Barnett and Gracie receive opponents for January Strikeforce
While the loss of Gilbert Melendez and Luke Rockhold can still be felt on this card, the execs at Strikeforce are working on overdrive to make a good card for the MMA fight fans. Earlier this week it was announced that Jorge Masvidal would be fighting number one contender Pat Healy in a lightweight fight, but today there was two big fights announced. Roger Gracie will be taking on Anthony Smith in a middleweight fight, and Strikeforce Grand Prix finalist Josh Barnett will be taking on promotion newcomer Nandor Guelmino. The event is set for January 12th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Nate Marquardt and Tarec Saffiedine.
Roger Gracie is fresh off a decision victory over former middleweight title challenger Keith Jardine in his middleweight debut. He dropped down to 185 after suffering a TKO loss to currently suspended King Mo Lawal. His opponent Anthony Smith has a mediocre record of 17-8, but considering he has been 9-1 in his last ten he seems to have taken his game to another level. He will most likely secure himself a spot in the UFC if he can topple a Gracie in his last bout under the Strikeforce veteran.
Josh Barnett may have a harder time getting himself back into the octagon since his history of testing positive for steroid use that has followed him, even though he has tested clean for nearly three years. Barnett is one of the last fighters still fighting from the original era, having debuted all the way back in 1997. In Guelmino, he faces an opponent older than him for once. Guelmino holds an 11-3-0 record, having started MMA in 2007 at the age of 31. He will face his biggest challenge to date in Barnett, and win or lose it will be a memorable fight since it is his first in America.