In a little more than a week Strikeforce will finally crown the winner of their long-running Heavyweight Grand Prix when Josh Barnett duels Daniel Cormier in headlining action. The two talented competitors have looked exceptionally sharp over the past few years, racking up a combined record of 17-0 since 2008.
Also set to mix it up on the May 19 card, lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will defend his belt against friendly rival Josh Thomson on the Showtime broadcast. The 20-2 Melendez is considered to be one of the Top 3 155ers in MMA but split his previous two pairings with Thomson (19-4).
All four men will field questions from media members this afternoon at 2:00 PM EST as part of a conference call promoting the event with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker also contributing to the festivities. As usual, Five Ounces of Pain will be on the line as things unfold while reporting highlights back to readers as they unfold in real time.
Read below for a breakdown of information/soundbytes from the call:
- Hasn’t thought about what he’ll do beyond his fight with Cormier
- Believes his experience is a big advantage over Cormier but respects Cormier’s Olympic background / Calls it an “equalizer”
- Been staying busy in the gym while waiting for Cormier
- Not interested in thinking 7-8 months down the road with a guy like Barnett in front of him
- Has seen improvement in his striking since being out
- Says he thought Pat Healy would get a shot at the belt before him, especially after his performance against KJ Noons
- Cut down on his workout routine to keep from overtraining
- Thinks Melendez took the first loss a little personally but squashed the issue with him and says they’re cool now
- Doesn’t care about Melendez’s comments about him not being “top talent”, says he was hard on himself after his last fight so he understands the criticism
- Calls Thomson a “tough guy” and likes the idea of fighting in a “battle of NorCal”
- Wants big names because that’s part of the business
- Was touched by Nate Diaz’s shout out after his UFC on FOX 3 / “That’s family right there.”
- Winner of heavyweight tournament is still expected to fight one more time in Strikeforce
- No plans to return to Las Vegas
- A belt has been created for the winner of Barnett-Cormier