The Future of Strikeforce: 10 Emerging Stars to Build Around
When discussions of the Strikeforce roster come about, there is often a pessimistic perspective to the assembled ranks and what that says for the future of the company.
Just about everyone expects Jake Shields to leave.
Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko are no spring chickens, especially when you consider the accumulated effects of more than 30 professional fights for each of them. Heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem has been averse to competing on North American soil, and is dogged by steroid rumors.
But amongst the UFC castoffs, battle-tested journeyman and absolute unknowns are a number of noteworthy fighters who are capable of carrying the company in the coming years.
Light heavyweight champion Muhammed Lawal and the man he beat for the belt, Gegard Mousasi, have already established themselves as legitimate stars on the Strikeforce roster, and both are only going to keep getting better.
Here’s a look at ten other talents to keep an eye on in Strikeforce over the coming year.
The former Sam’s Club employee certainly isn’t an unknown having headlined the company’s first show on CBS opposite a certain Russian icon, but Rogers is still eleven fights into his professional career and won’t turn 30 until next February. He’ll have another opportunity to prove himself this weekend, as he takes on Alistair Overeem for the heavyweight title in the main event of Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery in St. Louis.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
Another somewhat familiar name, “Jacare” is considered one of the very best Brazilian jiu jitsu players in the sport today. With a win over veteran Joey Villasenor this weekend, Souza would become one of the front runners to claim the middleweight championship should Jake Shields vacant the belt via free agency.
EliteXC fans will remember Karl James Noons for his feud with current Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz. After a two-year hiatus from the cage, Noons returned earlier in the year to stop Andre “Dida” Amade, and could quickly climb into contender status in the 155-pound division.
The 28-year-old with the famous last name has an impressive grappling resume and two mixed martial arts wins to his credit. The 2005 ADCC Absolute champion will make his North American debut this weekend against former UFC champion Kevin Randleman. An impressive showing could put this next generation Gracie on the fast track to stardom.
Hardcore fight fans have been wondering when Strikeforce would unleash the Black House team member, and they finally got their wish in March when Galvao earned a split decision win over Luke Stewart. The seven-time Pan-Am Games gold medalist is part of an impressive collection of young talent emerging in the welterweight division and should make his major event debut in the near future.