FiveOuncesofPain.com Editor-In-Chief Cory Brady along with our very own David Andrest are back once again to break down this weekend’s “Strikeforce: Evolution” card, and believe it or not we actually have a legitimate edition of “Trading Punches” as opposed to “Trading Compliments” like many of our recent agreeable editions of the series have been.
“Strikeforce: Evolution” will be going down tomorrow evening, December 19, from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, featuring an anticipated slugfest between Cung Le and Scott Smith as the headliner, a lightweight championship rematch pitting Josh Thomson up against Gilbert Melendez, and much more.
So come along as Brady tells Andrest exactly where he went wrong with his predictions, and as always, please feel free to put up or shut up by posting a quick set of your own picks in the comment section below.
CUNG LE VS. SCOTT SMITH
David Andrest: Scott Smith is one of my favorite fighters to watch. While best known by many for his spectacular highlight knockout of Pete Sell in the UFC, Smith is no stranger to the “lucky” punch. When you have grasped victory from the jaws of defeat as many times as Smith, luck has little to do with it. Cung Le is coming off nearly a two year lay off, and while his record remains unblemished, father time, and inactivity are not a fighters best friend. I think we will see Cung Le beat on Smith for the better portion of three rounds. Smith does an interesting job of setting up his big right hand by taking 30 shots to the face. For some reason my gut is telling me Smith will find a way ( right hand to the chin) to win this fight.
Winner: Scott Smith via Knockout (Late third round)
Cory Brady: Knockout lovers unite, this fight is for you guys. There is absolutely no way this fight makes it to the judges. Cung Le has never been to the scorecards, and a little known fact about Smith is that he has only gone to a decision once in a total of twenty-three fights. That’s along with “Hands of Steel” finishing every single one of his sixteen victories on his own terms, meaning neither fighter has EVER won a mixed martial arts bout by decision, and tomorrow evening will be no exception to the rule.
The most significant difference here, as it is in all of Cung’s fights, will undoubtedly be the large gap in the striking department. Smith’s a great striker for MMA, but Le is leaps and bounds past where Smith can hope to be technically in the stand-up category. Smith could score a takedown, but I doubt it because Cung comes from a wrestling background, and he COULD land a miracle punch like David described before me, but don’t bet on it. Le told me in a recent conversation that he is well aware of Smith’s potential to end a fight at any moment, and I feel confident his experience in similar situations against better strikers than Smith will enable Cung to pick apart Scott on the feet in this one, with little worry of the infamous “come from behind punch”.
Winner: Cung Le via TKO
JOSH THOMSON VS. GILBERT MELENDEZ - STRIKEFORCE LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
David Andrest: Losing the Lawler fight from this card will not be the end of the world. As much as I hate to say it, I just don’t see this fight ending outside of 25 minutes. This is about as well matched as you could hope for in a lightweight title fight. The downside to that is the potential for a less than exciting fight from an action standpoint. Thomson is coming off injuries that have kept him out of the cage for an extended time.
Winner: Gilbert Melendez via Decision
Cory Brady: While I don’t agree with the man Andrest believes will end up on the winning side of things in this match-up, I can agree with him in feeling that it’s highly probable that this bout makes it all five rounds. Of course anything can happen in this crazy sport and both guys can finish fights, but I don’t feel like they can finish one another. Styles make fights and I expect a closely contested fight between two extremely talented and well rounded lightweights, who’s strengths will cancel the others out in a battle that will look a lot like the first between the two.
Winner: Josh Thomson via Decision
RONALDO “JACARE” SOUZA VS. MATT LINDLAND
David Andrest: This fight has a potential to be revisited by FiveOunesofPain in the form of a major award on Christmas Day. If you are familiar with Matt Lindland you already know ( cue politically correct David) he has a methodical style that wears his opponents down. Lindland has employed this style with success so I can’t see things going different in this fight. Lindland will not submit Jacare, and I don’t think he will knock him out. I think Lindland will spend the majority of this fight in top position of Jacare’s guard. Lindland has good enough submission defense to stay out of trouble.
Winner: Matt Lindland via Smothering Decision
Cory Brady: David can play the PC until he’s blue in the face, but I’ll come right out and say it, Lindland has been near the very top of my least favorite fighters to watch for many years running because I happen to find his style of fighting…. boring as all hell to be quite honest. Howevr, obviously boring has been known to win fights, and Lindland can be pointed to as a direct example of this. I feel like Matt may have won this fight like three years ago, but I haven’t seen anything out of the aging and one dimensional Lindland since he TKO’d Jeremy Horn in 2006. I feel like Jacare is the superior striker, he’s obviously better with the submissions, and most importantly, he has youth and explosiveness on his side. Lindland is a world class Greco Roman wrestler, but I’ve said it before, I’ll end up saying it a million times: Good at everything trumps great at one thing every single time.
Winner: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza via Submission
MUHAMMED “KING MO” LAWAL VS. MIKE WHITEHEAD
David Andrest: What can be said about King Mo that he and his pundits haven’t already said about him? Young, charismatic, explosive, outstanding wresting, underrated stand up; However, the thing that is most often overlooked is the record. At 5-0 as a professional Lawal is still just getting started. Lawal holds a 10th degree black belt in media relations, and on that statistic alone finds himself an incredible -600 on some notable Vegas sportsbooks. Whitehead on the other hand is 15-1 in his last 16 with his lone loss coming by decision to Babalu Sobral. The one determining factor in this fight for me might just be Lawal’s management. Ryan Parsons has done a wonderful job guiding the young fighter, and appears to have systematically placed Lawal in positions where he can excel. I am of the belief this will be the first true test for “”King Mo”, and it will not be an easy one.
Winner: Muhammed Lawal via decision.
Cory Brady: For Mo to be coming in as a -600 is absolutely ridiculous to me. I don’t feel like it’s fair to put those type of expectations on a fighter with a fraction of the experience as his opponent. An opponent in Whitehead that Andrest pointed out has a 15-1 record entering this fight. Whitehead’s only defeat in his last sixteen bouts was to former Strikeforce champ Renato “Babalu” Sobral, and the guy went the distance. Yet there are still those that would be happy with nothing less than a first round knockout, because those are the type of unreal expectations the hype surrounding a talented, up and coming can produce. While I still feel like Mo will win this fight, and win it impressively, lets give him the credit he’s due if he turns Whitehead into a highlight reel, and not look down on him if it ends up going to the scorecards. This is a great test for Lawal at this point in his still developing career, and a test I expect for him to pass with flying colors.
Winner: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal via TKO