Remember when Strikeforce was the second biggest MMA promotion in the world back in 2011? Despite being the number two promotion, many fans believed the UFC had the far superior roster of fighters compared to Strikeforce. However, since the acquisition in 2011, Strikeforce veterans have proven their value in the Octagon by winning five UFC championships, headlining numerous UFC events, and landing high-profile coaching gigs on The Ultimate Fighter. Here is the list of top 10 fighters the UFC gained through Strikeforce based on fighter performance, ability to headline events, and marketing and fan appeal.
- Ronda Rousey: By far the biggest crossover star in the UFC history, who helped build women’s MMA and further heightened the UFC’s mainstream appeal. All seven of her fights in the Octagon have been main event or co-main event title fights. Her main event loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia drew 56,000 fans and 1,100,000 PPV buys. She has been a strong company woman, who has gone out of her way to do media appearances and coached The Ultimate Fighter against long-time rival Miesha Tate. Love her or hate her, you must respect what she has done to grow both the UFC and women’s MMA.
- Robbie Lawler: Lawler’s unexpected run to the UFC welterweight crown has surprised many fans. After a journeyman run as a middleweight in Strikeforce, the once-heralded top prospect dropped back down to welterweight for his return to the Octagon. He has fought nine times since 2013, amassing a 8-1 record and 3-1 record in title fights. He has put on memorable and gutsy ‘Fight of the Night’ performances against Johny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald, and Carlos Condit.
- Daniel Cormier: The current light heavyweight champion has been a great ambassador for the UFC as both a fighter and an analyst for UFC Tonight. He has taken down former champions andtop contenders including Dan Henderson, Frank Mir, Anthony Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, and Roy Nelson during his 5-1 run in the UFC. His feud with rival Jon Jones received a lot of mainstream coverage after their press conference brawl and their highly anticipated rematch at UFC 197 will likely be the biggest match in UFC light heavyweight history.
- Fabricio Werdum: Werdum was cut by the UFC after getting knocked out by Junior Dos Santos at UFC 90 back in 2008. After signing with Strikeforce, he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in MMA history by submitting Fedor Emelianenko in the first round. His 6-0 record during his second run in the UFC was highlighted with a submission victory over Cain Velasquez to win the heavyweight title at UFC 188. He also coached against Velasquez during The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America.
- Luke Rockhold: Rockhold won the UFC middleweight title from Chris Weidman at UFC UFC 194. Since entering the UFC, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion has been the main event for five cards en route to a 5-1 record with five finishes. In addition to beating the Weidman, Rockhold has also taken out former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and Michael Bisping. He is scheduled to headline his sixth UFC event at UFC 199 when he fights Weidman for the second time.