Marquardt's UFC return rocked, Cormier calls out Jones
Nate Marquardt's anticipated return to the UFC was thrown into major doubt after he was hammered by Tarec Saffiedine in Saturday's final Strikeforce event, on a night when Daniel Cormier sent a message to Jon Jones.
Marquardt saw his welterweight title - and potentially his ticket back to the UFC - snatched away by Saffiedine, who owned the stand-up element of the fight for a 48-47 49-46 49-46 decision victory.
Having departed the UFC in acrimonious circumstances in June 2011, when high testosterone levels forced him out of a fight with Rick Story on the day of the weigh-ins, Marquardt looked set for a return as the Strikeforce welterweight champion. He had even stated he would fight Georges St-Pierre if asked.
However, Saffiedine peppered Marquardt's left leg to leave him struggling to walk ahead of the fifth round. Only in the second stanza did the champion threaten with a trip takedown, but his immediate future now looks as troubled as his highly damaged leg following a one-sided defeat.
"I've been training so hard for so long," Saffiedine said. "My kicks are one of my best weapons, and I trained them a lot in training, so that was kind of my game plan. It's unbelievable. I can't [believe] I'm wearing the belt right now. It's unreal."
Daniel Cormier's UFC dream remains alive after he comfortably beat Dion Staring in the co-main event. Cormier pounced for a vicious finish at 4.02 of the second round, stopping his man via TKO.
Staring was never expected to challenge Cormier, who is the biggest name set to enter the UFC from Strikeforce's roster. The two-time Olympian took his rival down at will and smashed him with punches and elbows to force the stoppage, before turning his attention to Frank Mir and UFC light-heavyweight champion Jones.
"I signed my UFC contract," Cormier told Showtime Sports. "April 20 on Fox, Frank Mir, let's do it. It was supposed to happen, and we were supposed to fight in Oklahoma, so he owes it to me.
"I'm going to let Jon defend his belt on April 27 [against Chael Sonnen], and then I'm going to kick his ass in the fall."
Elsewhere, Josh Barnett did his chances of a UFC return no harm with a first-round submission of Nandor Guelmino. Barnett secure an arm-triangle at 2.11 of the first round to defeat a man who had won his last seven.
Gegard Mousasi proved too much for Mike Kyle, winning via rear-naked choke at 4.09 of round one in the 205lb division, while Ronaldo Jacare Souza submitted Ed Herman via first-round kimura in a 194lb catchweight fight.