Strikeforce and M-1 Global will join forces once again tomorrow night (June 26) to bring a Fedor Emelianenko fight to U.S. soil. Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Fabricio Werdum will be the latest to challenge the man widely believed to be the top heavyweight mixed martial artist on the planet.
"Fedor vs. Werdum" will take place at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, and the four-fight main card will air live on Showtime, beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
Strikeforce Women's Champion (145 pounds) Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos will be in action on the card as well, defending her title against Jan "Cuddles" Finney -- a winner of four straight.
Two other former champions will also be on hand, as Josh "The Punk" Thomson and Cung Le look to get back into title contention when they square off against Pat "Bam Bam" Healy and Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith, respectively.
To help get you better prepared for tomorrow night's festivities, I've given some quick analysis and predictions for the main card below. Check it out.
265 lbs.: Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko vs. Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum
There's really nothing to like about this match-up from Werdum's perspective. His stand up isn't good enough to trade with Fedor for three rounds without getting knocked out or losing on the cards. His wrestling isn't good enough to take Fedor down and maintain the top position. And working off his back would be suicide, I don't care how good his jiu-jitsu is.
Basically, unless Fedor comes out and just hands over his arm, Fabricio Werdum is not going to win this fight.
Surely Fedor likes his chances on his feet and I imagine that's where he'll try to keep the fight. I expect Werdum to come out extremely cautious and defensive, though, and that should take away Fedor's big counter right hand. Fedor is still the better boxer, though, and I can't imagine a scenario in which Werdum outstrikes him.
I hate to say it, but this fight is going to be a snorer. Werdum isn't going to want to engage on his feet and he's not going to have any success getting this fight to the ground where he can use his jiu-jitsu, either. And even if he did, Fedor's submission skills are arguably as good as his anyway.
Werdum is going to play keep away, so I think this thing goes the full fifteen minutes. But Fedor isn't going to lose.
Bring on Alistair.
Final prediction: Fedor Emelianenko via unanimous decision.
185 lbs.: Cung Le vs. Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith
Cung Le dominated the first fight between these two, and that was after almost two years on the sidelines. There's no reason to believe he won't do the same in the rematch. The only difference will be that he'll actually win this time.
Scott Smith has decent technique, but let's face it, he's nowhere near as technical or as versatile as Cung Le as a striker. He can hit and kick and has power everywhere, but when he's fighting another striker who is better than he is technically, like a Robbie Lawler or a Cung Le, he turns into a brawler. All technique goes out the window after he gets hit a few times, and then he starts looking for pay dirt with a big punch or kick.
As Cung Le obviously knows, sometimes it even works.
The problem with that in this particular fight is that Cung Le is too good to make that same mistake twice. He'll pick and choose his shots a lot more selectively this time around, and he certainly won't let his guard down late in the fight if he thinks he has Smith defeated.
Look for Cung to go to work on Smith's mid section and legs with his arsenal of kicks. He's extremely effective with those, and I think that's the best way for him to wear Smith down and get a finish.
Final prediction: Cung Le via TKO
145 lbs.: Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos vs. Jan "Cuddles" Finney
"Cyborg" is a wrecking machine that has finished all three of her opponents under the Strikeforce banner with strikes, including former Elite XC poster girl Gina Carano.
She doesn't appear to have a weakness, although she was submitted once, even if it was five years ago and her first professional fight. Finney is a puncher, though, and she won't be submitting "Cyborg" in this fight. I feel pretty safe in saying that.
Instead, "Cyborg" is going to be right at home in this fight because Finney is probably going to stand and trade with her. And in that type of fight, I haven't seen a female mixed martial artist yet that I would pick to beat Santos.
Finney is on a nice little four fight winning streak, but she's barely a .500 fighter throughout her career. And if you look even closer at her record, the four biggest named opponents she's faced (Shayna Baszler, Julie Kedzie, Miesha Tate and Erin Toughill) represent six of her seven losses.
"Cyborg" is the best female fighter in the world. Surely Strikeforce could have found a more suitable number one contender than "Cuddles." Although, her style should provide a decent highlight reel finish for the champion.
Final prediciton: Cyborg via knockout
155 lbs.: Josh "The Punk" Thomson vs. Pat "Bam Bam" Healy
This should be the most competitive fight on a card with a few too many one-sided match-ups.
Thomson is easily the better athlete and overall fighter, but Healy has been around for a long time and been in the cage with a lot of big name guys. He even has wins over some top welterweights like Carlos Condit, Paul Daley, and Dan Hardy.
Size and experience shouldn't be an issue for Thomson, though, since he's a rather large 155-pounder himself and he's seen action against some pretty stiff competition as well.
They're both strong guys with good wrestling and cage presence. The difference is going to be Thomson's speed, athleticism, and striking.
Healy was effective with his jab in his most recent Strikeforce outing against Travers, but he's going to have a hard time finding that range against Thomson, because "The Punk" is so fast and he's constantly moving his head and his feet.
Also, Thomson's kicks are another area for concern in the stand-up for Healy. Thomson can go upstairs with power or he can punish his opponents with leg kicks as well. Healy is over-matched as a striker here, and he won't win this fight if it turns into a kickboxing match.
"Bam Bam" is very good in the clinch, though, and that could be the one area that he could potentially give Thomson some trouble. I'm doubting his ability to take the ex-champ to the floor and keep him there, though, and that's going to be a problem in the eyes of the judges because the stand-up will be a clear advantage for Thomson.
Healy hasn't been finished in a fight in over three years, and this is easily the biggest opportunity he's had as a fighter since then. I expect him to come out with a win or die attitude, which should carry him through the full three rounds. Still, Thomson should take the decision.
Final prediction: Josh Thomson via unanimous decision.
That's a wrap. Sound off with your "Fedor vs. Werdum" predictions in the comments section below.