strikeforce is becoming a legitimate powerhouse in MMA. No, they're not the UFC. But they are the next best thing.

April 11th Strikeforce event: Speaking of Strikeforce, they always do a good job of putting together their fight cards. On April 11th, we already know that Nick Diaz will be taking on Frank Shamrock in a very interesting main event. On top of that, Gilbert Melendez will get his second chance at Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson and the hard-hitting Benji Radach will face off with Scott Smith.

Should be a great night of fights.

Bummed about the Kenny Florian vs. BJ Penn bout being put off: Word is that Florian will not be taking on Penn at UFC 99. Of course, many likely believe that Penn, one of the better MMA fighters ever, is sure to walk through Florian when they do finally tangle. But perhaps they're underestimating Florian. After all, look at what "Ken Flo" did to Joe Stevenson during their recent encounter. Florian is as well-rounded as well-rounded gets. Is he as good as Penn on the ground? No one in the MMA lightweight division, save maybe Shinya Aoki, is. But Florian's diverse stand up skills could give him the advantage standing and his black belt in jiu jitsu might give him enough to survive if the fight hits the ground.

Maybe soon.

Speaking of lightweight fighters, how about Diego Sanchez?: Diego Sanchez at lightweight is a scary proposition, is it not? We're talking about a guy with cardio, strength, wrestling skills, and now striking capabilities dropping down to the 155 pound division.

Watch out!

New fighter alert?Todd Duffee: Heavyweight MMA fighter Todd Duffee will be taking on Mostapha Al Turk at UFC 99. Word is that Duffee is an absolute beast that hits too hard for words. He is 4-0 as a professional, including a TKO victory over Assuerio Silva. His only loss as an amateur came when he broke his hand while attempting a spinning backfist.

Oh yeah, and he's from Hardcore Gym, the place where Forrest Griffin started his MMA career. This guy could be one to watch.

Hasim Rahman wants to fight in MMA quickly: Word is that boxer Hasim Rahman wants to transition to MMA fast. Of course, that's the problem; the transition simply can't be rushed. Against a guy with no ground skills he might do okay. But if he doesn't work hard on his takedown defense and ground game before taking his first fight against a legitimate MMA fighter, this is not going to turn out well for him.

Said another way, Rahman has apparently called out Fedor. That fight would be a crazy mistake for him.

Paulo Thiago makes some noise in his UFC debut: Thiago was a huge underdog coming into his fight against Josh Koscheck. Watching him on his feet early in the fight, there was no reason to think that the oddsmakers had been wrong. But then he connected with one huge punch.

Suddenly, he was looking a whole lot better. Can't start a UFC career off in more impressive fashion than knocking out Josh Koscheck, now can you?

Nate Marquardt is looking great: Sure Anderson Silva stopped Marquardt when they fought back in 2007. But it's hard to miss the fact that Marquardt has looked awesome recently, including his performance against Wilson Gouveia at UFC 95. Marquardt regularly beat Gouveia to the punch on his feet (and that wasn't even supposed to be where he had the advantage) and eventually showed that his cardio, ground game, and strength were all far superior. In the end, only Marquardt and one other guy in the middleweight division has given fans any reason to believe they could challenge "The Spider".

That one other guy is Demian Maia: Maia destroyed a solid Chael Sonnen on the ground via submission at UFC 95. Of course, if you've been watching this Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert, the submission likely came as no surprise. The bottom line is that we know that Maia would have an extreme ground fighting advantage against Anderson Silva. We also know that he would have no chance against him in a stand up fight.

And that kind of contrast makes for an interesting fight, no?

Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: Say what you will. If the sources are correct on this upcoming fight at UFC 101, I will be waiting at my television set. Coming off of losses or not, this fight has been long overdue.