Heavyweight tournament crown on the line Saturday
Either Josh Barnett or Daniel Cormier will become Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament winner on Saturday night. But it seems much of the talk is focused not on the fight, but what will come of the two big men on Sunday.
Barnett and Cormier meet in the main event of Strikeforce’s card in San Jose, Calif., to crown the winner of the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix well over a year after the tourney started. But with many of Strikeforce’s big-name heavyweights in the UFC after the announcement in the fall that the promotion would shutter the division, everyone wants to know if Barnett and Cormier will be next. And if so, how soon.
The winner was expected to get one more Strikeforce fight, perhaps to crown the promotion’s last heavyweight champion, later this year. The loser? Well, off to the UFC. Perhaps. For Barnett, win or lose, he’s had a shaky relationship with the UFC in the past – though bridges seem to be able to be mended there.
But on a call with media members last week, both Barnett and Cormier said thinking about what will happen after the fight would be a big mistake.
“My plans are to keep fighting in Strikeforce,” Barnett said. “If I have another fight lined up, if I were to win, when I win this one – ya know, thinking about all that stuff is enough to give you a headache. That’s all ‘what ifs,’ totally unimportant for a fighter’s mind. A manager can go ahead and think about that all they want to, ad nauseum. Let themselves rack their brains at night. Fans, journalists, by all means. Throw it off from each other as much as you want, get in arguments, start near riots, burn stuff. All good.
“Me? I do not care. It does not matter. I’ve got to beat Daniel Cormier, and then after that I’m sure there will be somebody else. And whatever they’re doing someplace else, more power to them.”
And though Cormier has no frosty history with the UFC and, it would seem, he’s destined to wind up there win or lose, he agreed with Barnett.
“It’s a situation where your focus has to be solely on this one goal,” Cormier said. “Everything else will play itself out. (Strikeforce CEO) Scott (Coker), everybody at Zuffa’s done a great job of letting us know that after this fight you aren’t (automatically) going over – that you have to fight in Strikeforce. So my idea that I have this fight and another one in Strikeforce, it’s whatever happens after that happens. Because in reality that’s not till probably next year, so what’s the point in taking seven, eight months in advance when you’ve got a guy like Josh Barnett standing in front of you? I’m not doing myself any disservice.”
Barnett and Cormier fight at the HP Pavilion in San Jose on a main card that will broadcast live on Showtime at 10 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. The prelims air live on Showtime Extreme at 8 p.m. The co-main event is a lightweight title fight between champion Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson.