The Coker and crew are back with another night of exciting Strikeforce match-ups! Unlike the recent Challengers events, which have been absolutely buried since the Zuffa buy-out, this card is coming at us with all the whistles, belts, and general hooplah that we grew to love from Strikeforce! We don’t even have another major MMA event to compete with the card as Bellator is on vacation, the UFC took the week off, and Japan is waaaaay over there *points over there* in another timezone with Jewels: 17th Ring.
Despite the wide open weekend, the Strikeforce party just doesn’t seem to be bouncing around the blogosphere to our liking. So let’s kick up the Staggin’ and pump enough Strikeforce awesomeness into your domes until your livers sign a collective petition to have your decision making powers revoked! This is the Stag Party- Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal.
Mountaineer: Is there anything more exciting than a Strikeforce weekend? Yeah, sure, a few things. Like getting free food coupons in the mail or finding a dollar on the ground. (Midge: and shiny thing! Yaaay!) Yeah, there are a lot of things more exciting than a Strikeforce card. But the best part of all of this? It isn’t a Challengers card. I don’t have to see some kid coming out of collegiate wrestling take on a Toughman champion. This is actually a legitimate card, but there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of hype over it! Regardless, we have a great main event slated in Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal. What do you think?
Midge: Melendez vs. Masvidal. That’s a great bout. Everyone seems to be counting Masvidal out of this one, which I understand given Gilbert’s absolute domination of his the 155 lbs division outside of the UFC over the past few years. The dude has a great wrestling game, good hands, fantastic submission defense, and is overall an extremely intelligent fighter. However, Masvidal is no joke. This dude’s last three fights had him ruining then undefeated Billy Evangelista, utterly destroying KJ Noon’s face, and giving the much larger Paul Daley everything he can handle in a super scrap at 170 lbs! Masvidal is without a doubt a UFC caliber fighter and should not be overlooked.
Mountaineer: Masvidal’s best attribute is definitely his tenacity and heart. The guy is an animal. Unfortunately, this animal is running into a savage in Melendez. Masvidal is capable in all areas, but Gilbert is just more proficient in every aspect. That, and I just saw Masvidal get dropped by Kimbo’s apprentice Ray (that is his only name. He is like the Prince of backyard fighting) in a street fight. If Ray can do that to Masvidal, imagine what Melendez will do.
Midge: Haha. I certainly wouldn’t take Masvidal’s old street fighting clips into account when assessing his current skills in the cage (although I’ll be watching that clip immediately following these sentences). However, I’m not going with Masvidal in this bout. Melendez may very well be the best lightweight in the world, but until he is tested in the shark tank of the UFC we just can’t determine that. I can determine that his wrestling trumps Masvidal’s however. So at the end of the day, Melendez has a clear shot to victory. I’m taking Melendez by Unanimous Decision.
Mountaineer: Bold. Very bold. I think Masvidal is tough, but that tough? No. Striking goes to Melendez, grappling goes to Melendez, better hair goes to Melendez. There is literally no aspect that "Gamebred" gets the nod in. I see him hanging in there for a round or two, but the savagery committed in the Hexagon (TM) on Saturday night will be akin to a John Woo wet dream. I’ll go with Melendez by TKO, Rd. 3.
Midge: Is Hexagon really trademarked? (Mountaineer: Not sure, but Strikeforce should give me a call if it isn’t. I would be a business genius to them.) I best inform Mrs. Petree’s 1st grade class at Broward Elementary. We wouldn’t want another incident with Zuffa like when they learned to make 8-sided shapes last March.
Mountaineer: I wonder if Dana actually would enforce that. My answer would be yes, but who knows? I know someone who could enforce that rule very well. Mrs. Cyborg Santos, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos! I’m sure she’d be more than willing to deliver some elbows and knees to a bunch of 1st grade rapscallions, abusing Uncle Dana’s Octagon (TM) and the new legal meaning to it. Also, Cyborg has a fight this weekend with someone who might put up as much fight as a 1st grader in Hiroko Yamanaka. If you’re interested in a private island somewhere, Cyborg has opened up as a -900 favorite on some lines. So if you lay a penny on Hiroko, you might be set for life.
Midge: Wow -900? That’s nuts. Hiroko Yamanaka is a huge, lengthy 145er who knows how to use her size. This is definitely NOT a Jan Finney or a little tiny Hitomi Akano. Yamanaka is a 5’11, 12-1 bad ass from Japan who has historically used her reach to keep her opponents at bay with jabs and kicks while on the feet, and tangled her opponents up in his massive limbs on the ground. Yamanaka has dominated the Jewels promotion since it’s inception in 2008. She is the #2 Featherweight in the world. I understand that not many people in the West pay much attention to the Japanese scene these days, but -900? That’s the type of crazy you find on the streets of West Hollywood at 3:00am on a Thursday morning.
Mountaineer: And looking at her record and accomplishments, Yamanaka has some impressive stats. Went to a losing decision with Roxanne Modafferi in a grappling match, undefeated in the Shoot Boxing promotion, and a stellar 12-1 record, with her only loss coming to that tiny girl you mentioned, Hitomi Akano. Unfortunately, I don’t see her being able to survive a Cyborg blitz or a grappling match with her either. But, as you said, it is a lot closer than casino sharks who make these odds suggest. I’ll go with a Cyborg TKO or submission, Rd. 2.
Midge: There’s a lot going against Yamanaka in this fight. Sure, she has never fought someone like Cyborg (and vice versa), but there are a lot of other variables here. Yamanaka has never fought stateside. The cage will be new. The jetlag will be new. The different food leading up to the event will be new. The press duties will be new. This big of a crowd will be new. Legal elbows will be new. Like all Asian fighters heading to America for the first time, there is a lot to overcome. But on the other hand, Cyborg hasn’t fought (or cut weight) in over a year and a half. That’s some massive ring rust. Hiroko has fought four times in this time frame (finishing 3 of the 4). If Cyborg is too rusty to get her distance down, this could be a long night for her. I’m going on a limb- a long Japanese limb. Yamanaka by RNC, Rd. 3.
Mountaineer: Very gutsy pick. As we close out the card here, we have Ovince St. Preux vs. Gegard Mousasi and K.J. Noons vs. Billy Evangelista. Starting off with the OSP-Mousasi bout, I love OSP. Great raw talent and potential has carried this guy, but he is still figuring out his game. And Gegard Mousasi is not the guy to put your new talents to work against.
Midge: Agreed. St. Preux is still green, and has never fought anyone near the level of Mousasi. I think many people will be picking St. Preux due to the decision loss Mousasi had against King Mo Lawal. I, on the other hand, will not. For one, I judged that bout in favor of Mousasi. Secondly, King Mo is a much more powerful wrestler than OSP and has a style tailor fit for MMA. With his KO power, you can’t simply worry about his takedowns either. King Mo is just cooler than St. Preux. Plus, that fight was nearly two years ago. Mousasi has surely improved his wrestling game since then. I think he can keep it standing and just brutalize St. Preux. I’m quite confident in my choice here. Mousasi by TKO, Rd 1.
Midge: "Mousasi’s Choice" sounds delicious.... mmm... Anywho, Noons vs. Evangelista is much more interesting if you ask me. Evangelista is coming off of his first career loss again Jorge Masvidal last March, while KJ Noons has fallen from grace since his boxing stint with his last four fights ending with two losses (the most recent being a complete mauling at the hands of Jorge Masvidal), a dirty win over Jorge Gurgel, and a split decision over Conor Heun. Not too impressive. I was never on the KJ Noons bandwagon personally, and although I’ve skoffed many a time at Strikeforce’s over-hyping of Evangelista, I think he is going to wrestle out a decision win here. Evangelista by Split Decision.
Mountaineer: I’ve really warmed to KJ and his "pro boxing" skills. He puts on exciting fights and the guy has some power. He does struggle in the grappling portions of his fights, but his submission defense looks capable enough to survive someone like Evangelista. He has the standup to beat Evangelista. So I’ll go with Karl James Noons by decision.
Midge: I don’t like people named Karl. Caros, however, is a pretty sweet ass name. Caros Fodor will be squaring off against Justin Wilcox on the undercard in a bout that has no place being there. Fodor is a 6-1 bad ass with a ridiculously extensive amateur career. The dude has proven without a doubt that he is ready to be tested against the next tier of fighter. "The Silverback" Justin Wilcox is certainly that test. The AKA product is undefeated since 2008, and just a beast of pure muscle athleticism. As far as I know, Wilcox may be next in line for a title shot with a win here. It’s a very intriguing fight and deserves some recognition before we head out.
Mountaineer: Wilcox is a former bodybuilder, and boy does it show. Dude is part-Hulk. He may be the first white guy that Mike Goldberg would call explosive and athletic with the way he looks. Caros Fodor is a good prospect, and his brother is a vigilante superhero named "Phoenix Jones." With this much awesomeness in one fight, how could this not be on the main card? Damn you, Scott Coker! Regardless, I’ll go with a safe pick and go with Wilcox here. Too much strength, too much grind. Wilcox by decision.
Midge: The only real losers in this bout are the fans, who might not see the fight. Oh wait, no. Fodor is going to lose too. Wilcox by TKO, Rd 1.
Interested in the rest of the undercard? Well too bad, cuz we don’t give a Stag! Roger Bowling fans get you pitchforks ready for forkin’, cuz we’re out!