In today’s economy it’s hard to find a genuinely good deal which is why this week Five Ounces of Pain is bringing readers TWO for the price of ONE where preview/predictions are concerned!!! In the lines ahead I’ll be breaking down notable match-ups from tonight’s Strikeforce Challengers and Moosin MMA events. Both cards are peppered with veterans such as Matt Lindland, Tim Sylvia, Pat Healy, and Yves Edwards, while Strikeforce also looks to shine on spotlight on rising star Tyron Woodley and Moosin brings together two of Mixed Martial Arts’ top females in the form of Tara Larosa‘s scheduled scrap with Roxanne Modafferi.
Before I get into the actual “pick em” part of this article let me preclude the breakdown of bouts by saying one of the things about Mixed Martial Arts I’ve always loved is its unpredictable nature. I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction with a little insight/opinion included in the deal, but readers would be wise to avoid laying down money on my attempts to glimpse into the future. Beyond that, please don’t hesitate to share your own thoughts on any or all of the scheduled fights in the “Comments” section below, and let’s get this show on the road…
Pat Healy vs. Bryan Travers
Healy may only be 22-15 as a professional Mixed Martial Artist but a closer examination reveals much more than can be derived from looking at his record on the surface. The fan-favorite and nine-year veteran of the sport has been in the ring with a number of notable opponents to say the least. He’s lost to the likes of Jay Hieron, Denis Kang, and Chris Lytle while claiming victory over Paul Daley, Dan Hardy, and Carlos Condit. Travers’ name doesn’t carry nearly the weight as any of those listed, but he’s won six consecutive fights and only felt the sting of defeat once in fourteen total bouts. However, four of his last five wins came via unanimous decision (with a kimura being #5), so I get the impression he relies on takedowns and size to hold competition down and attack from the top. Unfortunately for him, Healy is too good a grappler to be ensnared by such a trap. I expect “Bam Bam” to out-wrestle Travers and eventually find a submission to lock in.
Winner – Pat Healy via Submission Round 2
Roger Bowling vs. Bobby Voelker
Voelker has 4X the in-ring experience as Bowling, has been out-pointed more times in his 28-fight career than finished, and has thirteen TKOs to his credit. As such, he should enter the bout with a good deal of confidence in his ability exchange on his feet or when it comes to testing his cardio over fifteen full minutes. However, Bowling is undefeated and has beaten all seven of his opponents thus far in almost a Shane Carwin-like fashion. Six have fallen to strikes, while the other was submitted, and a high-percentage of the wins came in the first-round including a nine-second knockout! In the end I think his explosiveness will ultimately prevail. Voelker has been knocked out twice in his career (though granted the last time was a little more than two years ago), and he’s been out of action for six months after racking up a seven-bout-per-year average in the four years prior. The layoff and sliver-of-a-question about his chin are the factors pushing me towards Bowling, but I definitely expect this to be a very competitive fight and a great start for fans being introduced to both athletes for the first time.
Winner – Roger Bowling via TKO Round 2
Tyron Woodley vs. Nathan Coy
Coy is an above-average grappler with decent hands but lacks Woodley’s strength and athleticism. It’s important to note the three-fight win streak he’s on involves competition with a combined record equating to a single win over .500 and was preceded by back-to-back losses. On the other hand, “T-Wood” is undefeated through six fights and finished five of his opponents in the first round with the sixth only making it through about three-quarters of the second stanza. He’s definitely emerged as one of Strikeforce’s rising stars and could find himself on the cusp of a welterweight title shot with another impressive victory. Coy could weather the storm long enough to lose via decision but it won’t be an easy feat to accomplish. Woodley can be smothering, staying active enough to advance position while maintaining the focus needed to latch onto submissions when presented with the opportunity to do so. As such, I’m confident Woodley will be able to successfully defend Coy’s takedown attempts while dragging him to the mat on multiple occasions where he’ll eventually get his back and choke him out.
Winner – Tyron Woodley via Submission Round 2
Matt Lindland vs. Kevin Casey
There are few things in MMA that frighten me. Among them are life-threatening harm befalling an athlete, the public’s perception of MMA returning to that of “human cockfighting”, and Butterbean‘s wardrobe being somehow mixed up with Shonie Carter‘s. While none of those three things are at serious risk of occurring at the “Challengers” event, another equally insidious situation I fear involves reality television’s Spencer Pratt worming his way into MMA’s spotlight by riding the coattails of friend/associate Kevin Casey, and because of that shudder-inducing scenario I will be rooting for Lindland to emerge victorious in this bout with every fiber of my being.
Fortunately, the objective part of me also thinks “The Law” has a better of chance of winning the fight than being “laid down” by Casey. The 40-year old may have lost three of his last four fights but consider the competition he was facing in each – Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (BJJ wizard and arguably a “Top 10″ middleweight), Vitor Belfort (likely next in line for a shot at the UFC Middleweight Championship and coming off a first-round TKO of Rich Franklin), and Fedor Emelianenko (if you really need me to put something in THESE particular brackets you’re watching the wrong sport). Casey, on the other hand, doesn’t have anywhere close to Lindland’s experience and is only 3-1 as a professional fighter. He is one of “Punk” Minowa‘s seven TKO wins in the Japanese star’s 83-fight career. He primarily relies on grappling to beat opponents, so it would seem he shouldn’t have much to offer against a silver-medalist Olympian like Lindland who is also well-versed in submissions. Outside of a perfectly-placed strike landing I don’t see many ways Casey can walk away from his “main event” at-bat without striking out.
Winner – Matt Lindland via Decision
Tara LaRosa vs. Roxanne Modafferi
As I said in this week’s “Grappling with Issues”, I’m actually looking forward to this particular contest more than the one headlining the card and featuring 4X the weight. Modafferi and LaRosa are both quality female Mixed Martial Artists with the latter deserving consideration as her gender’s best pound-for-pound competitor. LaRosa has won fifteen fights in a row and only lost once in a total of nineteen bouts over an eight-year career. She’s a respectable grappler who has finished her last eight opponents and will enter the ring as the clear favorite to win. However, Ms. Modafferi can’t be counted out as evident by her 7-1 record over the past three-plus years. Her only loss in that span was the result of a fight she took on short notice against Marloes Coenen, and though she lacks LaRosa’s power Roxanne has an incredible amount of heart and is both patient and intellectual in her approach. The stylistic pairing is nice, and I think fans are in for a treat given a sense of familiarity derived from a previous match-up likely clearing the path for more engagement than feeling out. I believe LaRosa’s stand-up should win her most if not all of the exchanges that occur and will ultimately be the difference maker in this bout given that both ladies are solid on the mat.
Winner – Tara LaRosa via Decision
Yves Edwards vs. Mike Campbell
Campbell doesn’t appear to be much of a threat to Edwards, as four of his six wins have come by way of TKO yet only equate to about a quarter of the veteran’s victories using the same method. Additionally, Yves has only been rendered unable to compete via strikes twice in a career with more than fifty fights under his belt. The “Thugjitsu” specialist has finished three straight opponents, including back-to-back first-round TKOs against two men Campbell is a few notches below on the talent scale (Kyle Jensen and Derrick Noble), and he has a lot more to work with on the ground than his adversary does. This bout is basically Moosin’s way of showcasing a fan favorite like Edwards against an underdog who happens to be from the area the event is taking place in, not an attempt at serving parity up to viewers.
Winner – Yves Edwards via TKO Round 1
Travis Lutter vs. Rafael Natal
This may be hard to believe, but tonight only marks Lutter’s third fight since losing to UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva in February 2007. Natal is a Gracie-affiliated grappler so his approach to beating the Ultimate Fighter Season 4 champion should be fairly predictable. However, with Lutter also being a high-level jiujitsu practitioner a lot of Natal’s attacks will be negated, and I’m far from confident in either man’s ability to knock the other out. The push of styles, in addition to Lutter’s inactivity, makes me worry that this bout could turn out to be a relatively boring fifteen-minute stalemate. It would be perfectly at home in an ADCC tournament but may not be the type of match-up standard MMA fans want to see.
Winner – Travis Lutter via Decision
Travis Wiuff vs. Josh Barnes
This fight is custom made for Wiuff to win. Barnes, a late replacement for original opponent Mu Bae Choi, is 5-4 as a professional and owes 3/4 of his defeats to being TKO’d. On the other hand, this bout marks Wiuff’s 75th as a professional Mixed Martial Artist with nearly a 6:1 ratio of wins/losses and stats far eclipsing Barnes’. I expect both men to throw leather right off the bat and see whose chin gives first. However, unlike Barnes, if Wiuff doesn’t like what he sees he has the option to take things to the ground and work submissions. His experience and overall abundance of skills should be too much for Barnes to overcome. Outside of the old “puncher’s chance” seeping its way into the fight this victory should be the most guaranteed one in the entire lot.
Winner – Travis Wiuff via TKO Round 1
Tim Sylvia vs. Mariusz Pudzianowski
I like to think of this bout as Moosin’s way of showing some love to fans of Japanese MMA who don’t necessarily want to stay up until 6:00 AM to watch a “freak show” fight take place. After all, at a total weight of nearly 600 pounds, would Sylvia vs. Pudzianowski not be perfectly at home with iconic ring announcer Lenne Hardt screaming out their respective names during the opening ceremonies of an event?
In this case of Far East meets East Coast it seems like Sylvia should be an obvious favorite to win based on his experience and training background, but “The Maine-iac” has made it difficult to put any real vote of confidence in him due to his recent run of sloppy physical conditioning and nine-second knockout loss to Ray Mercer last June. Pudzniaowski is obviously powerful enough to crumple Tim-meh with a few well-placed strikes, and it would be very interesting to see what might happen if the Polish strong-man was able to take Sylvia down and found a way to work some ground-and-pound. However, I think his overly-muscular frame will actually be his demise, as it prevents him from having the fluidity of motion necessary for even above-average level striking. His bulk also requires a great of oxygen to power so the longer Sylvia can extend things the better chance he has of picking Pudzniaowski apart. I hope/think the former UFC Heavyweight Champion will be able to work his jab to keep his shorter, stockier opponent at bay and maybe test his takedown/submission defense if an opening presents itself. As long as Sylvia enters the bout with basic strategy and sticks to it he should find himself on a winning streak for the first time since November 2006.
Winner – Tim Sylvia via TKO Round 3