LAS VEGAS – With Strikeforce's first 2012 show in the books, the promotion now looks ahead to its next event, and the promotion on Saturday confirmed four bouts for a previously rumored March 3 event.
As expected Strikeforce female bantamweight champion Miesha Tate (12-2 MMA, 5-1 SF) meets undefeated challenger Ronda Rousey (4-0 MMA, 2-0 SF) in one of the night's featured contests, but Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said it's not necessarily the evening's featured bout.
"That's not been determined yet," Coker told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "We're still booking some more fights."
K.J. Noons (11-4 MMA, 3-2 SF) vs. Josh Thomson (18-4 MMA, 9-2 SF), Paul Daley (29-11-2 MMA, 2-2 SF) vs. Kazuo Misaki (24-11-2 MMA, 1-0 SF) and Alexis Davis (11-4 MMA, 2-0 SF) vs. Sarah Kaufman (14-1 MMA, 5-1 SF) were also made official for the card, which takes place at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Coker said the promotion still hopes to feature the finals of Strikeforce's heavyweight grand prix at the March 3 event but is still waiting on medical clearance for finalist Daniel Cormier.
"I know that (Strikeforce matchmaker) Sean (Shelby) is still working out some of the details on that, so we'll hopefully have something for you shortly," Coker said.
Tate and Rousey, of course, have engaged in a very public war of words centered around Rousey's worthiness as a title challenger. Former 135-pound champion Kaufman has also been outspoken in regards to the relative MMA neophyte earning a shot at gold in just her fifth career fight, especially with the first four taking place at 145 pounds.
Nevertheless, Rousey impressive work to date – which includes scoring four wins in just 138 seconds of total cage time – will see her skip to the front of the line.
Tate looks to defend for the first time the title she earned with a fourth-round submission win of former champ Marloes Coenen this past July. Tate currently boasts a six-fight win streak and is 11-1 in her past 12 fights. The lone loss came in a May 2009 bout with Kaufman.
Meanwhile, Rousey, a former Olympic judoka, has yet to taste defeat in seven total professional and amateur contests. In fact, not one of Rousey's opponents has yet to make it out of the first minute of the fight, and all seven contests have ended via armbar.
Noons rebounded from a two-fight skid with a decision victory over Billy Evangelista this past month at "Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal." The win put him one step closer to a coveted title shot against current champ Gilbert Melendez, who outpointed Jorge Masvidal in the event's headliner.
Masvidal spoiled Noons' return to lightweight this past June after his unsuccessful bid for then-welterweight champion Nick Diaz's title eight months prior.
American Kickboxing Academy product Thomson hasn't fought since he lost a decision to Tatsuya Kawajiri at DREAM "Dynamite!! 2010," which snapped a two-fight win streak. He was expected to return this past September at "Strikeforce Grand Prix: Barnett vs. Kharitonov" to face World Victory Road/Sengoku veteran Maximo Blanco, but he was forced to withdraw due to a foot injury.
The setbacks further delayed what many believe to be an inevitable rubber match with Melendez, whom he bested in June 2008 to win the Strikeforce lightweight title and lost to 18 months months later in a hotly contested rematch.
Misaki makes a rare appearance in the U.S. after spending the majority of his career fighting in his native Japan. A two-time Sengoku title challenger, Misaki fought just once in 2011, earning a second-round TKO over Akira Shoji this past April. The 35-year-old "Grabaka Hitman" boasts past fights with a host of notables, including Yoshihiro Akiyama, Ricardo Almeida Siyar Bahadurzada, Phil Baroni, Paulo Filho, Dan Henderson, Ed Herman, Denis Kang, Chris Lytle, Melvin Manhoef, Nate Marquardt, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Joe Riggs, Jorge Santiago, Jake Shields and Frank Trigg, among others.
Davis carries a two-fight win streak into the rematch of an April 2007 contest that saw Kaufman earn a third-round TKO win. Kaufman also boasts a two-fight win streak built after suffering her lone career loss to Marloes Coenen in October 2010.