Cormier's fight booked, ideas on who's Barnett fighting?
This is just me spitballing, but right now Strikeforce only has two HW's signed; Cormier and Barnett. According to the Strikeforce/Showtime contract, both fighters have to compete in one post grand prix fight under the Strikeforce banner, before the Strikeforce HW division completely folds into the UFC. So unless Strikeforce does a rematch of the grand prix finale, which is highly unlikely, they will have to signed two more HW's or cross promote with Zuffa.
After finding found out earlier this week that Cormier's last fight will be against Mir, cross promoting appears to be the road Zuffa is heading down. Which make since, since Strikeforce and the UFC HW division will be compeletly merged soon anyways. Put simply, its actually Cormier's first UFC fight, it just happens to be under the Strikeforce brand in order to full-fill their existing contract with Showtime. Honestly I would be surprized if the UFC isn't using this fight to determine whether Cormier will get an immedate title shot when enters the UFC or not.
So half the puzzle is complete, but who will Barnett fight?
Former Strikeforce fighter Devin Cole, 0-0 UFC, was once rumored to be Ben Rothwell's replacement against Travis Browne, but that was nixed and Browne was quickly removed from the card completely. Who know's maybe that move was intentional. Maybe we'll soon find out that Browne will be fighting alongside Mir under the Strikeforce brand. Honestly though a Browne vs. Barnett kind of makes since. At least to me.
Browne is a serious up-in-coming title contender, but he is in need of an challenge to help strenghten his contender status. The problem is that there are very few logical opponets available at the moment. One logical opponet available is Fabricio Werdum. He, however, might be waiting in the wings as backup plan for the UFC in case either Cain Velasquez or Junior Dos Santos are forced to withdraw from their upcoming title fight.
Its obvious that Strikeforce is need of an opponet for Barnett, and since Browne appears to need another victory over a top teir HW to be included in title picture, why not.
Another reason this arises as possible match-up to me, well at least after learning of Zuffa's willingness to cross promote, is the rocky relationship between Dana White and Josh Barnett. The beef dates back to when Barnett won the title against Randy Couture at UFC 36, and immedately pissed hot. Dana mentioned several times over the years that he would never sign Barnett to the UFC again. Recently, however, Dana has cracked the window on a possible return.
So in short I'm saying that if Dana believes that Browne has what it takes to beat Barnett, makes the match-up, and Browne wins. He will be taking out two birds with one stone; bolsters the title resume of one of his top HW's and giving him justification for not signing Barnett into the UFC. He could simply say that he feels that Barnett is washed up. That statement might be convincing considering Barnett would be on a two fight losing streak against up-in-coming fighters and the fact that neither of the two fighters he beat to reach the Grand-Prix finals were resigned by the UFC, signaling an easy tournament road.
Worst case senerio, for Dana, is that Barnett wins. But who cares, then he just competely changes his tune and welcome Barnett with open arms