In the battle of the heavyweight rosters, who comes out on top?


I was inspired to write this after reading this post on the Yahoo Sports Cagewriter blog.

The UFC is pretty much universally accepted as the top level of MMA, in fact some people think the UFC is MMA. Dana White wants everyone to know that the UFC is the best and we should accept no substitutes and he laughs off suggestions that rival promotions such as strikeforce are even credible.

But when you look at the lineups of the top 5 fighters in the Heavyweight divisions of both organisations you could make a strong case for them being very much on a par with each other.

  • Strikeforce: Fedor, Werdum, Overeem, Silva, Barnett
  • UFC: Lesnar, Velasquez, Carwin, Dos Santos, Mir

Running the numbers:
The combined records of the UFC’s top 5 fighters is 51-8-0 thats a win loss ration of 86%. Strikeforce has a 119-24-2 record with a win loss of 83%. A slight edge to the UFC with one of their fighters unbeaten, 3 only beaten once and old pube head (Mir) bringing up the rear with 5 defeats. But this is evened out with the fact that ‘Team Strikeforce’ have had far more fights. Nevertheless the UFC takes this category. UFC 1, Strikeforce 0

The superstar factor
There can be no denying that Strikeforce have an ace up their sleeve in Fedor. Although he’d deny it, you can bet that Dana White covets having Fedor on his roster. Brock is the UFC’s number 1 guy right now and his presence on a card pretty much guarantees a ratings spike. They have even renamed October to “Brocktober” to hype his next fight against Velasquez. For sure he is a megastar for the organisation and a beast of a man with amazing athletic ability for his size. Probably out of all the fighters named in this post he would come out top in athleticism tests: But this is MMA and it’s been proven that in the Octagon he is very much human, and he has looked very beatable.

Fedor is still the man in the hardcore fans eyes, but he is approaching the twilight of his fighting career and seems more in the business of protecting his legacy than carrying on smashing people. Nevertheless he went 28 fights unbeaten no-one has done that before and he commands respect. I give the edge to Strikeforce here. UFC 1 Strikeforce 1

The other guys
The UFC has the only undefeated contender in Cain Velasquez. He is about to face off against Brock Lesnar and could very well be the man to take the belt. Shane Carwin has beaten everyone he fought pre-Lesnar inside the 1st round by TKO. Junior Dos Santos is thought by many to be a future champ and love him or hate him (I’m in the latter category) Mir is still a talented fighter (once it hits the mat).

Although he isn’t their superstar draw, Strikeforces Werdum is still the man that beat the man (in 69 seconds no less!). He has also beat Silva and Overeem but has a loss to Dos Santos and was dropped by the UFC following that loss. Following the loss to Werdum, Overeem had a shitty 12months racking up a 2-4 record (admittedly three losses were to Nogueira, Arona and Rua). Since he got back to winning ways against Buentello, ‘Ubereem’ has smashed 7 opponents to dust in the first round and kneed the hell out of CroCops balls. He is an early favourite for this years K1 Grand Prix title and is the Stirkeforce HW champion. Taking the K1 title will up his credibility a hell of a lot more. Silva is a gigantic man with fists the size of my head and Barnett is still one of the best grapplers in MMA and a legend in Japan. If you take Fedor and Brock out of the fight records and look at the win ratio Strikforce drop to 79% and UFC stay at 86%. However on name value and quality of opponents Strikeforces ‘other guys’ edge it. UFC 1 Strikeforce 2

Actually fighting each other!
This is the biggest issue here (and one which is the focus of Cofields article). The UFC’s guys are very active and are all about fighting each other. Strikeforce has big problems due to the whole Fedor /M1 / Wamma fiasco. Fedor wants to fight Werdum again, Overeem is Strikeforce champ and wants to fight Fedor, Werdum should be the guy that fights Overeem since he beat Fedor etc… Although Overeem and Werdum have fought before it was not on Strikeforce. There have only been 2 fights between the top 5 guys on strikeforce: Werdum vs Silva and Werdum vs Fedor. Compare this to the UFC where we have seen: Mir vs Lesnar, Mir vs Carwin,
Carwin vs Lesnar and we’re about to see Lesnar vs Velasquez and it’s fair to see the UFC have a clear edge here. UFC 2 Strikeforce 2

The shadow of steroids:
Lesnar used to be in the WWE. Ergo he was a juicer. No doubt about it. Whether he is now clean is up for debate. He certainly hasn’t tested positive but maybe he’s clever? Once a user always a user? Who knows, but he definitely needs to keep his nose clean now. The UFC can’t have a champ who’s a juicer. Carwin we all know about. The rest of the UFC guys are pretty much squeaky clean.

Strikeforce’s HW roster is riddled with PES abusers. Barnett is the only man in MMA to have been done 3 times, Silva got caught and suffered a 1 year US ban. Overeem is in the Lesnar boat: Widely believed to be on it (come on have you seen him? That is not natural) but to my knowledge hasn’t actually tested postive. Putting aside all the arguments about random urine tests being woefully inadequate, the bare facts are that we only KNOW for a fact that Strikeforce have the most juicers. -1 for foul play to them.

End Result – The UFC edges it (only just).

There are some great fighters working for both promotions. Imagine if we lived in a world where inter-organisational politics wasn’t an issue. How much better would a Barnett vs Mir be than a Mir vs CroCop. Who wouldn’t prefer to see Carwin vs Overeem as opposed to Overeem vs Rogers? A pipe-dream I know, but I really hope that one day the sport evolves to the point where we can happily have Strikeforce fighters against UFC fighters. We had UFC vs Pride once back in the day…. maybe we’ll see it again.

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