With Strikeforce making it’s next CBS appearance tomorrow from the Bridgestone Center in Nashville, Tennessee it is prediction time once again, and we’ll jump right into things.
Jake Shields (c) vs. Dan Henderson:
Henderson is making his Strikeforce debut challenging the promotion’s middleweight champion Jake Shields, but has to be the favorite in this match up. Henderson has better hands, and the wrestling ability to nullify Shields’ normal game plan which relies on takedowns and working for submissions. I’m picking Henderson to walk out of the cage with the belt around him via second round TKO.
Gegard Mousasi (c) vs. Mohammed “King Mo” Lawal:
Most people are picking Mousasi in this one, and I’m inclined to agree with them. He has great hands, and a dangerous ground game. Should Lawal try to stand and trade with him, things will not go well for Lawal. However, Lawal is a strong wrestler and will likely try to use that to his advantage, which could extend the fight, but I doubt will be enough to earn him the victory. My pick is Mousasi via second round TKO.
Gilbert Melendez (c) vs. Shinya Aoki:
Melendez is ranked below Aoki in most, if not all MMA fighter rankings, but possesses the type of skill set that has given Aoki the most trouble in the past in that he has solid striking abilities, a strong wrestling base, and good submission defense. Aoki is known for his slick submissions, but has not displayed much striking ability in his career. I think Melendez will be able to avoid Aoki’s submissions and will be able to finish the fight via ground ‘n pound TKO in the third round.
Jason “Mayhem” Miller vs. Tim Stout:
In a bout that many expect to be one side, I expect the “Bully Beatdown” host Miller to finish the fight quickly with a first round submission.
Moderator Chrisl’s predictions:
Miller v. Stout-
I know very little about Stout and I thought that other than the takedown defense(albeit against Shields) he looked very tough in his last fight. I don’t see this one getting out of the first round as I see Mayhem getting it to the ground early after rocking Stout and then finishing with GNP or RNC dependant upon whether or not Stout gives up his back.
Melendez v. Aoki-
This fight intrigues me for the simple fact that I wonder about Aoki’s wardrobe. I could easily see him coming out dressed much like his former nemesis Sotiropolous was in his last fight to negate the disadvantage of not having his grappling pants. However, El Nino is one bad dude. I see Aoki struggling with this match-up as the rules do not favor his style and Melendez has proven to be a smothering fighter from the top position. The problem I see for Aoki is that his “pull, scoot, and hook” offense is at a disadvantage against a wrestler because it already puts you on the ground. The best way to beat most wrestlers is to stuff their take downs and force them to trade with you. Aoki’s stand up is not his strength though and Melendez has some power in his stand up. Aoki’s best bet will be to hook a sub during a transition/scramble situation, that said Melendez does have good submission defense. That said, I see this fight going the way of Melendez by decision via the GSP method.
Lawal vs Mousasi-
Lawal is one of those guys that I see becoming a major player in the 205 division one day. The thing is I don’t see that day being right now. His wrestling is top notch and as a fan of the Pokes, part of me wants him to win. The thing is Mousasi is also the real deal. He’s tough everywhere and his striking is top notch. If this fight was in two years though… I’d pick Lawal, I just think it’s too much too soon. I see Lawal coming out strong in the first and putting Mousasi endanger early. However, once Mousasi gets settled in, I see Mousasi shutting down Lawal’s takedowns and picking him apart on their feet where I see Mousasi eventually winning by TKO in the Championship rounds.
Hendo v. Shields-
This is one of those fights where I like both guys. However, I do have to pick a winner here. I think Hendo will be too much for Shields and in a lot of ways I see this going the way of Hendo’s fight with Palhares. I think Hendo’s wrestling will stifle Shields grappling and turn this into a brawl. The other thing is that Semtex rocked Shields, and he’s a welterweight, but Semtex didn’t keep it together and got taken down and finished. Well unless Shields has really improved his striking then he’d better be afraid of the big right hand of Hendo. I think Shields striking proves to be his achillies heel here as I think he’ll absorb a massive amount of punishment while working to get it to the ground. So eventually, I see Hendo finishing this one by KO as unless Shields has had the Nog’s trademark old chin implanted on his own.
Shields (c) vs Henderson
In many ways this is a mismatch. It’s not that I don’t think Shields is a bad fighter. Far from it, actually. He’s a very, very good one. The problem is that he’s been a welterweight for most of his career and now he’s going against someone who has been fighting at between 185 and 205 his entire career. I don’t see Shields winning, but I see him putting up the best fight he knows how to. Henderson in 2nd round.
Mousasi (c) vs Lawal
From what I’ve heard, Lawal is a very good striker. I don’t have Showtime and he’s never fought on a CBS card, so I’ve never seen him fight. Just thought I’d say that up front. I have seen Mousasi beat a couple people silly, though, and that’s good enough for me. It’s not just that I think Mousasi is a better striker, though. It’s that I’ve seen him take people down very easily and pound them. I’ve seen him knock guys out standing. I think he is kind of like Strikeforce’s GSP/A.Silva hybrid. I don’t see Lawal being able to beat him, but the Matt Serra Theory could make an appearance.
Melendez (c) vs Aoki
I think there is one outcome we can eliminate right off the top: Aoki will not win by ground and pound or KO. I’m not saying his stand up is weak, but I think Cyborg hits harder (wait, they’re almost in the same weight class…). I’ve been flogged by a wet noodle harder than Aoki’s strikes. Jokes aside, the one place Melendez won’t want to be is in Aoki’s guard. We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of the wacky submissions the man has pulled, from flying armbars to the gogoplata and I blogged about his last fight. I think Melendez will use the Lesnar/Mir 2 gameplan against Aoki: stand up and take him down, but only stay there if you are in a safe position. Melendez will win unless Aoki pulls something out.
Miller vs Stout
I have to say that I find Mayhem to be amusing. I think he’s genuinely insane, but the good kind, not the bad kind. I can’t think of a more appropriate nickname for him. The only reason I really care about this fight is because I want to see what kind of entrance he has. He said at the New Year’s show that Gomi upped the ante for entrances. I want to see what he has in store. CBS, you’d better air this fight and entrance or I will demand my money back. Oh, and I know nothing about Stout, so I’ll say Mayhem wins. As always, my predictions are guaranteed right or your money back.
Pictured: Henderson (left) and Shields