Strikeforce bring not only a major ‘clash of the titans’ style main event to Chicago on Saturday night, but also a quality line-up of fights right the way down the main card which will be televised on Showtime.
See below for our preview and predictions for the event’s big fights.
Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko
Two legends of the sport collide at a time when ironically their careers seem to be heading in different directions with Henderson on the rise again after winning the Strikeforce light-heavyweight title, while Fedor has gone two fights without a win for the first time in his career.
This really is a fascinating match-up. Striking wise both have fight-ending power in their right hands. Henderson very much favors his overhand right – understandable given how effective it is, but sometimes it can make his output a little predictable. Fedor has more variety in his striking and throws more combinations, but he tends to throw a little wild which potentially leaves him open to counters.
Both men are exceptionally durable, with Henderson in particular having an almost unbreakable jaw, while Fedor can soak up a lot of punishment and still remain dangerous. They are also well conditioned and have a wealth of experience at their disposal so cardio shouldn’t be a factor here.
As far as the grappling goes it’s again an interesting match-up of styles. Henderson is an excellent wrestler and that’ll make Fedor’s life difficult if he wants to take the fight to the mat – though he will have in the region of 15-20lbs on Hendo on the night which could be significant. Henderson is well rounded enough not to be an easy target from his back, but Fedor will still pose a very real submission threat.
Tough one to call. In terms of momentum Henderson is the one coming into this fight on a roll while Fedor has looked far from his best over the last year or two. However Fedor has been consistently fighting guys a lot bigger than him of late and that’s played a big factor in his performances. On this occasion he gets a rare chance to come in as the bigger man, and I think that may just be enough to swing the fight in his favor. It’ll be close though.
Fedor Emelianenko to win by decision.
Marloes Coenen vs. Miesha Tate
Coenen Vs tate takes the co-main event spot, and this is a quality match-up that could prove to be a great advertisement for female MMA.
Striking wise Coenen is the more technical fighter, with her years training at Golden Glory ensuring that she’s a slick kickboxer, though she can be a little hesitant to really unload her power shots at times, particularly against fighters who may seek to take her down as Tate will.
While primarily a wrestler Tate’s own striking has improved and she’s got decent boxing though it’s usually just a means to an end as she closes the gap and goes for the takedown.
There’s a good chance that a large percentage of this fight will take place on the mat as Tate will be keen to impose her wrestling, and Coenen is vulnerable to the takedown. Coenen has proven time after time that she’s very comfortable off her back, and very dangerous too. Named ‘The Female Rickson’, she is a very crafty submission fighter and has a knack for staying calm under pressure and finding an opening to use her BJJ skills.
Tate has very good top control however, and also shows a good awareness for potential submission threats. Her strategy is likely to be to stifle Coenen and rough her up with ground and pound when the opportunity presents itself.
This could play out very similar to Coenen’s last couple of fights against Liz Carmouche and Sarah Kaufman. On those two occasions she was being dominated by her opponents wrestling before pulling off a spectacular come-from-behind submission. As skilled as she is it’s going to be difficult to pull that trick off for a third time in succession, and I think Tate is hungry and determined enough to come away with a decision win here.
Miesha Tate to win by decision.
Tim Kennedy vs. Robbie Lawler
On paper this looks like an entertaining middleweight scrap between war hero Tim Kennedy and KO specialist Robbie Lawler.
No doubting who weilds the bigger power here, I’d wager Lawler is one of the biggest pound-for-pound punchers in the sport, with 15 of his 18 career victories coming by knockout, many of them coming in spectacular fashion.
He often capitalizes on openings left by his opponents however, and he might find a lack of those from Kennedy who doesn’t possess a great deal of power, but does good boxing fundamentals and has a disciplined defence.
Lawler has good wrestling, but tends to use it solely to keep the fight standing and that’ll be no different here. Kennedy on the other hand has a solid blend of wrestling and BJJ, plus a methodical approach that can make him tough to shake off if he does get on top. Lawler has a weakness to submissions so there’s no doubt that’s going to factor into his strategy.
It’s always risky picking against Lawler’s devastating power but Kennedy is very tough, durable and will come in with a good strategy which will likely be to mix things up with a focus on grinding Lawler down on the mat when possible. A jack of all trades, this suits Kennedy’s style fairly well and I think he can outwork Lawler and potentially even pick up a late submission victory as Lawler gets tired and a little frustrated.
Tim Kennedy to win by submission in Rd3.
Paul Daley vs. Tyron Woodley
Two of the Strikeforce welterweight division’s leading men battle it out with a potential shot at the vacant title awaiting the winner.
There’s little guesswork needed on the two men’s strategies in this fight which is a clear striker Vs grappler affair. For Daley it’s all about keeping the fight standing as much as possible where his vicious, powerful and fairly technical striking can provide serious problems for anyone standing across the cage from him.
Woodley’s a good athlete and has improving stand-up, but this isn’t the kind of opponent to test how his striking is coming along. Instead he’ll be looking to utlilize the major wrestling advantage he wields to put Daley on his back, a position that he thrives in and the Brit notoriously despizes.
To be fair Daley has been working hard on his takedown defense, but it’s not an area of the game he enjoys or excels at, while Woodley has shown himself to be a dominating wrestler making this a very challenging match-up for the UK fighter.
If Daley finds a home for one of his punches then it could be game over, but Woodley’s quick and I think for the best part of this fight he’ll be closing the distance quickly, getting ‘Semtex’ to the mat and either working some ground and pound or looking for a submission. Either way I think it looks like a tough and frustrating night for Daley.
Tyron Woodley to win by decision.
Tarec Saffiedine vs. Scott Smith
With both fighters coming off a loss last time out, Saffiedine and Smith will be eager to have their hands raised in the opening bout of the main card.
Assessing Smith’s skill-set doesn’t take a whole lot of time. Put simply he does a couple of things very well indeed – he hits hard and he can stand up to hell of a lot of punishment. Combine the two and you get a fighter who’s produced some of the most remarkable against-all-odds victories in the sport.
Saffiedine on the other hand is less lethal, but far more well rounded. He’s got good mobility, has decent striking technique and is capable on the ground with enough wrestling to pose Smith problems and good submissions.
As with Daley this is not a particularly good match-up for Smith to display his striking skills and I see Saffiedine getting the better of him on the mat and forcing a tap-out at some stage.
Tarec Saffiedine to win by submission in Rd2