Main Card:

Nick Diaz vs. Marius Zaromskis

Having conquered DREAM’s welterweight grand-prix last year, Marius Zaromskis (13-3) makes his debut in Strikeforce on Saturday night, and immediately has the opportunity to claim the Strikeforce welterweight title as well.

Standing in his way is a formidable opponent in Nick Diaz (20-7 1nc), who will be hoping to take the belt while extending his current unbeaten run to six fights.

If this fight stays in the striking realm then it promises to be an entertaining contrast of styles with Diaz’s using his patented ‘death by a hundred punches’ style to methodically wear down his opponent, while Zaromskis has, particularly with his leg kicks, the ability to end a fight with just one strike.

On the other hand if this fight should happen to go to the floor then Diaz holds an overwhelming advantage. Zaromskis will therefore be hoping that he can either lure the volatile Diaz into a stand-up war, or hope that his takedown defense will keep this fight where he needs it to be.

Prediction:

Diaz has a fondness for utlizing a pawing jab that I believe could leave him vulnerable to the trademark Zaromskis head kick, but the Stockton fighter is an experienced campaigner and will surely be well aware of the threat. Therefore I see him engaging in the stand-up with Zaromskis in the early rounds before taking the fight to the ground in the later stages to get the win inside the distance.

I’ll opt for Nick Diaz to win by submission in the 4th round.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos vs. Marloes Coenen

Having brushed aside Gina Carano in order to earn the woman’s lightweight title, Brazilian wrecking machine Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos (8-1) will now be hoping to do likewise to her next opponent, Marloes Coenen.

Coenen is a more experienced fighter though, competing since 2000 and compiling a 17-3 record along the way.  She looked impressive in her Strikeforce debut in December when she knocked down and then submitted Roxanne Modafferi, avenging a previous decision loss to her (video here).

Cyborg’s striking prowess is well documented, and she has the raw power and killer instinct necessary to end this fight inside the distance. At the same time Coenen is the more technical fighter, not only on the ground where most of her fights have been won, but also in the stand-up department.

That being said I believe her striking can be a little tentative at times (which proved to be her downfall against Erin Toughill earlier in her career), and against an aggressive opponent like Cyborg that could work against her. Therefore her best bet is to get this fight to the floor where her superior technique could pay dividends.

Prediction:

Getting the bigger, stronger Cyborg down to the ground, and keeping her their will be a tough task for Coenen, and so I believe this one will end up being decided on their feet. Though I think Coenen will show a cooler head under pressure than Gina Carano, I still believe Cyborg’s killer instinct will once again be the deciding factor here.

I’m going for Cristiane Santos by TKO in Rd 2


Robbie Lawler vs. Melvin Manhoef

As soon as Dutch knockout artist Melvin Manhoef (24-6-1) signed for Strikeforce it was inevitable that a match-up with the promotions other explosive middleweight striker Robbie Lawler (18-5 1nc) as going to take place, it was just a matter of when.

Manhoef will enter the cage fresh off a first round TKO victory over Kazuo Misaki during Dynamite!! 2009 at the turn of the year, while a recently canceled bout means Lawler hasn’t fought since his submission defeat at the hands of current Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields back in June of last year.

This is all geared up to be a stand-up war, and if that proves to be the case then it’s hard to imagine this one going the distance.  I think you have to give the striking edge to Manhoef.  In addition to his MMA career is also a K1 level kickboxer, and that shows in the way he puts his combinations together.   He also possesses the great power of the two, and it’s very rare that anyone who stands with him makes it out of the first round.

Lawler does have a solid chin though, and once he tastes Manhoef’s power that may help to keep him in the fight long enough to realize that he needs to use his wrestling to get this fight to the floor where Manhoef is a fish out of water.

Prediction:

Lawler loves to brawl though, and I think once the fists start flying he’ll fall into the trap of standing and banging with Manhoef, who will eventually land that one telling punch that leaves Lawler in a daze on the floor.

Melvin Manhoef to win by TKO in Rd 2.


Bobby Lashley vs. Wes Sims

A potential marquee new signing for Strikeforce, pro wrestler turned MMA fighter Bobby Lashley (4-0) has some pressure on his shoulders to perform well in his promotional debut against veteran competitor Wes Sims (22-12-1 2nc).

Lashley last fought in June, picking up a quick victory against Bob Sapp that told us little about how his skills are developing.  Meanwhile Sims attempt to return to the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 failed when he was easily defeated by Justin Wren.

Sims comes into this match with an immediate disadvantage in that he’s only had a week to prepare for this encounter.  He will however have the edge when it’s comes to experience, having fought in over 30 fights more than his opponent.

I don’t expect that to be the deciding factor though – Lashley’s wrestling will.  With Sims having a height and reach advantage I don’t expect Lashley to be looking to demonstrate his striking in this bout, but rather to take him down and unleash a fight ending ground n pound assault.

Prediction:

With a spot on the CBS card in April still a possibility for Lashley if he emerges unscathed he’ll want to end this fight as quickly and efficiently as possible, and I anticipate him doing just that.

Bobby Lashley to win by TKO in Rd 1.


Greg Nagy vs. Herschel Walker

At 47 years of age, former NFL star Herschel Walker makes his MMA debut at Strikeforce Miami against Greg Nagy who, with a record of just 1-1, is a relative novice to the fight game himself.

There’s no prior fights to review with Walker, but he has been training hard at the respected American Kickboxing Academy alongside a host of MMA stars in preparation for this fight.  Nagy’s last fight was in November where he came out on the wrong end of a decision to Francisco Navarro.

Despite his age I expect Walker to be in good shape for this fight, but beyond that we’ll just have to wait and see.  As far as his opponent goes, there’s a reason Nagy was picked as Walker’s first opponent – he’s not very good.

Prediction:

It’s difficult to give an accurate prediction on this one but I think Walker’s superior athleticism, preparation and  training partner should be enough to see him through his debut.

I’ll go for Herschel Walker to win by decision.


Jay Hieron vs. Joe Riggs (Undercard fight: Available to watch live on easportsmma.com)

Though we won’t be previewing the full undercard we can’t overlook one bout which could have easily featured on the main card between established fighters Jay Hieron and Joe Riggs.

Former IFL champ Hieron comes into this fight on a six fight win-streak, with his last win coming in his Strikeforce debut over Jesse Taylor last August.  Riggs is on a four fight unbeaten run of his own that includes a win over current UFC fighter Phil Baroni in his last Strikeforce outing back in June.

Prediction:

This should be one of the more closely fought contests of the evening, but I expect Hieron to have the edge wherever this fight ends up going, and to emerge with the victory.

I’m opting for Jay Hieron to win by decision.

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