After an exciting UFC card on Friday night, the UFC’s sister promotion, Strikeforce, takes center stage with Strikeforce: Tate vs Rousey. Featuring a women’s bantamweight championship bout between Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey, as well as an intriguing lightweight bout between K.J. Noons and Josh Thomson, this card could very well outshine Friday’s UFC card (though not an easy feat by any means) With four preliminary bouts on Showtime: Extreme and a five fight main card live on Showtime, fights fans will have no shortage of fights to watch tonight.
Roger Bowling (10-2) vs. Brandon Saling (8-5)
Longtime Strikeforce fighter Bowling welcomes newcomer Saling to the promotion to open up the Showtime Extreme portion of the card. Bowling is coming off a quick knockout of Jerron Peoples in December and looks to make it two in a row here. A Chuck Liddell-lookalike, Saling already has two knockout victories this year. Unfortunately for Saling, Bowling is just a better fighter and will likely overwhelm him.
Winner – Roger Bowling defeats Brandon Saling via TKO Round 1
Ryan Couture (3-1) vs. Conor Heun (9-4)
The son of “The Natural” Randy Couture, Ryan steps into the Strikeforce cage for the fifth time looking for his first victory over mid-tier competition. The test he must pass is that of one Heun. Despite his “tough as nails” attitude, The “Hurricane” hasn’t had much luck in Strikeforce, and looks to build his first winbubg streak inside the Strikeforce cage. Let’s be real here, Couture just isn’t very good, at least not yet so expect Heun to beat him standing and on the ground en route to a Unanimous Decision victory.
Winner – Conor Heun defeats Ryan Couture via Unanimous Decision
Caros Fodor (7-1) vs. Pat Healy (26-16)
An exciting prospect, Fodor enters the cage on Saturday on the strength of a five-fight winning streak and most recently blasted Justin Wilcox into orbit in thirteen seconds. “Bam Bam” Healy has done it all. With victories over Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, Carlos Condit, and most recently Maximo Blanco, Healy is looking for his fourth consecutive win. While Fodor may be “The Future”, I think the crafty veteran Healy gets the win here though I expect it will be a very close fight.
Winner – Pat Healy defeats Caros Fodor via Split Decision
Sarah Kaufman (14-1) vs. Alexis Davis (11-4)
In the main event of the preliminary card, we’ll find out who gets the next shot the the 135-pound champion. The former title-holder Kaufman will be looking to prove that she was overlooked for the title shot after dominating Liz Carmouche at Strikeforce Challengers 17 while Davis looks for her fourth straight win as well as her first Strikeforce title-shot with a win over Kaufman. Although it was nearly five years ago, Kaufman has already defeated Davis. While they’ve both grown since, I believe Kaufman is the better fighter and will have an easy night here, taking a decision and being first in line for the winner of the main event.
Winner – Sarah Kaufman defeats Alexis Davis via Unanimous Decision
Scott Smith (17-9) vs. Lumumba Sayers (5-2)
Smith needs to win, badly. Coming off of three straight losses to Cung Le, Paul Daley, and Tarec Saffiedine, the heavy-handed Smith is likely fighting for his job, maybe even career. Smith can just about knock out anyone and he tends to make these miraculous comebacks that are the stuff of legend. Smith returns to middleweight for this bout.
Sayers, who made short work of Antwain Britt in November, is hoping to build off of that win and get his second straight victory. Known for his submissions above all, Sayers has lead-laden fists and may very well be ready to to make the move from mid/upper-tier middleweights with a victory here.
Smith doesn’t have much of a chin, but Sayers has suffered a quick knockout in his career as well. While most seem to favor Sayers in this fight, I feel as if he’ll get pulled into a brawl here. Someone will likely go to sleep, and I have a feeling that Smith will be the one landing a big counter that ends the fight.
Winner – Scott Smith defeats Lamumba Sayers via Knockout Round 1
Ronaldo Souza (14-3) vs. Bristol Marunde (12-6)
“Jacare”! The former middleweight champion is looking to bounce back from his title-loss to Luke Rockhold. The grappling ace has victories over Jason Miller, Tim Kennedy, and Robbie Lawler, and undoubtedly wants his belt back. A victory here would be a step in the right direction, though a defeat would be devastating so and “Jacare” has a lot to lose here.
Making his Strikeforce debut,Marunde is seeking his fifth straight win. The biggest challenge of his career, a victory over Souza would be a huge statement, and Marunde has absolutely nothing to lose in this fight. With nine wins in his last ten fights, Marunde is more than capable of taking home the “W” and his well-rounded fighting style could take him far.
I expect a very aggressive Marunde in this fight. I imagine him throwing leather with blatant disregard for his (or Souza’s) safety. Unfortunately for him, Souza outclasses him on the feet, likely hurts him, and follows up on the ground with his specialty.
Winner – Ronaldo Souza defeats Bristol Marunde via Submission Round 1
Paul Daley (29-11-2) vs. Kazuo Misaki (24-11-2)
Returning to Strikeforce for the first time since July of last year. “Semtex” is on the hunt for a third straight victory and expects to get back into title contention in Strikeforce with a victory tonight. The hard-hitting striker has worked hard on improving his ground game, as we’ve seen in his last few fights, but his bread and butter is still and always will be his sledgehammer-like fists.
The Japanese Misaki returns to Strikeforce for the first time in three years. The PRIDE, Sengoku, and Pancrase veteran has fought some of the best in the world including Dan Henderson, Jake Shields, and Jorge Santiago. With 15 finishes to his credit, the Haleo Top Team fighter looks for his third straight victory and is more than capable of getting it against Daley.
This has “Fight of the Night” written all over it. While Misaki may not be the fighter he used to be, he still can hold his own against anybody. The most likely scenario sees the veteran Misaki engaging Daley on the feet, but that will probably be as far as he gets. His desire to engage in a brawl will be his downfall as Daley lands one or two huge shots and puts Misaki away within the distance.
Winner – Paul Daley defeats Kazuo Misaki via TKO Round 2
K.J. Noons (11-4) vs. Josh Thomson (18-4)
The fast-moving boxer Noons returns to the cage less than three months removed from his decision victory over Billy Evangelista. With success against much of the lightweight division, Noons is a handful for anybody and his striking, movement, and speed can cause a lot of problems for his opponents.
Looking for his second straight victory following two losses, Noons faces a tough challenge in Thomson. “The Punk” returns after over a year away from the sport due to injuries. The lightweight standout undoubtedly wants a rubber match with champ Gilbert Melendez, and a victory over Noons could be the start of his climb back to the top. The former champion believes he should be in the main event, and he’ll look to put on a great showing in the co-main event on Saturday to prove it.
The possibility of ring rust aside, Thomson is a versatile fighter with a fantastic skill-set. If Thomson can stay out of a slugfest and work the fight to where he is stronger, which is everywhere else, he should be able to overwhelm and confuse Noons. One of the closest fights on the card, this could go either way, but I give the slight edge to Thomson.
Winner – Josh Thomson defeats K.J. Noons via Unanimous Decision
Miesha Tate (12-2) vs. Ronda Rousey (4-0)
The main event pits the 135-pound champion Tate against fast-rising challenger Rousey. Tate, who defeated Marloes Coenen to take the belt home last summer, makes her first defense of the title in the headlining contest on Saturday. The Team Alpha Male fighter, Tate tends to use her powerful wrestling and excellent submissions to dictate the pace of fights. She has the gas tank to go for five rounds, and is proficient in the ground and pound.
The undefeated Rousey fights for not only a title, but also respect. While many within the division have criticized Rousey for essentially talking her way into a title fight, she has the experience in combat sports, the athleticism, and the technical prowess to make short work of anyone. Having not had a fight get out of the first minute, Rousey is clearly a fast starter and a great finisher, who will look to continue her streak of collecting limbs.
It goes without saying that we could very well have a new champion here. While Rousey lacks experience in MMA, she has been grappling her whole life and that may play into her favor. Both fighters want this fight to hit the ground, as that’s where their strengths are, but Rousey may have the edge in that regard. Tate’s striking isn’t anything spectacular, and she can’t win the fight just standing with “Rowdy” Ronda. She does have dominate top control, and if she can score takedown after takedown, she could dominate the fight, especially in the later rounds. In the beginning of the fight, I heavily favor Rousey, but if the fight gets out of the first one or two rounds Tate will continuously take Ronda down and grind out a decision. I like Rousey a lot, but I believe Tate retains the belt here.
Winner – Miesha Tate defeats Ronda Rousey via Unanimous Decision
No matter how the fights play out, Saturday’s Strikeforce card will round out an awesome weekend of fights, and features perhaps the best fight of the weekend in Tate vs Rousey. After this event, hopefully we’ll have a better idea of how Strikeforce’s divisions will progress, and have a better idea of the future of women’s MMA.
Enjoy the fights! Things start on Showtime Extreme at 8:00 PM EST with the main card firing up at 10:00 PM EST.