Strikeforce: Lawler vs Shields – Picks and Betting Odds
Jake Shields (EV, 5Dimes) vs Robbie Lawler (-115, Sportsbook)
Jake Shields was the EliteXC welterweight champion with great wrestling and sick jujitsu. He is on just about everybody’s top 10 welterweight lists and is coming in to fight Lawler at a 182lbs catch-weight. He is on a current 11 fight win streak and is moving up to middleweight due to the fact that he can’t find much welterweight competition outside of the UFC. He has a pretty straight forward game plan, get to the ground and submit Lawler, and don’t get knocked out in the process.
Lawler was the EliteXC middleweight champion. He is an amazing striker that puts people to sleep left and right, even getting a TKO over the notoriously hard to kill Scott Smith. He is ranked in the top 10 middleweights in the world on most lists and has notable wins over Murilo “Ninja” Rua and Frank Trigg. He trains with Matt Hughes out of the HIT Squad, which leads me to believe that he has a good takedown defense, which he was able to use against Trigg after the first round of their fight.
This former champion verse former champion fight is a classic wrestler verse striker contest. The real question will be whether Shields can survive the heavy hands of Lawler and get him to the ground, and whether Lawler’s takedown defense will allow him to stay up and put Shields to sleep. That makes this fight very hard to call, and there is the assumption that Lawler will have the size advantage.
If Lawler goes in and focuses on the sprawl and clinch and uses his size to wear Shields out, he could very well take this fight by KO or TKO in the later rounds. He could also get a quick knockout on the opening feeling out process. I have to assume he has been training his wrestling very heavily with Matt Hughes, so I think he will be able to keep it standing. I also get nervous about guys jumping up to higher weight classes, especially at welterweight and below. The trend is to move down to gain the strength advantage, not up (Anderson Silva being the outlier).
Final Prediction: Lawler up to -125 risking 1 unit to win .75 units. I would take Shields if he got up to +130, but I give the edge to Lawler and expect this to play out like the Trigg fight. He survives the initial onslaught, connects with a few big punches, puts Shields away, and sends him back to his proper weight division. Actually, he may not even have to survive any kind of onslaught, but uses his size to control Shields and then connects with one of those heavy hands. If you are fairly risk averse, I’d just skip this fight. BET NOW!
Joe Riggs (-115, Sportsbook) vs Phil Baroni (-105, 5Dimes)
This is one fight that I am staying far away from. Both of these guys have been plagued with problems in the past and can be very inconsistent. With Rigg’s nagging health injuries and Baroni’s inability to put a good win streak together there is no value here. They both hit hard and either one could knock the other one out.
Final Prediction: I’m rooting for Baroni but I’d let this one pass.
Nick Diaz (-315, Bodog) vs Scott Smith (+260, BetCRIS)
This should be an interesting bout since both guys are coming off impressive wins. Nick Diaz out boxed Frank Shamrock, and Scott Smith came back from a beating to KO Benji Radach. I have a feeling that this fight will stay standing as Nick Diaz has really fallen in love with boxing and hasn’t had a submission win since August of 2006. I would agree that Nick has a huge edge on the ground and the lines reflect that, but I have a feeling that he is out to prove something and will stand with Smith.
Now Smith is an intriguing fighter. He can take huge amounts of punishment, be losing a fight, and then just wade in and snap the victory away with a KO. He has been hit by guys with a lot more power than Diaz, and although Diaz has much more technical striking, Scott will negate that by just coming forward until he connects. Nick likes to use his jab, angles, and foot work, but I doubt Smith is going to be kept at bay. Smith has knockout power, Diaz does not.
Final Prediction: The lines are a little off in my opinion. With Smith’s ability to reach into his back pocket and pull a win out of nowhere, I’m going with 2 units on Smith at +260 to win 5.2 units and may put a little more on him if he goes up farther. BET NOW!
Kevin Randleman (+105, 5Dimes) vs Mike Whitehead (-115, Sportsbook)
Kevin Randleman is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, two time Division I NCAA Champion for Ohio State University, and Pride staple. He used to train with Mark Coleman out of team Hammer House, but has recently switched to Randy Couture’s gym Extreme Couture. He hasn’t fought in about a year and has only won 2 of his last 7 fights. He can be very explosive with his striking and has phenomenal takedowns and slams, but is very weak in his ground game. How the ring rust, new gym, and poor past performance is going to affect him in this fight is hard to calculate.
Mike Whitehead is a 3 time All American Wrestler and Abu Dhabi qualifier. He has put together a very impressive record winning 14 of his last 15 fights. His losses have come from high quality opponents like Renato Sobral, Keith Jardine, Brandon Vera, and Tim Silvia. He use to train with Extreme Couture, but now trains out of Wanderlei Silva’s gym in Las Vegas.
This fight has a lot of unknown elements. Kevin Randleman was an absolute beast several years ago, but it seems the sport has really passed him by. The move to Extreme Couture could revitalize his game; it is just too early to know. I believe Mike has all of the tools to beat Randleman, but I’m still a little leery. He has amassed an impressive record; however, they were on smaller shows and not exactly against top competition. They are both decorated wrestlers, Mike has by far the better ground game, but I’d give Randleman the edge on the feet due to his explosive striking.
Final Prediction: This could go either way, but I’m leaning toward Whitehead. Due to all of the unknowns in this fight, I would stay away from it. However, I wouldn’t fault a small bet on Whitehead since there seems to be more negatives surrounding Randleman. Just don’t go higher than -120. BET NOW!
Andrei Arlovski (-370, BetCRIS) vs Brett Rogers (+300, 5Dimes)
This is really a matchup between Arlovski’s experience, technical striking, and well roundedness versus his perceived “glass jaw” coupled with Roger’s punching power.
Brett Rogers is a heavy striker with a perfect record. However, he has not faced top level guys and his ground game is suspect. He has had some spectacular KO’s, including the devastating decapitation of Josh Thompson in EliteXC. So all we know is that he can put guys to sleep with one shot.
Andrei Arlovski is a former UFC champion whose only losses have come from top level guys like Tim Silvia, Pedro Rizzo, Ricco Rodriguez, and God Incarnate Himself, Fedor Emelianenko. However, 5 of his 6 losses have come from KO’s (or practically KO with Silvia). This is where he has gotten the reputation of having a “glass jaw.” That being said, he has banged with a lot of heavy handed guys like Paul Buentello, Wesley Correira, and Ben Rothwell, and come out the victor. In addition, he has been training his boxing with the great Freddie Roach for a little while now, and the effects could be seen in his initial control of the Fedor fight before his infamous flying knee and subsequent unconsciousness. His striking is crisp, technical, and powerful. Plus, he has a decorated Sambo background, so his ground game is superb. The man is simply a great all-round fighter.
Arlovski should be able to handle Rogers pretty effectively. I just don’t see a way for Rogers to get through Arlovski’s technical standup game. Andre can also take it to the ground and submit him if necessary. That being said, there is a slight pattern with Arlovski’s losses, they seem to come in pairs. This may just be a mental thing, but it makes me pause. A guy can have all the talent and skill in the world, but without a good mental state come fight time, all of that is worthless.
Final prediction: Take Arlovski for up to about -375 risking 2 units to win .53 units. Due to the loss trend and that always present puncher’s chance, take Rogers if he passes +400 for 1 unit to win 4 units. BET NOW!
Mike Kyle (+305, 5 Dimes) vs Rafael Cavalcante (-370, BetCRIS)
Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante is a dangerous Muy Thai striker that trains out of the Team Nogueira camp that includes both the Nogueira brothers and Anderson Silva. He has shown to be very dangerous in the clinch with some wicked knees. However, his boxing still needs a little work since he doesn’t really throw combinations, but he is very accurate and is surely improving since working with such a great team. He really emulates Anderson Silva’s style and it is very hard to bet against Silva’s protégé.
Mike Kyle is a veteran of the cage that has been around for a while. He is a heavy striker, but has had difficulty lately getting a win streak going. He has been put to sleep by the likes of Justin Eilers and Paul Buentello. His only positive in this fight is that he is a big light heavy and should be the larger guy.
This fight should go Feijao’s way. He has the better standup, an edge on the ground, and good takedown defense. Mike is not going to want to stand, clinch, or take down Feijao. Mike is really out classed in every way in this fight.
Final Prediction: Feijao up to -400 risking 2 units to win .5 units. BET NOW!