Tomorrow night Strikeforce bring two title fights to Houston for another big night of mixed martial arts. Take a look below as we break down the main card and give our predictions.
‘King Mo’ Lawal Vs Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante
On Saturday night King Mo will aim to defend his Strikeforce light-heavyweight title for the first time and keep his unbeaten 7-0 record intact when he faces Feijao who is fresh off a KO win over Antwain Britt in May.
In an ideal world Feijao would not have been next in line for a title-shot, but with Strikeforce’s options at 205lbs somewhat limited and Lawal reluctant to face his friend and training partner Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral, it’s the best the promotion could do.
That’s not to say the Brazilian isn’t a good fighter, but the jury is still out on whether he’s a great one. What he does bring to the table is dangerous muay thai striking, and that’s enabled him to rack up a string of KO and TKO victories throughout his 9-2 career to date. He also has a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but so far that aspect of his game has remains relatively untested in the cage.
King Mo is unlikely to be overly intimidated by Feijao’s skill-set however given that last time out he defeated Gegard Mousasi who was also dangerous on his feet and on his back and has a far better record than the Brazilian. King Mo’s key to success that night was his explosive takedowns and dominating top control, and that’s something we’re likely to see on display again tomorrow night.
What will be interesting is to see how the rest of King Mo’s game is developing. His striking is still a work in progress but he’s demonstrated KO power in previous fights and he may wish to showcase that if he gets a chance. Cardio was a significant issue in his five round fight with Mousasi so I’d expect him to have addressed that in preparation for this fight.
Prediction: Mousasi couldn’t stop King Mo’s takedowns, or produce any real submission threat under his stifling top control and I don’t see Feijao getting on any better. Whether Lawal will look to mix things up a little more than his last fight or not, eventually he’ll return to his wrestling roots and go one better this time round by comfortably easing to victory inside the distance.
King Mo to win by TKO in Rd3
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza Vs Tim Kennedy
For me the Jacare Vs Tim Kennedy scrap for the vacant middleweight belt is the most intriguing one on the main card. Both men have been doing well since joining Strikeforce, with Jacare notching up two wins to take his record to 12-2 (1nc), while Kennedy has built up a four fight win streak moving his to an almost identical 12-2.
Jacare’s main strength is no secret given that he’s one of the most highly decorated and BJJ proponents ever to grace the sport of MMA. His ground work is a beautiful thing to behold, and is backed up with some slick takedowns thanks to his judo background. He’s also shown signs of improving his striking recently and looks more comfortable exchanging on his feet which is a worrying sign for his opponents.
Meanwhile, Kennedy had developed into a well rounded fighter and is now enjoying the benefit of training full-time for the past nine months after previously juggling his fighting and military careers. Unlike Jacare he doesn’t possess an elite skill in any one department, but he has a nice balance of boxing and wrestling that should test his opponent, while he’s also competent in jiu-jitsu and has good cardio.
Prediction: I’m leaning towards Jacare here, though I have slight reservations due to the fact that he made heavy weather of his last victory over Joey Villasenor. I think his improved striking will allow him to be competitive on the feet against Kennedy though, and he’ll be too much for him to deal with on the floor.
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza to win by submission in Rd3
KJ Noons Vs Jorge Gurgel
After spending some time out in the MMA wilderness, former Elite XC champion KJ Noons has returned with two solid victories so far in 2010, extending his unbeaten run to five fights. George Gurgel’s form on the other hand has been disappointing, with just one win in his last four fights, though his solitary win was against the same fighter Noons just defeated, Conor Huen.
There’s no doubt that Noons will look to keep this fight standing where he is a dangerous prospect for anyone at 155lbs with his ability to mix-up his pro-boxing experience with more versatile muay thai strikes effortlessly.
If he follows his standard M.O then Gurgel will be only to happy to stand and trade with Noons, despite the fact that he is a highly regarded BJJ practitioner. While he undoubtedly has a sturdy chin he more often than not comes out second best in such battles.
The word from Gurgel is that this time round he will learn from his past mistakes and look to take this fight to the mat, but it wouldn’t be the first time he’s said that and then veered of-course once he steps into the cage.
Prediction: If this fight stays standing then it’s Noons fight to win as he’s too slick and technical for Gurgel to deal with. If Gurgel stays true to his word and does look to turn this into a fight on the floor then that certainly swings things in his favor, but you wouldn’t want to bet on it.
KJ Noons to win by decision
Bobby Lashley Vs Chad Griggs
Former pro-wrestler Bobby Lashley’s latest serving of mediocre opposition comes in the shape of Chad Griggs as he looks to string together his sixth consecutive win.
So far Lashley has shied away from showing much of his bag of tricks other than his wrestling game. In truth, he’s simply not needed to since he’s tended to steamroller his opponents early in the fight. According to the fighter himself he’s looking to showcase his improving stand-up game in this encounter, so that is at least something to keep an eye out for.
As for Griggs, he brings a decent enough record of 8-1 to the cage though mainly against weak and inexperienced opposition. It’s important to stress that Griggs has only fought once in the last two and a half years and was aiming to reappear at light-heavyweight before being offered this fight. That tells you all you need to know about Strikeforce’s matchmaking when it comes to Lashley.
Prediction: Hopefully Griggs can give Lashley a real fight and take him into the later rounds, but in the end I can’t see anything other than another win for the wrestler here.
Bobby Lashley to win by TKO in Rd2