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Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields Preview and Predictions

If Saturday night’s Strikeforce card featuring big name fighters such as Robbie Lawler, Andrei Arlovski and Nick Diaz is a sign of what’s to come, the future seems to look brighter than ever for the organization.

Strikeforce is showing how it should be done as they consistently put on fights that the fans want to see. Great fights between top athletes combined with a crisp, fresh production that lives and breathes are making Strikeforce a force to be reckoned with in the world of mixed martial arts sooner rather than later.

Come along as I dive into what should be a spectacular main card of fights on Showtime this Saturday evening.

Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Shields

Every now and then there comes along a fight that puts fans and insiders alike in a position where they would rather not pick a winner in fear of being proven wrong on fight night. Lawler vs. Shields is without a doubt another one of those nearly imposable to pick battles.

“Classic striker vs. grappler match-up”, we’ve heard the phrase uttered what seems like a billion times but it must be mentioned when discussing this fight. Let’s be real for a moment, Lawler is not going to reverse triangle Shields and Shields isn’t going to knock Lawler’s block off with a well timed 1-2. Sure, stranger things have happened in MMA. It wasn’t that long ago when Nick Diaz, a close friend and longtime training partner to Shields, schooled the more highly regarded striker in Lawler before dropping him to the canvas for the TKO victory, it’s just not happening in this fight. Either Lawler tucks Shields in early, Shields submits Lawler……..or Shields grinds out a lackluster decision, but that’s just the way this bout goes down.

Shields is a complete stud on the ground. His wrestling combined with his submission game make him one of the best welterweight’s in the world. However, Lawler is a middleweight now. It’s a well known fact that Lawler spent a good amount of his career at the 170 mark, but that was years ago and Lawler has been wreaking havoc since moving up to middleweight. He’s going to be the naturally larger man. Combine that with his years of training alongside wrestlers such as Matt Hughes and you have a guy with dynamite in his hands that’s going to be very, very hard to drag to the ground. Especially with those shins and knuckles that Jake will have to deal with if wants to get close enough to Lawler to engage in a takedown attempt.

Lawler busts Shields up throughout the first round and seals the deal midway through the second. I feel like he’s going to drop Shields with a hard combination of punches and pounce on him with a shower of leather for the TKO.

Nick Diaz vs. Scott Smith

I’d be shocked if this fight doesn’t end up as the fight of the night. Arlovski vs. Rogers and Baroni vs. Riggs have a chance, but realistically, both of those fights have a much greater chance of ending early. I feel pretty confident that the grit of both Diaz and Smith will push this fight out of the opening round.

If this ended up being a stand up war it would be hard to call the winner. Diaz and Smith both have jaws that seem to have been formed from concrete and neither seems to have an edge in the boxing department. Smith is the heavier banger of the two, but Diaz is just a little more technical with his fists.

Without a doubt the number one way Smith can win this fight is going to be standing up. Even though the last time Diaz submitted someone was in 2006, the Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt would be foolish not to exercise his biggest advantage over Smith. Diaz may be a lot of things, brash, outspoken, a stoner, but he’s far from foolish. Especially when it comes to handling his business which is capitalizing on being one of the most complete mixed martial artists in the game today.

Expect fireworks in the beginning to last just long enough for Diaz to set up an inevitable takedown sometime in the second. Once on the mat Diaz should be able to have his way with the heavy handed Smith, submitting him with a rear-naked choke, keylock, whatever he wants really.

Andrei Arlovski vs. Brett Rogers

I think it’s been awfully easily for a lot of people to write Rogers off in this fight because Arlovski is….well, Andrei Arlovski, former UFC heavyweight champion of the world, while Rogers is the 6’4″, 265 pound version of Clubber Lang that quit his job at the tire shop to focus on sending people to the emergency room as a full time profession.

The thing about Rogers is that it’s hard for me to write a guy like him off when I’ve never even seen him wobbled by a punch and he has been absolutely overwhelming everyone he’s faced. Granted, he’s never faced a heavyweight as talented and dangerous as Arlovski before, not even close, but what if Rogers is the real deal? What if? I’m not saying that he’s going to be technically superior to Arlovski in the boxing department, he won’t. Andrei has been training with Freddie Roach for some time now and his hands could easily be considered the best in the heavyweight division right now. What I’m saying is what if Rogers can put up with the punishment long enough to get in a couple solid shots of his own? I have no doubts in my mind that if Rogers connects flush on Arlovski’s chin that will be all she wrote. Arlovski is a man-beast, a physical specimen, but his sometimes suspect chin has plagued him from the very beginning of his career.

Arlovski’s best chance at victory, in my opinion, would be to just beat Rogers up from the outside. I mean really bust his face up with superior striking over a couple of rounds before closing in for the TKO. That would be the safe pick in this fight.

Well, life isn’t safe. Rogers is going to shock a whole lot of people when he staggers the favored Arlovski sometime in the first or second round. If he so much as wobbles the dangerous Belarusian for a split second, they will need the smelling salts to bring Arlovski back to. There’s no denying that Rogers will finish you if he has you hurt. There’s no coming back from being clipped by “Grim”. Just to make things interesting, Rogers by knockout. Deal with it.

Kevin Randleman vs. Mike Whitehead

I hate having to predict this fight. The one thing that I will predict about this fight is that I have a strange feeling that this may end up being one of the most….lackluster fights of the bout. I just feel as if the styles of these two may turn this into a chess match with both men jockeying for position and top control for fifteen straight minutes.

Or…they could come out gunning for the fences and turn this fight into the little fight that could on the live broadcast. Randleman’s inactivity and losing streak before his time off have me very tentative to choose him over Whitehead. Whitehead, on the other hand, has been active, knocking out and submitting guys consistently over the last few years.

Whitehead is going to be just a little more complete with his game and that is going to be the difference in this one. Whitehead will find a way to submit Randleman sometime in the second round.

Phil Baroni vs. Joe Riggs

This fight makes it out of the second round and it’s a shoe in for the most exciting fight of the night. Both of these guys are known for knocking their opponents senseless and neither fighter is a stranger to being knocked out themselves. Translation, someone’s going to sleep.

Aside from both of the previously mentioned similarities, both men are strong wrestlers and both are competent at applying and avoiding submissions. I don’t think we’re going to have to worry too much about which fighter has the more technical Jiu-Jitsu as most people expect for these two to do the Rock’Em Sock’Em Robot dance for as long as it lasts.

Who wins this fight? Whoever lands that big bomb first. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Riggs pulls the rabbit out of his hat in the form of a big left hand sometime in the second round. This one will be fireworks.

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