This Saturday night at 7PM on CBS, Strikeforce makes its return to national broadcast TV with Strikeforce: Nashville. A solid card featuring future Hall of Famers, rising young talent, and a man who calls himself a “Crazy Monkey,” Strikeforce brings to you a legit pay pew view quality card for free.
So check out our Strikeforce preview after the jump, and who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something new.
Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller (22-7 1NC) vs. Tim Stout (9-7)
One of the most…well, how do we put it politely…unique (colorful? entertaining? special?) characters in mixed martial arts, Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller brings a healthy 22-7 record into this fight, with his most recent rumble coming on Strikeforce’s last foray into broadcast television in a loss against Jake Shields. The one thing ‘Mayhem’ does not lack is personality, and it is this reason that, despite being on the undercard, Scott Coker has promised this fight will air in some way, shape, or form on the broadcast. But make no mistake…Miller’s game goes way beyond his “Crazy Monkey” persona (which has included living in a van outside his training facility, a reality TV show, and choreographed entrances featuring Japanese schoolgirls). He brings a very legitimate jiu-jitsu game to his fights, with 13 of his 22 wins coming via submission, and a resume littered with near misses and defeats against quality opposition. His fight against Shields, although a loss, proved that he is more than just an MTV star, but rather he is a dangerous fighter in the prime of his career.
Tim Stout is a journeyman fighter out of Memphis, Tennessee that is in this fight for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to make a name for himself. To sum up the giant question mark that Stout represents for ‘Mayhem,’ look no further than his record, which depending on where you look, could be as low as 8-7 or as high as 12-8 (for our purposes, Sherdog is usually the most reliable site for this sort of stuff and they say 9-7). Stout represents the unknown in this fight, and that is an advantage that he will look to exploit to score an upset. He has heavy hands and like all fighters that can stand up, he is one punch away from a victory.
…’Mayhem’ to use what got him to the show, a versatile ground game. Miller displayed his world class jiu-jitsu when he was seconds away from submitting Shields, and of Stout’s 7 losses, 6 have come via submission. Miller’s strength appears to be Stout’s weakness, and that is never good for the underdog.
What We Think:
Rich Keefe – Jason Miller def. Tim Stout via TKO in the Round 1
Nick Cattles – Jason Miller def. Tim Stout via Submission in Round 2
Josh Deering – Jason Miller def. Tim Stout via Submission in the Round 3
Smitty –Jason Miller def. Tim Stout via Submission in the Round 2
Gilbert ‘El Nino’ Melendez (17-2) vs. Shinya Aoki (23-4)
Strikeforce Lightweight Title Bout
Rarely is a champion as pushed to the background in a title fight as Gilbert Melendez is for this fight, but the spotlight for this bout is all on Shinya Aoki. But in the world of mixed martial arts, that means very little. Melendez is the type of fighter that must relish that role. A quality striker and wrestler, Melendez brings a raw fight to his opponents with an ability to grind out a victory if need be. 10 of his 17 victories have come via KO, and both of his 2 losses have been avenged, emerging victorious in rematches against Mitsuhiro Ishida and Josh Thomson. Defeating Aoki is a tall task for ‘El Nino,’ but if he can do so, he is instantly thrown into the spotlight of the 155lb division.
One of the few men in MMA who can (and should) incorporate a quality rubber guard into his game, Shinya Aoki makes his long-awaited American MMA debut on Saturday. Aoki has become one of the more controversial figures in MMA, a fighter who has claimed his sole purpose of fighting in America is to prove that Japanese MMA is superior. Inside the ring, his antics have divided MMA pundits for over his career, whether from flipping off an opponent whose arm had been broken or by his holier than thou attitude. As our own Rich Keefe put it, the man has fire. Aoki is, however, an artist of the submission variety once the bell sounds. There are countless videos of Aoki’s ability on YouTube, and if Gilbert Melendez isn’t careful, he could become just another chapter on ‘The Baka Survivor’s’ highlight reel.
…Aoki to use his flamboyant in-ring/cage abilities to bring the fight to the mat. Melendez is a great wrestler, but against a competitor like Shinya Aoki, that isn’t always the best idea. Many considered Aoki to be the number 2 lightweight in the world, but after BJ Penn’s recent defeat, we should be able to look to Aoki as our new king.
What We Think:
Rich Keefe – Shinya Aoki def. Gilbert Melendez via Submission in Round 2
Nick Cattles – Shinya Aoki def. Gilbert Melendez via TKO in Round 4
Josh Deering – Shinya Aoki def. Gilbert Melendez via Submission in Round 2
Smitty – Shinya Aoki def. Gilbert Melendez via Submission in Round 1
Gegard ‘The Dreamcatcher’ Mousasi (28-2) vs. ‘King Mo’ Muhammed Lawal (6-0)
Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Title Bout
Perhaps no one in mixed martial arts currently has the expectations that have been placed on Gegard Mousasi, but rather than fold under the pressure like so many before him have, ‘The Dreamcatcher’ has thrived since his assault on the light heavyweight division began. Certainly the best light heavyweight not employed by the UFC, Gegard Mousasi comes from that BJ Penn/Georges St. Pierre mold of being good at everything he does. Mousasi is a tactician in the cage, perfectly capable of submitting you, knocking you out, or to be honest, winning however the hell he feels like it. Now in his third consecutive CBS/Strikeforce broadcast, it is clear that Scott Coker knows he has a star on his hands. Hopefully ‘The Dreamcatcher’ can continue to live up to the hype.
On the other side of the cage is a fighter who that couldn’t be any different, yet possesses the same kind of upside as the champ: ‘King Mo’ Muhammed Lawal. ‘King Mo’ has taken on the world of Japanese MMA by storm, going 6-0 to start his career with 5 KO’s all in the first round. Yet striking isn’t Lawal’s strength. Instead, that comes in the form of a world class wrestling background, which he hasn’t needed to use to this point. What makes the fight between ‘King Mo’ and Mousasi so interesting is how different the two are (see our piece from earlier in the week on these two), yet how they are bound together as quality fighters that can lead the charge against the UFC. If nothing else, be sure to tune into the fight to at least see ‘King Mo’ walk out to the ring. That alone is worth making an appointment in front of your TV.
…this fight to steal the show and for Mousasi to frustrate ‘King Mo.’ It cant be stated enough how important this fight coan be to Strikeforce, as this could be the genesis of a healthy rivalry, much like Wanderlei vs. Rampage early in their careers. ‘King Mo’ is a showman who will look to put on a performance on the national stage, but if he wants to beat Mousasi, he is going to have to reach back and utilize his much lauded wrestling background. Otherwise, ‘The Dreamcatcher’ will dictate where this fight goes and most likely, the outcome as well.
What We Think:
Rich Keefe – Gegard Mousasi def. Muhammed Lawal via TKO in Round 3
Nick Cattles – Muhammed Lawal def. Gegard Mousasi via KO in Round 3
Josh Deering – Gegard Mousasi def. Muhammed Lawal via Unanimous Decision
Smitty – Gegard Mousasi def. Muhammed Lawal via Unanimous Decision
Jake Shields (24-4) vs. Dan Henderson (25-7)
Strikeforce Middleweight Title Bout
Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields enters this fight as one of the hottest middleweights in the world, winning his last 13 fights. 13 wins is 13 wins, but if you don’t buy the hype, look at who he beat in his last 3 fights: Jason Miller, Robbie Lawler, and Paul Daley. Now its time for Shields to step up his game and take on an MMA legend who still has a lot left in the tank in Dan Henderson. Shields is a well versed fighter with a resume that includes a black-belt from Cesar Gracie in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a wrestling background that earned him college scholarship offers, and some Muay Thai training with Chuck Liddell. Not too shabby. But make no mistake…jiu-jitsu is where Shields makes his money. If it remains standing, he could be in trouble.
After a mediocre run in the UFC that included two defeats in championship bouts, Dan Henderson looks for a fresh start in Strikeforce. Scott Coker’s prized free agent signing, Henderson instantly brings credibility to the middleweight division and to an organization that can put on UFC-caliber cards. What makes Hendo so good is that he excels in two separate areas of mixed martial arts: striking and wrestling. Combine that with excellent cardio and Dan Henderson is a nightmare of a matchup for anyone.
…Henderson to keep this fight standing up in order to stay away from Shields’ guard. Henderson will look to replicate his knockout of the decade performance against Michael Bisping by remaining upright and keeping that sledgehammer of a right hand cocked. Shields won’t fare much better on the ground, as Hendo is a much bigger guy with excellent wrestling, yet unfortunately, this is where Shields needs to take the fight to keep his belt.
What We Think:
Rich Keefe – Dan Henderson def. Jake Shields via KO in Round 2
Nick Cattles – Dan Henderson def. Jake Shields via Unanimous Decision
Josh Deering – Dan Henderson def. Jake Shields via TKO in Round 3
Smitty – Dan Henderson def. Jake Shields via TKO in Round 4