It’s a battle of legends tonight, a PRIDE dream match when The Last Emperor takes on the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion tonight in Chicago. But let’s not forget the Women’s Welterweight title fight, a middleweight title eliminator and what could the first round of a welterweight title tournament that I’ve constructed in my own head.
Scott Smith vs. Tarec Saffidine
This one is a battle of guys trying to get back into the title picture with the welterweight belt up in the air at the moment. Smith is on a 2-fight losing streak, coming off of the receiving end of the Bang’s KO of 2010. Saffidine is coming off a decision loss to Tyron Woodley back in January. Smith’s knockout power is well known and his KO’s of Cung Le and Pete Sell are both highlight reel material. The problem with Smith is that he prefers to bang. He has wrestling chops, but he can be dominated on the ground. Lucky for him, the Sponge (one of the worst nicknames in MMA) has some of the same traits. However, Saffidine should be improved in the ground game, having been ground down by the clench and takedown defense of Woodley.
Paul Daley vs. Tyron Woodley
These are the two top welterweight prospects in Strikeforce. Paul Daley has recovered his reputation (I feel) since the ugly Koscheck incident with a highlight reel knockout of Scott Smith and a game round against Nate Diaz in April. There’s no secret to his game: hit hard, hit fast, hit often. Woodley can strike well, had a solid ground game and likes to use a strong clench to control his opponents. The undefeated Woodley would be a great fighter to market for a future title shot against a fighter to be named later, but he has to get past Daley. If he wants to get his hand raised, he’s got to get on top of Semtex and fast, frustrate the striker and make him open himself up to punishment. The winner of this one is supposed to fight for the welterweight belt against an unnamed fighter (don’t know who else is on the roster at that level) at some point in the future. I’m pretty sure Armando has featured Woodley at some point in his Dickride of the Week segment on the BangCast, so that may be a curse for him…
Robbie Lawler vs. Tim Kennedy
Kennedy has said in various interviews over the last week that he wants another shot at Jacare and the middleweight title. Will a won over the vet Lawler (the last guy Jacare beat) be enough? I’d say so because of the lack of depth at the top levels of…well, every Strikeforce division save for heavyweight. Lawler has a decent record against top level wrestlers, recently beating Matt Lindland but getting submitted by Jake Shields and ground out by Babalu. His power is in his hands and there’s no denying where his strength is. The question is whether Kennedy will get sucked into standing and trading with Ruthless or will he stick to what will likely work on the ground and try to ground out a win and work his way back to the top at 180.
Women’s Welterweight Championship – Marloes Coenen (c) vs. Miesha Tate
Tate has done a pretty good job of hyping this fight, but she’s done it by taking on the boss. As we talked about in this week’s BangCast, Tate made some remarks about Dana White’s feelings towards women’s MMA (“I don’t like seeing girls fight”) and making this fight a showcase for the sport. Coenen is already a great ambassador for women’s MMA and has been in some great battles in Strikeforce. She made a name for herself in her 2010 loss to Cris Cyborg, then dropped to 135 and won the title from Sarah Kauffman. Then she had a great comeback defense against Liz Caramouche (think Silva-Sonnen). Tate was supposed to get that fight back in March, but an injury opened the door for Caramouche to step in. Coenen is one of the premier submission specialists in women’s MMA (14 of 19 wins via tapout) and she’ll face a strong grappler in Tate. But Tate has rounded off her game a little better and I believe is the better striker coming into this bout.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson
A battle of PRIDE veterans. Two of the greatest fighters of all time. I have a hard time going one way or the other in this one because each man seems to be pretty well matched up with each other. We’ve seen great KO’s from both guys as well as each man’s proficiency on the ground. Fedor has dispatched top wrestlers like Mark Coleman (twice) and Kevin Randleman. Henderson has fallen to heavy-handed guys like Big Nog and Rampage. We know that Fedor has been more determined as of late, because of the possibility that this is his last fight. He came into the Silva fight looking a little overweight and slower than we’re used to seeing him. Henderson turned around from getting dominated for 5 rounds by Jake Shields to try to prove that he’s got one last run in him, dropping Babalu before stopping Feijao in the 3rd round for the belt. True fans of MMA have wanted this fight since the mid-2000s and has fight of the year possibilities, if for nothing more than history’s sake.
Those are the fights, here is how the Interrobang staff thinks it will go:
|Smith vs. Saffidine||Smith||Saffidine||Saffidine|
|Daley vs. Woodley||Woodley||Daley||Daley|
|Lawler vs. Kennedy||Kennedy||Kennedy||Lawler|
|Coenen vs. Tate||Tate||Coenen||Coenen|
|Emelianenko vs. Henderson||Henderson||Emelianenko||Emelianenko|
Armando once again stepping away from the pack. The strategy has him on top of the MMA Predictor standings. And he’s already talking about it. Consider this email he recently sent me. The title was “It Begins” and that was in it was this picture: