The event was poorly attended and there wasn't much traffic to be garnered from the fights, but in terms of quality action Strikeforce Grand Prix: Barnett vs. Kharitonov absolutely delivered.
Speaking personally, I enjoyed watching Maximo Blanco get owned by The Kadowaki Special. Seeing Yoel Romero's dancing rewarded with a spinning back first was equally delightful. I admire Alexis Davis' hard-fought win over the bruising Amanda Nunes. I initially scored the fight for Jacare (not confidently), but who can walk away from Luke Rockhold's win as anything but impressed? Josh Barnett's easy dismissal of Sergei Kharitonov was as predictable as it was admirable.
The most impressive win, though, has to belong to Daniel Cormier. What a finish over Antonio Silva by the two-time Olympian. In my preview, I was skeptical of his chances, but added the caveat if anyone could athletically rise to the occasion it was Cormier. And rise he did. My hope is his hand will be healed enough to compete against Barnett in the finals.
Cormier vs. Barnett is arguably the perfect ending to the grand prix. On either side of the bracket, it's these two fighters who have the most to gain. Cormier can catapult himself into top contender status and move closer to the top athletic achievement in MMA. For a man whose professional accomplishments have been partially diluted due to personal devastation, it would make for a redemptive story to see him triumph now as his personal life is on the other side of mending.
And then there's Barnett, whose ups and downs in his career have often overshadowed and drowned out his enormous talent. After a number of professional setbacks, a win in the grand prix wouldn't necessarily guarantee him a spot in UFC should Strikeforce collapse, but it would position him in the best spot possible.
They both need it. Their styles match interestingly. What a fight that would be.