Posted by Jacob Lawton on July 30th, 2011
Pictured: The poster for tonight’s event.
As Ajit promised here, here’s some more of the Total-MMA staff with their picks ahead of tonight’s fights in Hoffman Estate, IL, which goes out live on Showtime. And it’s a strong show too - lead off by a clash of PRIDE legends; as former Heavyweight champ and the man frequently mentioned as the MMA GOAT, Fedor Emelianenko, tries to get back to winning ways against the only man to hold titles in two weight classes at the same time in a major MMA promotion, Dan Henderson. But the fun doesn’t stop there folks, as a pair of Welterweight title eliminators featuring wild sluggers Paul Daley and Scott Smith pitted against hot prospects Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine round out the undercard — which also sees top Middleweights Robbie Lawler and Tim Kennedy clash. And to top it all off we have a women’s Welterweight (135lbs) title fight between Golden Glory’s Marloes Coenen and the lovely Miesha Tate.
Providing picks are myself (JL) and our erstwhile editor Tommy Hackett (TH). Remember this is all in the spirit of fun, our picks are by no means surety that anything like what we predict will go down. Remember that before you bet the kid’s college fund.
Main Event Heavyweight Bout: Fedor Emelianenko (31-3, 1NC) vs. Dan Henderson (27-8)
TH: It’s always a pleasure to watch two MMA legends fight it out — perhaps MMA’s greatest ever in Fedor and a perennial contender in Henderson. At least, it should be a pleasure. But the saddest fights to write about are the ones where we must ask who has what left — especially when you’re approaching 40 and finding yourself spending more money on vitamins than beer on any given month. True story.
It’s no secret I’m a longtime fan of Fedor’s quietly respectful approach to the fight game, as I described in this article among others, but he’s looked listless in recent years, from his poor performance in the guard of Fabricio Werdum to his body language prior to the Antonio Silva debacle. His only motivation seems to help the M-1 brand along, and it just hasn’t been enough lately. Henderson on the other hand still looks confident, still moves well and can still threaten with a good right hand. I hope I’m wrong — but I’m picking Henderson to out-quick and outwork Fedor to earn the upset decision.
JL: I must agree with Tommy here - if you just watch the fight and forget that these are two of the best Mixed Martial Artists of the 00’s, then this’ll be great fun, but remember who they are and how far they - particularly Fedor- have fallen, then this becomes a little less fun. Nevertheless, we have two very evenly matched fighters here - both have backgrounds in traditional grappling - Hendo in Greco-Roman, Fedor in Judo and Sambo - who prefer to strike, relying on their iron chins and rocket-powered hands. While Fedor hasn’t looked particularly great lately, in this fight he has the size advantage and has a weighed in a good 10lbs down on his normal, chubby haunt of 233lbs. He looked in shape and fired up at the weigh ins, while Hendo, as he has for the past few years, appears to be taking a relatively laid back approach to proceedings. For that reason I see the bigger Fedor outworking Henderson after Hendo gases early (as he did against Jake Shields) and taking the decision.
TOTAL-MMA PICK: SPLIT, 1-1
Co-Main Event Women’s Welterweight Title Bout: Marloes Coenen (19-4) vs. Miesha Tate (11-2)
TH: This is a great match — basically, even money, and should be a great exhibition of skill from both. Holland’s Coenan has an advantage on the feet, but only by a little, and is very dangerous on the ground but I can see the American Tate being able to control with her wrestling more often than not. As in the main event, I see this going the distance in favor of the fighter with roots in Washington State. (Yep, true story. Henderson is from California, but he’s of Walla Walla Indian descent, so I say we can claim him. Bow down to Washington!) Tate by decision.
JL: I think Tommy said it all there - minus his rambling about some dull sounding place called Washington ( ) - Tate has the wrestling and submission defense to control the fight and the cardio to keep doing so. I’ll also take Tate via a dominant decision.
TOTAL-MMA PICKS: TATE, 2-0
Middleweight Bout: Robbie Lawler (18-7, 1NC) vs. Tim Kennedy (13-3)
TH: This month’s Muscle and Fitness Magazine cover boy Tim Kennedy (yep, like I said, got to take those vitamins — click here to check him out, true story) is just a shade better all-around than the opposition here. Expect him to run about even in the standup until getting Lawler down and beating him up. Robbie Lawler has brawled his way to victory over MMA’s second tier for the last ten years or so, but has come up short against the best. I see Kennedy among the best, so this pick isn’t so difficult. Kennedy by Mata-Leão, round three.
JL: Ah, Robbie Lawler. The guy is a great battler, no doubt, but the sad fact is that he’s also a perpetual dissapointment - hid potential was off the charts, and yet he’s become nothing more than a veteran brawler who gives his all but very rarely shows the world-beating quality we saw glimpses of in his early career. His opponent, former Green Beret Tim Kennedy is the opposite - he’s never a guy that’s looked like a top, top fighter, but through hard graft and determination he’s secured a berth in most MMA sites’ Top 15 rankings, and in some Top 10’s. And his fine all-round game will prove too much for another fighter here as he marches on towards a rematch with Strikeforce Middleweight kingpin Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. I can’t see him finishing the undeniably tough Lawler, so I’ll take Kennedy via decision.
TOTAL-MMA PICKS: KENNEDY, 2-0
Welterweight Bout: Paul Daley (27-10) vs. Tyron Woodley (8-0)
TH: I don’t like this fight. Woodley has just good enough wrestling to keep this fight where he wants it, but unlike Miesha Tate, he won’t stay busy enough from the top to keep the fight interesting. Unlike Merloes Coenen, Daley isn’t terribly skilled off his back and that’s where he’ll be here. So, the fans will find themselves bored while Woodley will finds a decision victory.
JL: What Tommy says is true - this could become a grinding decision victory, but it’s my turn for patriotism to take hold - many, many people have predicted that they will be able to control Paul Daley only to be decapitated by the lethal left hook which so few people see coming. After two rounds of dominating top control, look for former collegiate standout Woodley to get cocky and get knocked into the middle of next month as Daley takes the big KO victory.
TOTAL-MMA PICKS: SPLIT, 1-1
Welterweight Bout: Scott Smith (17-8, 1NC) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (10-3)
TH: Smith will always have a place in the hearts of MMA fans, having recorded some memorable knockouts, particularly that come-from-behind win against Pete Sell. It was much more dramatic, and a better example of technique, than Cheik Kongo’s recent awkward win over Pat Barry, to which it’s often compared. He’s not a guy I feel comfortable picking against a rising prospect like Saffiedine. Without need to worry about takedowns as against Tyrone Woodley — I like Saffiedine to dictate the pace and outwork Smith on the feet. Saffiedine, T/KO 2.
JL: Belgium’s premier Mixed Martial Artist tries to recover his career here after dropping a decision to Woodley earlier this year against veteran brawler Smith. Unfortunately for Smith, Saffiedine is just a better, more well rounded version of him - his background in the unusual karate discipline of Shihaishinkai that adds Judo’s throws and basic ground fighting to original karate techniques and is a superb background for any MMA fighter. Look for Saffiedine to outfight and outwork the older Smith en route to a third round submission victory.
TOTAl-MMA PICKS: SAFFIEDINE, 2-0
The undercard is sadly unavailable for live viewing this time around, though it’ll be intersting to hear how Lightweight veteran Gesias Cavalcante fares as he takes on prospect Bobby Green. As always, enjoy the fights.