Strikeforce: Miami Preview and Predictions
After what seemed like the longest span without a major mixed martial arts event in years, our patience will be rewarded tonight when Strikeforce: Miami takes place on Showtime. There should be plenty of entertainment value as this card features two title fights, 2 very intriguing Strikeforce debuts and a barnburner between two seasoned strikers. I’m gonna go ahead and attempt to use my knowledge to pick the fights, but please please don’t put any money down on what I have to say. I just don’t want people losing paychecks on my conscience .
With that said, here are my fight previews and predictions.
Joe “Diesel” Riggs vs Jay “The Thoroughbred” Hieron: Riggs seems like he’s been around the MMA landscape forever, despite only being 27 years old. He’s a veteran of 44 MMA fights, including a title shot in the UFC in 2005. Hieron was supposed to fight Nick Diaz for the Strikeforce title last August but Nick never showed up to renew his licence in California and the championship bout had to be cancelled. It is presumed that Hieron will get a shot with a win, so he has a little extra motivation for getting a W. This fight is on the undercard, but will air live for free on the EA Sports website. Riggs has always been talented, but his gas tank has been his downfall time and time again. Look for him to tire as Hieron pushes the pace like he always does. Riggs has some heavy hands so you can never fully count him out of a fight, but I would not be surprised one bit if this ends in the 2nd or 3rd round simply from Hieron wearing him down.
Prediction: Hieron TKO round 3
Bobby Lashley vs Wes Sims: If they were trying to slowly build Lashley up in terms of competition, they sure are taking their freaking time. You last saw Sims getting punked by Justin Wren on The Ultimate Fighter season 10 and he was a last minute replacement after fights against Shane Del Rosario, Yohan Banks and Jimmy Ambriz fell through. Sims has only had just over a week to prepare for this fight and he certainly didn’t look in very good shape in the weigh ins yesterday. Lashley has been compared to Brock Lesnar due to his extensive college wrestling and WWE background, and I don’t think this one is going to be pretty.
Prediction: Lashley KO round 1
Herschel Walker vs Greg Nagy: This is the bout that will be drawing the most attention of the night. Walker, a former Heisman trophy winner, 2 time NFL pro bowler, 6th degree tae kwon do blackbelt, and 1992 Olympian, has more than enough credentials to be a fighter. The only thing people are concerned about is his age, as he turns 48 in about 4 weeks. As I said earlier, Walker is putting butts in seats and eyes on the TVs, which is great for the rest of the fighters on this card because they will get more exposure. His opponent Greg Nagy, is 1-1 thus far in his brief MMA career. Both fighters are lacking in experience and that is the biggest mystery when picking the winner. Obviously it will be good for Strikeforce if Walker can pick up a win here, but until we see how he can hold up in a cage for (potentially) 15 minutes, we just won’t know. I’m 100% guessing for this one, I just can’t pick against the freak athletic abilities of Walker.
Prediction: Walker decision
“Ruthless” Robby Lawler vs Melvin “No Mercy” Manhoef: This fight has massive fight of the night potential. Both fighters are capable of knocking each other out and both have been in several stand up wars in the past. I think I might be just as excited for this as I am for the title fights. Big props to Strikeforce matchmaking for actually letting this happen. Manhoef is a little more predisposed to kickboxing, while Lawler will likely focus on landing his heavy hands. Manhoef has an advantage in the standup, but he has never really worked on any other part of his game. If Lawler wants to win this as bad as I think he does, he may suck it up and try to take the fight to the ground. It all depends if he is too proud to do it or not, and I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Lawler keeps it standing just to “prove himself” ala Sean Sherk in recent fights. If that happens, I think Manhoef ends it in highlight reel fashion.
Prediction: Manhoef KO round 2
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos vs Marloes Coenen: There is no love lost between these two ladies, as evidenced by their incredibly intense staredown at the weigh ins yesterday. Santos is coming off the biggest win of her career, a last second first round stoppage against Gina Carano in August. Coenen has some very advanced submission skills, but has publicly stated that she wants to showcase her striking skills in this fight. I’m not sure if Cyborg is the best opponent to try something new against, Coenen is definitely at a strength disadvantage for this fight. Hell if you looked closely, I’m pretty sure Santos’s biceps have biceps. Outside of her submissions, Coenen’s biggest advantage is going to be her experience. She has been fighting MMA for almost 10 years now, and she should know all the little things that veterans pick up on over the years. That being said, I can’t pick against Santos. Her striking is incredibly powerful, and her ground game is top notch. I think Coenen will last longer than many expect but look for Cyborg to retain her women’s lightweight title.
Prediction: Santos via KO round 3
Nick Diaz vs Marius “The Whitemare” Zaromskis: These guys have completely opposite personalities if my conference call with them has any say. No one had a better 2009 than The Whitemare. He put together a 5-0 record en route to winning the Dream welterweight title. His streak included 3 straight head kick knockouts, drawing comparisons to the incredibly popular Mirko Cro Cop. There’s no one better to match him up for the Strikeforce welterweight title than Nick Diaz. Diaz is also riding a 5 fight win streak, with big victories over Scott Smith and Frank Shamrock in 2009. After what seems like forever, he is returning to his more natural 170 pound weight class. Diaz has some excellent boxing skills and despite being so dominant with his grappling and jiu jitsu skills, he loves to stand and trade with opponents. I’m not sure Zaromskis is the best guy to stand in the pocket against, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Diaz has surprised people with his fight strategies in the past and I’m not going to even try to guess what he’s thinking. I’ve watched a few of Zaromskis’s fights and I’m pretty confident in his striking abilities. Diaz loves to throw a soft jab to set up other strikes and if he tries that against the Whitemare, he is going to get countered HARD. The winner of this fight will be determined by Nick Diaz’s gameplan. If he tries to keep it standing, I don’t think he can win it. If he takes it to the ground, he should be able to end it via submission or ground and pound. I’ve got a gut feeling that Diaz is going to try to keep it standing early, but once he tastes Zaromskis’s power, he’ll smartly get it to the ground and end it there somehow.
Prediction: Diaz via submission round 4