Posted by Tommy Hackett on August 21st, 2010
Pictured: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza weighs in for StrikeForce: Houston yesterday. Photo by Esther Lin courtesy of StrikeForce. Total-MMA staff agrees on the result of every bout but Souza vs. Tim Kennedy!
It hasn’t been all smiles under the warm California sun for our friends at StrikeForce. The San Jose-based promotion has taken a few hits in its recent attempts to go “international” — among them, the defection of middleweight champion Jake Shields, an embarassing showing on national TV, and most recently, injury issues with their newly crowned champion Fabricio Werdum. But as the lineup for tonight’s StrikeForce: Houston show illustrates, they still have the roster to put on a strong show.
A light heavyweight title bout which would be a good offering on any ZUFFA show headlines, while the absence of Shields makes way for two of the game’s grittiest to take center stage, to contest the vacated middleweight crown. A solid undercard airs in a webcast on Sherdog.com, including the sublime jiu-jitsu of world champion Andre Galvao against old favorite Jorge Patino.
So maybe sometimes things fall apart… but they still end up okay, at least for this viewer who just wants to catch some good MMA action on a Saturday night!
Tonight’s show is handicapped by Jacob Lawton (JL) and me (TH).
As always, our predicitions are for entertainment purposes only.
Main Event Light Heavyweight Title Bout: Muhammed Lawal (7-0) vs. Rafael Cavalcante (9-2)
JL: One of the many Light Heavyweight super prospects continues on his road to the big leagues as ‘King Mo’ takes on ‘Feijao’ for the Strikeforce strap. Lawal has 5 T/KO’s in his perfect career, while none of Cavalcante’s fights have gone the distance. This would suggest, therefore, that we are in for an exciting night. But I don’t think we are. Lawal is a throwback to Dan Severn, a proper, old school lay-and-pray style wrestler, with a dynamic shot but not many tools for finishing the fight. Across the cage, Cavalcante is a dangerous Muay-Thai striker, but he has little to offer from his back. And even if he did, which Lawal’s last opponent Gegard Mousasi certainly did, would Lawal’s stifling top game give him the chance to use it? I expect five rounds of wrestle-fest en route to a Lawal unanimous decision victory.
TH: Yeah, you pretty much said it all. ‘Feijao’ isn’t bad off his back but I see another wrestling clinic for the vastly underappreciated ‘King Mo’ leading to a unanimous decision.
Total-MMA PICK: LAWAL.
Co Main Event Middleweight Title Bout: Ronaldo Souza (12-2) vs. Tim Kennedy (12-2)
JL: Two fighters with identical records face off for the vacant Strikeforce championship, empty after Jake Shields’ defection to the UFC. ‘Jacare’ is a high calibre jiu-jitsu black belt with more submissions up his sleeve than most people have hairs on their heads, while Kennedy is a rugged striker with workmanlike wrestling and some solid jiu-jitsu to round out his skill set. Both men are unbeaten in their Strikeforce careers, and neither has lost for the best part of two years. However, the fight comes down to whether ‘Jacare’ can take it to the ground. He has a good collection of trips and has been known to knock people down with strikes in the past, but I think the wily Kennedy will have an answer to everything ‘Jacare’ attempts on the feet, and will sprawl and brawl his way to a TKO in the championship rounds.
TH: I’m excited for this one — it’s as good (and even) a middleweight pairing as we’ll see for the remainder of this year, unless Georges St. Pierre decides to move up. While it’s tough to pick against Kennedy and his all-around skills combined with tireless work ethic, I can’t help but think ‘Jacare’ will eventually get him where he wants him. I look for some tough times early as Kennedy’s improved standup carries the first two rounds, but Souza to find an armbar submission in the third, off a scramble.
Total-MMA pick : SPLIT.
Lightweight Bout: KJ Noons (9-2) vs. Jorge Gurgel (13-6)
JL: This fight just looks like a recipe for disaster for Gurgel. Here we have a fighter who has a brilliant jiu-jitsu game that can perplex most of the division’s high fliers, but he refuses to use it, instead choosing to stand and trade against all comers. Against the former boxer Noons, this is just asking to have your button pressed and your eyes rolled back. If Gurgel can’t beat Billy Evangelista, as in his last fight, I can’t see him finding a way passed Noons, who has not lost since 2007. Gurgel has never been stopped on strikes and Noons is not a particularly powerful puncher, so watch him outpoint his opponent to take a dominant decision, and hopefully push him on his way to a Lightweight title bout against Gil Melendez in the near future.
TH: Noons boxes beautifully when he’s on, and he’s still a capable enough fighter when he’s not. I agree that Gurgel’s penchant for standup can cost him here. Look for Noons to use his reach advantage to earn the nod.
Total-MMA pick: NOONS.
Heavyweight Bout: Bobby Lashley (5-0) vs. Chad Griggs (8-1)
JL: Once again the overriding reaction to hearing a Bobby Lashley opponent announced was a unanimous ‘who?’ The pro wrestler turned pro fighter has been decidedly under whelming in his career thus far, just about defeating career journeymen for the past two years. It’s worrying to think that Griggs, an IFL vet making his first appearance at the top of the game — and who hasn’t fought in 16 months — is probably the stiffest competition Lashley has faced. Not stiff enough, though. Grigg has some powerful strikes and ground and pound, but I don’t think Lashley will give him the chance to use them – the ex-WWE superstar Lashley will be able to show off his ever improving submission game with a round two tap out on the cards.
TH: You need stuff like this to round out a show, right? It’s a showcase bout for Lashley, who takes this in a round via ground-and-pound.
Total-MMA pick: Lashley
The Sherdog-aired undercard includes Andre Galvao, who just published a fantastic book of BJJ drills that Tommy recommends, and Daniel Cormier, a prospect from AKA that Jacob recommends keeping an eye on. As always, enjoy the fights!