Two of Strikeforce's most lethal stand up fighters will collide this Saturday night (Jan. 7, 2012) as "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler takes on flashy Russian striker Adlan Amagov in the co-main event of Strikeforce: "Rockhold vs. Jardine" in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Lawler, one of the most feared and powerful punchers in the promotion, is currently reeling from two consecutive losses against Ronaldo Souza and Tim Kennedy, two of the best middleweights in the promotion. He does not want to be a stepping stone for the Russian prospect, so expect him to give it his all.
Amagov's highlight reel is as entertaining as anyones, and he's capable of dishing out pain from any direction. Whether he's jumping, spinning or firmly planted, expect something flashy and amazing when he steps into the cage. He's gearing up to legitimize himself in the Strikeforce middleweight division, and there's no better way than to score a big victory over a UFC veteran and former Strikeforce title challenger.
Will Lawler's experience and power be too much for the rising prospect? Does Amagov have anything in his bag of tricks to catch "Ruthless" Robbie off guard? What does each man have to do to secure victory on Saturday night?
Let's find out:Robbie Lawler
Record: 18-8 (1 No Contest) overall, 2-4 in Strikeforce
How he got here: After first getting scouted at a Hawaiian MMA event in his fourth professional fight, Lawler was pegged as the next golden boy of the UFC. He got off to a great start with the Ultimate Fighting Championships with three straight wins but a tough stretch of three losses out of four fights would end his time with the world's largest promotion.
Lawler would spend the next two years building himself back up, eventually fighting for and winning the EliteXC middleweight title from Murilo Rua in 2007. He would successfully defend his title once before the promotion folded.
The H.I.T. Squad fighter would lose his Strikeforce promotional debut to Jake Shields but would rebound in an incredible comeback performance against Melvin Manhoef. After losing a very close decision to former light heavyweight Ranato Sobral at a 195 lb. catchweight, Lawler would go on to absolutely destroy Matt Lindland in another of 2010's nastiest knockouts.
The victory would earn him a title shot against Strikeforce middleweight champion "Jacare" Souza and Lawler would hold his own with the incredibly gifted fighter for over two rounds but would eventually be overwhelmed by the Brazilian's strength on the ground, succumbing to a third round submission.
Lawler accepted a bout with Tim Kennedy which had middleweight title contendership on the line. In that fight, the "Ruthless" fighter was tentative and didn't do nearly enough to impress the judges as he would go on to lose a unanimous decision. Now, he'll have to test his mettle against one of the most exciting rising prospects in the promotion.
How he gets it done: Robbie Lawler is a decent wrestler but it's the power in both of his fists that make him deadly. No matter if he's down on the cards, he'll always have that threat of the one-punch knockout.
Lawler will have to try and keep the proper distance with Amagov. While he's got insane power in both hands, he's primarily limited to punches and that means that he can't get too far away from Amagov or he'll be eating kick after kick with no way to counter.
Expect the former EliteXC champion to pressure Amagov with footwork, cutting off escape routes and hopefully forcing him to make a mistake that he can capitalize on. Something that shouldn't surprise fans one bit is if Lawler dips back into his wrestling roots. He's put time in both at Power MMA and H.I.T. Squad in the past year, and while Amagov has a pretty solid judo base, he could be susceptible to takedowns and top control.
Lawler will need to use all his tricks to win this fight.
Record: 9-1-1 overall, 2-0 in Strikeforce
Key Losses: Alexey Oleinik (PRMF: Professional Cup)
How he got here: Adlan Amagov hails from Mother Russia and jumped into mixed martial arts with both feet, taking on top Russian heavyweight submission specialist Alexei Oleinik in his first career bout. Oleinik was simply too big, too experienced and too technically sound in the submission department and he was quickly overwhelmed via first round Ezekial choke.
Nearly a year later, Amagov returned as a light heavyweight and got back on track, winning his next five straight including a brutal spinning hook kick knockout of Maskhat Akhmetov. He finished 2010 with two straight knockouts to punch his ticket to Strikeforce.
Upon his arrival, he easily defeated Ronald Stallings via decision, but somehow was only awarded a split due to suspect judging. Regardless, he soldiered on, slaughtering Anthony Smith with a right haymaker from hell, followed by the knockout blow with a single punch on the ground. Strikeforce felt it was time to quit babying him and he's getting a shot at one of the promotions biggest middleweight stars in Robbie Lawler on Saturday night.
How he gets it done: Amagov is a wildcard. He's got a ton of different kicking attacks in his arsenal and he's not afraid to use them, whether they are hook kicks, spinning back kicks, axe kicks, you name it. The kick that would likely work wonders for him against Lawler would be the simple inside leg kick. Melvin Manhoef destroyed Lawler's lead leg with repeated inside leg kicks in the first quarter of 2010, and it's highly unlikely that Lawler's improved his defense since then.
If he can slow Lawler down to a hobble, then it will be time to pounce with everything else. The wily Russian proved in his last fight that he also has some serious power in his hands if he can actually land his wild attacks. They Key for Amagov will be to get his strikes off without eating any major blows from Lawler. "Ruthless" Robbie may be limited, but he's still incredibly dangerous.
Expect to see Amagov pick Lawler apart from the outside and only come in hard and heavy once he feels it's a lock for him.
Fight X-Factor: The X-Factor for this fight is Robbie Lawler's mindset as a fighter. If he comes out as the confident destroyer of worlds that smashed Matt Lindland, he could put the pressure on Amagov and score a big knockout victory. If he comes out tentative like his last fight, he's going to get eaten alive. Against Tim Kennedy, he looked like a completely different fighter, looking merely to survive the full 15 minutes rather than win. He needs to channel his old school Lawler style if he wants to be victorious.
Bottom Line: Any fight with Adlan Amagov is going to be exciting. This guy is capable of literally anything in the striking department whether it's wild spinning kicks, punches or any other form of doing damage with flailing limbs. If Robbie Lawler comes to fight, this has potential to be one of the most entertaining and diverse slugfests of 2012. As long as this fight is standing, there's potential that it's going to be incredible. Neither is the most active on the ground, so it could slow down if either man takes it to the canvas, but don't blink when they're trading blows.
Who will come out on top at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!