||11-09-2012 04:43 AM
Strikeforce back Jan. 12 with three title fights; Daniel Cormier's return
Knock on wood, Strikeforce returns on Jan. 12.
(Update: This event will mark Strikeforce's final event. The news was first reported Thursday night by TMZ.com and was confirmed by MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani).
The Zuffa-owned fight company was forced to cancel its last two planned events. But Strikeforce announced via press release on Thursday night that it will return with a card in Oklahoma City on the second Saturday of 2013.
Four fights are set for the card at the Chesapeake Energy Arena: Three title fights and the return of Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier.
In the title bouts, lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will defend his title against Pat Healy; middleweight champion Luke Rockhold meets challenger Lorenz Larkin; and Nate Marquardt will face Tarec Saffiedine for the vacant welterweight title.
Cormier, meanwhile, returns for the final fight of his Strikeforce contract and will face Dion Staring.
"We've built an absolutely stacked card for Oklahoma City and the Showtime viewers," Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker stated in the press release. "We have three awesome title fights featuring some of the best fighters to ever grace the Strikeforce cage. Plus, we have Daniel Cormier, one of the fastest-rising heavyweight stars today, returning to his roots in Oklahoma to fight Dion Staring. January 12 is going to be a really special night."
Both Melendez-Healy and Rockhold-Larkin are rescheduled bouts. Melendez-Healy was originally set to headline a Sept. 29 card in Sacramento, Calif. But a shoulder injury forced the champion to pull out of the fight and the card was canceled. Rockhold-Larkin was slated for a Nov. 3 event in Oklahoma City, but Rockhold had to pull out with an injury, and that card, as well, was also injured.
Cormier returns to the cage for the first time since defeating Josh Barnett to win the Grand Prix tourney on May 19. Cormier was supposed to fight former UFC champion Frank Mir on the ill-fated Nov. 3 event, but Mir had to pull out of the fight with an injury. His opponent, Staring, is from Holland and has a record of 28-7. His biggest fight of note was a 2009 bout against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, which he lost via a third-round submission.
The event will mark the first Strikeforce card since Aug. 18, when Ronda Rousey finished Sarah Kaufman in the main event of a San Diego show.
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