Strikeforce 'Tate vs. Rousey' fight card: K.J. Noons vs Josh Thomson prediction, preview and breakdown

Josh Thomson (L) laughs at the Rick Santorum-esque sweater vest of K.J. Noons (R) at a recent Strikeforce media event. Thomson will attempt to punish Noons with repeated punches to the face later tonight for his fashion faux pas.

Two tough 155-pound battlers with a nice style complement will square off tonight (March 3, 2012) in the Strikeforce: "Tate vs. Rousey" co main event on Showtime from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

K.J. Noons, who is sliding backward toward middle-of-the-pack status in Strikeforce's relatively modest lightweight ranks, will take on former Lightweight champion Josh Thomson, a tough customer with hard-nosed wrestling who can dominate most foes.

The winner of the bout is expected to next contend for the lightweight belt that Gilbert Melendez has held firmly since April 2009. And one that he beat "The Punk" in a rematch to capture in the first place.

Is a future trilogy match between Melendez and Thomson brewing here? Absolutely. But, "King Karl" will have a thing or two to say about that later this evening before the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion can even think about making that fight happen later this year.

Follow me after the jump for a complete breakdown of the Strikeforce fight between K.J. Noons vs. Josh Thomson:

The Breakdown

Noons needs to keep this on the feet, plain and simple.

Thomson can almost surely win it with a handful of takedowns, closing the gap, avoiding damage, and simply making Noons work to stay upright could also tire out Noons. Thomson's on a different level than Noons, who'll have to execute a perfect fight to win, here.

Thomson will also be able to work leg kicks as Noons tries to counter and pick spots from midrange -- Thomson's kickboxing is very good and he uses it to set up clinch and takedown attempts quite nicely.

The Pick

Noons is tough and has waged some memorable battles, with a game that's probably as good as it's going to get. Earlier in his career, I thought Thomson was a lock to develop into one of the game's best lightweights. Injuries and mileage have hampered that, but he's still an outstanding fighter, and in a different class than Noons. One good thing about Thomson is that he's always looking to play to his own strengths, and if that means wrasslin' a guy down and risking some boos from the crowd while he sets himself up to beat you silly, that's perfectly fine with him.

He is great at taking the initiative away from lower-level opponents and simply running them out of gas.

Looking back at Noons' five-round decision loss to Nick Diaz in their rematch, it's impressive that Noons was able to stand in front of Diaz that much and not get flustered. His ability to box and use angles is fantastic. But, Thomson's not going to be having any more of that than he needs, and his wrestling will force Noons to temper his own striking in anticipation of Thomson's tie-ups and takedown attempts.

Noons is tough and will probably pop back up and fight off several of these. But Thomson will simply keep pressing, and will win this one big, pounding on and working K.J. over in a bloody, one-sided stoppage in the third.

Thomson via technical knockout

Be sure to join later this evening for LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the Strikeforce main card action, which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 8:00 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Showtime Extreme.

See you then!

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