Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” Strikeforce Debacle Snatches Pat Healy’s Dream Away
By Joshua Molina
Poor Pat Healy.
He was on the verge of a title shot against Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez, when Melendez injured his shoulder, forcing the cancellation of a main event and an entire September show.
Melendez separated his shoulder wrestling with his training brother Jake Shields, of all people.
Healy chose to wait for Melendez to heal rather than fight in the interim. Well, it looks he may never fight Melendez in Strikeforce and possibly ever.
Melendez is apparently still too injured to compete against Healy at Strikeforce’s final card on Jan. 12.
There will be many losers after Strikeforce folds, but Healy may be among the biggest of them. His dreams of a title shot are all but vanquished.
The UFC has a wealth of talent in the lightweight division. Coupled with the fact that Dana White and the UFC will likely have a bias against Strikeforce fighters, Healy won’t be in line for a UFC title shot anytime in 2013.
Healy had a legitimate shot to upset Melendez. El Nino dominated in Strikeforce and has been one of, if not the best, lightweights in the world for the last couple of years. Healy, however, who has won seven out of his last eight fights, is a tough, talented wrestler with strong submission skills.
Unlike Melendez’s fight against Josh Thomson, the fight with Healy, wouldn’t be a safe, defensive battle between two guys who know each other well.
Healy is hungry and would have made Melendez fight him – and beat him to retain the title.
A photo of Melendez’s separated shoulder poking out under his skin made the rounds on Twitter, so it’s clear that Melendez was seriously injured. But Melendez is probably smart to not rush into a fight with Healy in January.
The last thing Melendez needs, on Strikeforce’s last show, is to lose to his title to Healy. It’s unclear if the UFC will allow Strikeforce champions to take their belts with them to Strikeforce – and acknowledge them as champions – or if the title will just go up on Melendez’s mantle.
Melendez, who has been fighting for respect as being among the sport’s best, wants to go to the UFC with as much momentum as possible.
In the UFC, Melendez will likely be thrown quickly into the lightweight title mix. With all of the name fighters in the UFC, Melendez will probably fight someone other than Healy in his UFC debut.
Melendez vs. Bellator’s Eddie Alvarez, if the UFC as expected signs him, is the obvious big money match to make.
Where does that leave Healy? Out in the cold, probably. He will most likely have to work his way up into the title picture, a route that will take him at least a year.
Healy won’t be alone in his fortune. Several other fighters will likely have trouble finding a regular spot in the UFC. Guys like Josh Thomson, KJ Noons, Ovince St. Preux, Lorenz Larkin and Tarec Saffiedine are top guys who won’t have it easy in the UFC. For those fighters, it will almost be like they are starting over.
One good note, however, about UFC folding Strikeforce, is the possibility of seeing Santa Cruz, California’s Luke Rockhold immediately in the UFC. Barring an upset loss to Lorenz Larking, Rockhold will instantly become one of the UFC’s biggest stars.
He’s a good, well-rounded fighter, with good talking skills and great looks. While UFC fans talk about “dream” Anderson Silva matches, Strikeforce middleweight champion Rockhold is the future of the UFC division, the man who might be the guy to finally knock Silva off his throne.