FREE AGENT NOTEBOOK VOL. 1 - OCTOBER 2009
After some time in the Smoogy FC Laboratory, working out the kinks, I've returned with the follow-up to August's UFC/Strikeforce Free Agent War Journal
. Instead of basing the project around an overall Top 10 list, like a Billboard Top 40 of available MMA talent, I've decided to instead focus each installment on a different topic pertaining to the free agent landscape. This way I can respond more robustly to the generous feedback I've received so far, and use current events in MMA to frame the discussion.
With that in mind, I've decided to base this first installment on the newly-christened Free Agent Notebook on the state of Strikeforce's oft-maligned light heavyweight division. Much is made of the fact that with Renato "Babalu" Sobral dispatched in such decisive fashion, there don't appear to be many appealing challengers for the champion, Gegard Mousasi, to defend the title against. So instead of the ol' piss and moan, I've scoured the MMA world for capable 205lb fighters who might be the answer to Strikeforce's troubles, and now I present the ten best candidates for the job (and five who didn't quite make it).
First, a quick glance at the current state of things in the Strikeforce 205lb division:
1. Gegard Mousasi (26-2-1) [Champion]
2. Renato Sobral (35-9)
3. Sokoudjou (7-4)
4. Mike Whitehead (24-6)
5. Rafael Feijao (7-2)
6. Antwain Britt (9-3)
7. Bobby Southworth (9-6)
8. Kevin Randleman (17-13)
9. Po'ai Suganuma (9-3)
10. Aaron Rosa (12-2)
Not exactly much to write home about, is there? But if Strikeforce can sign some or, God willing, all of the following fighters, their future will look a lot brighter.
[DISCLAIMER: I am not declaring these fighters as free agents; any of them may have existing fight contracts.]
1. Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (5-0)
Coming off his quick win over Mark Kerr at M-1 "Breakthrough" in late August, Mo Lawal has reached a new plateau of fame among die-hard MMA fans. Credit manager Ryan Parsons for helping make "King Mo" one of the hottest names in the sport only a year into his pro career. With developing fanbases in the U.S. and Japan, expect The King to continue fighting on both sides of the Pacific.
[NOTE: Mo Lawal has signed a multi-fight contract with Strikeforce as of 10/13/2009]
2. Jamal Patterson (5-2)
Jamal Patterson's career has languished since the IFL collapsed last year, with just a February win over Antwain Britt (via his signature guillotine choke) to show for the last 18 months. With his mix of size, submission skills and striking acumen, he would make a fine addition to the Strikeforce roster, and with only seven pro fights under his belt, their "Challengers Series" is an ideal venue for Patterson to build his resume.
3. Phil Davis (4-0)
Phil Davis is the least experienced of the light heavyweights appearing on this list. He may also possess the greatest potential to forge a long, successful career at the elite level of MMA. Davis started his career only months after winning the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship at 197lbs in 2008, but his MMA skills have improved rapidly, particularly his boxing and top control ground'n'pound attack. A year after his pro debut, he has trouble finding willing opponents.
4. Glover Teixeira (7-2)
Glover Teixeira's inevitable debut in a major American promotion has to be among the most delayed, yet promising, in recent MMA history. Reports earlier in the year had him close to signing with UFC, but nothing has materialized since. If Teixiera is still available, and his visa issues have been squared away, he could make immediate waves in Strikeforce with his world-class grappling skills.
5. Tim Boetsch (9-3)
Following a razor thin decision loss to Jason Brilz, in a dark match at UFC 96 that virtually nobody saw, Tim Boetsch was quietly released by the company. His crowd-pleasing muay thai style and memorable TKO victories make him an asset to any promotion. In Strikeforce, he could provide an interesting test for anyone on the existing roster, and potentially challenge for the title.