As Strikeforce prepares for the clash between Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier and former UFC champion Frank Mir in what fans hope to be the first of many Strikeforce-UFC crossover fights, Josh Barnett, the only other heavyweight on Strikeforce’s roster, has one fight left on his Strikeforce contract.
Although UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta stated that the crossover match between Cormier and Mir is a one-time deal, Barnett should at least get a chance to perform one last time in the Strikeforce cage and with no other heavyweights under the Strikeforce banner other than him and Cormier, a bout with someone from the UFC would great for fans.
Barnett is currently recovering from a broken hand he received in his fight with Cormier in the finals of the grand prix and may not see action until the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013. As he recovering, the powers at Zuffa could change their mind and make a crossover fight just for Barnett. Here would be my top three choices:
Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira – Nogueia and Barnett have fought each other twice back in Pride. The first match was at Pride Absolute Final Conflict. After a hard fought battle on the canvas, Barnett earned a split decision over Nogueira to advance in the finals of the Pride 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix where he lost to the winner Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Barnett and Nogueira would meet again at Pride: Shockwave 2006. They would once again go the distance, but it would be Nogueria who would earn the victory by decision.
Nogueira is recovering from an arm injury, which he received in his rematch with Mir back at UFC 140, which would give him enough time to recover for Barnett. A third fight between Nogueira and Barnett would not only be great for the fans who yearn for the days of Pride, but it would also be a great match on the ground as both fighters have an extensive submission game, with a combined 37 submission wins between the both of them. Barnett has also expressed his desire to fight Nogueira and complete the trilogy.
Gabriel Gonzaga – A former UFC heavyweight title contender, Gonzaga is on the verge of a comeback in the UFC, riding a two-fight winning streak. Gonzaga may not be very high on the heavyweight rankings, he has accomplished one task that Barnett was never able to do: defeat Cro Cop. Barnett lost to CroCop on three separate occasions while Gonzaga scored a highlight reel head kick knock out over Filipovic back in 2007.
Gonzaga is also very skilled in Brazilian jiujitsu, which could match Barnett’s wrestling.
Mark Hunt – Similar to Noguiera, Hunt and Barnett have faced each other before. Prior to facing Minotauro, Barnett defeated Hunt in the quarterfinals of the open weight grand prix with a kimura. Since stepping into the UFC and training with American Top Team, Hunt has been on a roll, winning three of his four last fights and gaining the admiration of fans who rallied for him to get a title shot against Junior Dos Santos after Alistair Overeem failed pre-fight drug test prior to UFC 146.
A second fight with Barnett would give Hunt a chance to exact some revenge for the loss in the Pride tournament. It would also give a chance for Hunt to test his improved skills against Barnett.
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