Strikeforce: 'Rockhold vs Jardine' predictions, preview and analysis

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As it turns out, the Strikeforce promotion is here to stay.

That means we get to kick off the organization's 2012 fight campaign from "Sin City," with a Showtime-televised fight card that pits UFC veteran Keith Jardine against reigning middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.

"The Dean of Mean" is making his 185-pound debut.

Also in action is former light heavyweight kingpin Muhammad Lawal, as "King Mo" looks for his second straight win by taking on top division prospect Lorenz Larkin.

And if you're a fan of flying fists, Robbie Lawler and Adlan Amagov will sling leather in a middleweight bout that is all but guaranteed to provide fireworks.

Or perhaps even a violent finish.

We can't say for sure, but we can certainly take our best guess. That's what you came here for, isn't it?

185 lbs.: Luke Rockhold (8-1) vs. Keith Jardine (17-9-2)

Nostradumbass predicts: Luke Rockhold is the easy pick here, but that has more to do with Keith Jardine's recent woes than it does Rocky's success. After all, how do you pick a guy to win when they're 3-6-1 over their last 10 fights? Especially when they're built like a Bondo Mystery Ape and have yet to prove they can make the cut and not gas out in their new weight class?

At a normal site, you can't. But since when is anything we do around here normal?

I like "The Dean of Mean" in this fight for a lot of reasons. Number one, he doesn't lose by submission, which account for six of Rockhold's eight wins. True, his doctor put him on a low-sodium diet to help balance out his intake of smelling salts, but frozen limbs aside, the guy happens to be a pretty tough customer.

And he hits hard.

I've seen Rockhold's striking on display for five rounds in his title win over Ronaldo Souza, his biggest win to date. But beating "Jacare" in the stand-up is like being the tallest kid in the lollipop guild. He's got serviceable hands; however, I predict he'll be confounded by "The Mean 1's" unorthodox striking style (go leg kicks!) and when Luke gets impatient and makes a mistake, he swallows a brick.

Jardine's conditioning won't be an issue. This one's over in the second round, if not sooner.

Prediction: Jardine def. Rockhold via technical knockout

185 lbs.: Robbie Lawler (18-8) vs. Adlan Amagov (9-1-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: The good news for Robbie Lawler is that when you share a fight card with Keith Jardine, no one will notice you're only 2-4 over your last six fights. The bad news for "Ruthless" is that every time he gets taken down, he turns into Joe Bonham.

It really shouldn't matter against Adlan Amagov, who hasn't submitted anyone in 10 professional fights, but in case the Russian gets clonked upside the head, it still might be prudent for Lawler to avoid jumping into his guard.

This one is all about the stand-up and I favor Amagov because I think he's a more diverse striker whereas Lawler seems content to just swing for the fences. I'm not sure how he'll deal with Robbie's footwork, which looked like some sort of half-assed square dance against Tim Kennedy, but leg kicks should be the first item on the menu.

I have to ask aloud, do you favor a guy who looks great against an assortment of fighters you can't pronounce? Or a guy who continues to look dreadful but has the hands to murk anyone at 185?

I'm picking the former because it's a three round fight and you don't have to be great, you just have to be better -- or at least busier -- than the guy across from you.

Prediction: Amagov def. Lawler via split decision

205 lbs.: Muhammed Lawal (8-1) vs. Lorenz Larkin (12-0)

Nostradumbass predicts: While he's known primarily for his wrestling, Muhammad Lawal has dangerous hands as well, which is why he has six (T)KO finishes in eight wins. I don't want to put too much stock in the loss to "Feijao," because that guy could upright a Sequoya with his power.

Still, I'm not crazy about the idea of seeing "King Mo" try to prove how good his hands are when the takedown is there. And by "there" I mean "any time he wants it."

That's by no means a knock on Lorenz Larkin, undefeated thus far in his career, but I don't think it's outrageous to suggest that when Lawal wants the takedown, he's getting it.

Against anybody.

That's pretty much how I see this fight playing out. Larkin is a talented striker and tough as nails, but rewind to the Mousasi fight to see how easily Lawal can neutralize a good banger. In addition, "The Monsoon's" level of competition hasn't exactly been elite and I just don't see him staying off the ground long enough to make this thing a fight.

I have King Mo by hugging and mugging.

Prediction: Lawal def. Larkin via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Jordan Mein (23-7) vs. Tyron Woodley (9-0)

Nostradumbass predicts: The MMA community has been down on Woodley over the past year or so after posting back-to-back decision wins over Tarec Saffiedine and Paul Daley. They turn on you very easily when you're a wrestler, but "T-Wood" also had six finishes in seven wins prior to emulating Georges St. Pierre, so he had set the bar pretty high for himself.

Having said that, I think he's in for a stiff test against Jordan Mein, who beat the brakes off Evangelista Santos back in September to run his winning streak to six straight, one that also includes victories over Marius Zaromskis, Josh Burkman and Joe Riggs.

The kid has got skills.

Unfortunately, most good fighters are dismantled by powerful wrestlers, and Woodley is about as good as they come in this division. How well he closes the distance and whether or not he can wear the "Young Gun" down against the cage are of primary importance.

Don't be surprised to see Mein fire off a couple of clean shots -- only to get taken down and mugged for the duration of the round. He's experienced and wily, but it's very hard to pick him over an NCAA Division I All-American.

Prediction: Woodley def. Mein via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Tarec Saffiedine (11-3) vs. Tyler Stinson (22-7)

Nostradumbass predicts: This is a great way to set the tone for the entire card as I expect Tarec Saffiedine and Tyler Stinson to put on "Fight of the Night." A lot of my colleagues point to the weak submission defense by Stinson, who has been subbed in five of his seven losses, but I don't think we'll see much of the ground game here.

Both fighters prefer to keep it upright and that's why Stinson loses.

He calls himself "The Evolution," but evolving from a guy who shadowboxes with his buddy in the kitchen to a mixed martial artist isn't that hard. Evolving into an elite fighter?

That takes some work.

Work that Saffiedine has clearly put in as both an MMA fighter and amateur kickboxer. "The Sponge" is a superior striker with a more dynamic offense and a solid chin. Stinson has power, but I think people are overestimating his chances in this fight based on the quick knockout he secured over Eduardo Pamplona last July.

We're probably looking at a close couple of rounds, but Saffiedine's technique will reign supreme over a tired Stinson in the third, securing a clear-cut unanimous decision victory.

Prediction: Saffiedine def. Stinson via unanimous decision

That's a wrap, folks.

Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of Strikeforce: "Rockhold vs. Jardine," beginning with the Showtime telecast at 10 p.m. ET on Jan. 7. In addition, we will deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the under card action much earlier on fight night.

Note: Showtime is offering a FREE preview weekend to start the New Year, which means that cable, as well as satellite subscribers, will be able to watch the network, including "Rockhold vs. Jardine," from Friday to Sunday at absolutely no charge.

What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.

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