Alistair Overeem Vs Brett Rogers
We’ve waited a while for Alistair Overeem to return to Strikeforce to defend his heavyweight title, and when I say ‘a while’ I actually mean two and a half years. Since that time the Dutch fighter has went unbeaten in MMA competition in Japan and Holland with six wins and a draw, though his opponents haven’t always been stellar.
Despite losing to Fedor Emelianenko in his last fight, Brett Rogers had went 10 fights unbeaten prior to that, and that was enough to convince strikeforce that he was still worthy of being the first challenger for Overeem’s title.
Overeem is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous strikers in the heavyweight division, possessing genuine K1 level kickboxing and a genuine threat with all eight limbs. His strikes from the clinch are very dangerous, particularly his knees, and on the ground (or indeed at times standing) he has one of the most vicious guillotines in the game.
Rogers is less technical, but he’s a strong, capable fighter with knockout power in his hands, solid in the clinch, good mobility for his size. He also proved in his victory over Arlovski, and even in defeat against Fedor, that he can hang with the best that Strikeforce has to offer.
This is certainly not an easy fight for Overeem to return to Strikeforce with. He’s been knocked out several times in his career in both K-1 and MMA competition and Rogers certainly has the power to put him to sleep. It’s tempting to take Overeem as he has so many weapons in the striking realm, but after waiting so long for him to return to Strikeforce I just have the feeling we could be headed for an upset here.
I’m picking Brett Rogers to win by TKO in Rd2.
Andrei Arlovski Vs Antonio Silva
It’s fair to say that 2009 was not a great year for Andrei Arlovski. The former UFC heavyweight champion suffered back-to-back knockout defeats to both Fedor and Rogers.
After almost a year out the 31 year-old looks to get his career back on track against Antonio Silva who lost by unanimous decision against Fabricio Werdum back in November, only the second defeat of his fifteen fight career.
In what should be a stand-up battle I expect Arlovski to have an advantage in technique, speed and cardio. The catch is that these days his jaw has the punch resistance of a saloon door. There’s also major questions over how his recent victories have affected his mental game, with the fighter admitting to having seen a shrink prior to this fight.
Antonio Silva certainly has the power to give Arlovski problems, and he’ll also enjoy a size and reach advantage on the night. He can have a tendency to look ponderous though, particularly later on in fights, and he lost a lot of his bite in the later rounds in his fight with Fabricio Werdum, who matched him on the feet despite being farm more comfortable on the ground.
A lot depends on Arlovski’s attitude here. If he comes out like a ‘pitbull’ in a china shop and is reckless then he may well take another nap on the canvas. I think he’ll be much more cautious here though which could play to his advantage. If he can tuck in his chin, use his superior skills, to his advantage, and try to pace himself for a longer fight then I see him emerging victorious.
I’m going for Andrei Arlovski to win by decision.
Joey Villasenor Vs ‘Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza
Joey Villasenor heads into this bout on a four fight win-streak and with a split decision victory over Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos in his last Strikeforce outing.
This time he faces one of Strikeforce’s top 185lbers Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza who dismantled veteran fighter Matt Lindland in his Strikeforce debut late last year.
There’s certainly two opposing styles at play here. Villasenor has a little bit of everything to his game, but he’s primarily a striker and keeping this fight standing and utilizing his boxing will be his route to victory here.
‘Jacare’ is a jiu-jitsu phenom, undoubtedly one of the world’s very best, so it will come as no surprise that he will be looking to take Villasenor down. He’s got strong throws which will help him do just that, and if the fight stays standing for any reason there have been signs that his striking is improving.
Villasenor should hold a decent advantage in the striking, but Jacare will enjoy an overwhelming advantage should the fight hit the deck at any stage. The speed and fluidity of his jiu-jitsu is a sight to behold and I think we’ll have a chance to witness it in all it’s glory in this fight.
I’m picking Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza to win by submission in the second round.
Roger Gracie Vs Kevin Randleman
Part of the famous Gracie dynasty, Roger Gracie is considered one of the world’s elite Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, but his MMA career is limited to just two fights in 2006 and 2008, both of which he won by submission in the opening round.
His opponent Kevin Randleman is far more experienced logging over 30 MMA bouts in a career that spans as far back as 1996. Over the course of his career he’s fought many of the biggest names in the sport, but since 2003 he’s recorded just three wins in twelve fights.
Gracie’s stand-up game is still something of a mystery, though listening to the grappler talk about his stand-up abilities it’s clear he’s not planning on lighting up Randleman on his feet, he simply wants to “survive” long enough to get the fight to the floor ASAP.
If he succeeds in doing so then this fight should be over pretty quickly as Randleman is notorious for his lack of submission defense, with even Mirko Cro Cop notching up a rare submission win against him. Randleman’s best chance is to keep this fight standing, and in the past he’s shown he can pack a punch, but he’s struggled to do so in recent fights.
Randleman reportedly had a staph infection that almost kept him out of this fight, and to me that only further cements my belief that this is Gracie’s fight. I expect to see him tap the veteran as soon as the fight hits the floor and regain some pride for the Gracie clan after some poor showings in MMA competition recently.
I predict Roger Gracie will win by submission in the first round.
Antwain Britt Vs Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante
After defeating Scott Lighty in the prelims of his Strikeforce debut in December Antwain Britt (11-3) finds himself promoted to the main card. to face Rafael Cavalcante (8-2) who’s 1-1 in the promotion so far.
The expectation is for a stand-up battle here with Britt being a powerful, aggressive striker who’s often been able to rely on his hands getting the job done inside the distance.
Cavalcante is a muay thai proponent and trains with the world renowned Blackhouse team which includes many of Brazil’s finest fighters including Anderson Silva and the Nogueira’s. While not a devastating one punch striker, Cavalcante can wear down opponents with strikes, and has yet to leave a fight in the hands of the judges.
The interesting thing to note is that Britt has stated in his pre-fight interviews that he’s looking to use his wrestling to put Cavalcante on his back and pound him out. That’s a potentially risky strategy considering Feijao has a black belt in jiu-jitsu and Britt has lost by submission in the past.
Is Britt bluffing about going to the ground? It’s hard to say. It makes me a little uneasy but perhaps he can use his strength to overpower Feijao on the ground. Regardless, I’m going to stick with my original gut feeling which is that Britt is going to be too much for Cavalcante.
I’m taking Antwain Britt to win by TKO in Rd2.