Saturday, December 19, 2009
If you're a fight fan - and aren't taking your wife out for her birthday dinner - tonight offers a difficult, albeit awesome, dilemma: which of the two exciting events taking place tonight do you watch?
As discussed earlier in the week, WEC 45 hits the mats at The Pearl at The Palms and airs on Versus, while Strikeforce: Evolution invades the HP Pavilion in the company's San Jose backyard.
Since there isn't much time before the preliminary bouts get underway (sorry, only so many days of Christmas shopping left...) and the main card for the WEC show was covered in the aforementioned piece, we'll tackle the Strikeforce main card and then make with the Punch Drunk Predictions.
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (6-0) vs. "Iron" Mike Whitehead (24-7-0)
Mo Lawal is easily one of the Top 5 Most Entertaining Fighters in the sport today; his interviews are always loaded with awesome soundbytes, his entrances are priceless and he just might be the most self-confident man on the face of the Earth.
The former three-time Senior National Wrestling champion takes a big step up in facing the veteran Whitehead, but he's been extremely impressive and downright dominant at times through his first six fights.
Whitehead is a former TUF contestant who is extremely difficult to finish. The former Miletich Fighting Systems fighter is 18-2 through his last 20 fights, but those numbers are a little deceiving.
Much like Paul Buentello last weekend at UFC 107, Whitehead feels like he's been around forever and while many know his name, he hasn't really beaten anyone of great consequence for quite some time.
Each time he enters the cage with someone of considerable skill and name recognition (Renato Sobral, Keith Jardine, Brandon Vera), he comes out on the wrong side of things. While he has racked up wins over the likes of Zak Jensen, Ruben Villareal and Kevin Randleman during that streak, none are as talented as Lawal.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (10-2-0, 1 NC) vs. Matt "The Law" Lindland (21-6-0)
While Mike Whitehead feels like he's been around forever, Matt Lindland has literally been around forever.
The 39-year-old is one of the founding members of the legendary Team Quest, was a UFC regular all through the company's dark ages, and has fought everyone from Pat Miletich and Murilo Bustamante, to Fedor and Vitor Belfort.
An Olympic silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling (Sydney, 2000), Lindland normally prefers to bring a fight to the floor and go from there, either grinding out a decision, sinking in a submission or getting a stoppage.
Unfortunately, bringing the fight to the floor is the best course of action for "Jacare" as well. The Black House member is one of the top jiu jitsu players in the sport today, winning this year's Abu Dhabi Combat Club Superfight over Robert Drysdale.
Souza hasn't faced nearly the same level of competition as Lindland, nor does he have the experience of the 39-year-old, but he also doesn't have the wear-and-tear of close to 30 fights and 13 years of punishment to contend with. Additionally, while Lindland has numerous outside interests that take up portions of his time, Souza is a fighter and a fighter only.
Josh "The Punk" Thomson (16-2-0) vs. "El Nino" Gilbert Melendez (16-2-0)
Boasting identical records and each holding a portion of the Strikeforce Lightweight title, Thomson and Melendez meet in their long-awaited rematch that should be the main event of the evening.
The first time they met, Thomson dominated Melendez, winning away the lightweight title via Unanimous Decision in June 2008. Since that time, Thomson has suffered twice as many serious injuries as he's had fights. That said, you don't go 16-2 by being the kind of guy who can't overcome an extended layoff.
While "The Punk" has been on the shelf, Melendez has taken up the mantle of being the most dominant lightweight on the Strikeforce roster. He earned the Interim title by knocking out Rodrigo Damm, then defended the belt and avenged his first career loss by beating Mitsuhiro Ishida back in August.
Now, the Scrap Pack member will be looking to avenge another loss and unify the lightweight title.
Cung Le (6-0-0) vs. Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith (17-6-0)
Earlier this week, Cung Le told all of us Keyboard Warriors to "keep clicking" when talking with Heavy.com about this bout against the heavy-handed Smith.
Well, here goes, Cung:
There are a whole lot of more compelling and competitive matchups for you in your return, but Strikeforce wants to give you fights where you won't be forced to go to the mat, unless it's to follow your opponent there after one of your fancy San Shou throws.
Scott Smith is a journeyman with heavy hands, that's about it. If he's such a challenging fight, how come the biggest wins of his career to date are his last win over Benji Radich - in a fight he was getting clobbered in - and his memorable knockout of Pete Sell from The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale?
The dumbass fans that boo whenever a fight goes to the ground may not have any interest in seeing "Jacare" and Jake Shields in what you called "a grappling match," but some of us certainly do. In fact, we want to see it more than we want to see you get hand-feed another guy who will be willing to stand-and-trade with you.
And by the way - when you win a title and then take nearly two years off to make mediocre movies, maybe you shouldn't wax all philosophical about the fans and how you deliver fights they really want to see?
Punch Drunk Predictions
AJ Fonseca over Alex Crispim via Split Decision
Bobby Stack over Alex Trevino via Unanimous Decision
Luis Mendoza over Juan Nunez via TKO, Round 1
Bryan Travers over Daisuke Nakamura via Unanimous Decision
Scott Lighty over Antwain Britt via TKO, Round 2
Muhammed Lawal over Mike Whitehead via Unanimous Decision
Ronaldo Souza over Matt Lindland via Submission, Round 2
Gilbert Melendez over Josh Thomson via TKO, Round 3
Cung Le over Scott Smith via TKO, Round 1
Jameel Massouh over Erik Koch via Submission, Round 2
Kyle Dietz over Brad Pickett via Submission, Round 1
Brandon Visher over Courtney Buck via TKO, Round 1
Muhsin Corbbrey over Zack Micklewright via Submission, Round 2
Anthony Pettis over Bart Palaszewski via TKO, Round 2
Takeya Mizugaki over Scott Jorgensen via Unanimous Decision
Rani Yayha over Joseph Benavidez via Submission, Round 2
Anthony Njokuani over Chris Horodecki via TKO, Round 3
Donald Cerrone over Ed Ratcliff via Submission, Round 1
Now touch gloves and come out swinging!