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Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold out of Strikeforce: Champions

Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.

Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. Credit: Strikeforce

The planned Strikeforce extravaganza night of champions is quickly running out of actual champions.

Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold withdrew from his title defense against Lorenz Larkin at the Jan. 12 card in Oklahoma City with a nagging wrist injury. It is the same injury that forced Rockhold to pull out of his defense on the Nov. 3 card.

Rockhold is the second champion in the past week or so to pull out of the Strikeforce card, reportedly the promotion's last. Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will not fight on the January card either. He was supposed to fight Pat Healy again after pulling out of their Sept. 29 bout with a shoulder injury.

Both the September and November cards were scrapped entirely when Showtime declined to broadcast them in the absence of a top-tier main event.

The main cards air on Showtime, with two hours of prelims airing on Showtime Extreme.

TMZ reported Nov. 8 that this would be Strikeforce's last event, but officials from either Zuffa or Showtime have yet to announce any news. Purchased by Zuffa, the parent company of UFC, in March 2011, Strikeforce never gained a fan base as strong as that of big brother.

So what's left for "Strikeforce: Champions"?

Welterweight champion Nate Marquardt.

Marquardt (32-10-2) will make his first welterweight title defense against Tarec Saffiedine (13-3). Also scheduled to fight is Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier (10-0), a former NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State. He will fight the lesser-known Dion Staring (28-7), who makes his promotional debut.

Added to the card recently is a bout between former light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi and Mike Kyle.

New York Sports