Two of Strikeforce's most exciting middleweights will duke it out this Saturday night (August 18, 2012) as Lumumba Sayers takes on Anthony Smith on the main card of Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman in San Diego, California.
Sayers has been on a roll, winning his last two fights both via impressive first round finish. He blistered Antwain Britt in just 28 seconds and followed it up by manhandling the durable Scott Smith and scoring another first round submission victory. Now, he's hoping to impress on the main stage.
Anthony Smith is a fighter who guarantees excitement. He looks for the knockout from start to finish and he has a major "finish or be finished" mentality. He's been on the giving and receiving end of a pair of brutal knockouts in his Strikeforce career and is coming off a two-fight win streak outside the promotion to build his confidence back up.
Can Sayers put Smith down for the count? Will Smith's heavy hands present a major problem for Sayers? What's the key to victory for both men?
Let's find out:
Record: 6-2 overall, 2-1 in Strikeforce
Key Losses: Derek Brunson (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson)
How he got here: Lumumba Sayers got his start on the local Colorado circuit. After accumulating a pair of titles, he was invited to compete on the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson show against fellow top prospect Derek Brunson. He put up a good fight in what turned out to be a barnburner of a brawl, but was eventually knocked out.
The promotion thought enough of him to give Sayers a shot to not only compete on but headline Strikeforce Challengers 19 later that year against Antwain Britt. He rewarded the good faith by knocking Britt out badly inside the first 30 seconds of the fight.
Sayers was given another showcase bout against Scott Smith earlier this year and he dominated "Hands of Steel," tossing him around the canvas and eventually submitted the veteran inside the opening 90 seconds.
Now, he's being given another chance to showcase his skills and he doesn't want to disappoint.
How he gets it done: Sayers just needs to be confident in his skills and be aggressive. His opponent, Anthony Smith, has a major "finish or be finished" mentality. If Sayers doesn't lose his composure, this fight is his for sure. Smith is going to wade in throwing bombs. What Sayers needs to do is avoid getting into a wild slugfest, stay patient and then explode at the first sign of a big opening.
Smith is so aggressive that the opening will be coming sooner rather than later, similar to his fight against Adlan Amagov where he got leveled by a huge haymaker.
Record: 16-8 overall, 1-1 in Strikeforce
Key Wins: none
How he got here: Anthony Smith has fought all over the regional circuit for years. It's crazy to think he's just 24 years old, but with just a four and a half year fighting career under his belt, he's already fought a ridiculous 24 times. Even crazier is the fact that he's never been to a decision in his entire career.
After a rough 5-6 start to his professional career, Smith put it all together, began to control his aggression and starting destroying his opponents. A solid stretch of winning eight out of nine fights brought him to Strikeforce Challengers where he would plaster Ben Lagman via knockout in the second round.
He earned a crack at Adlan Amagov for his next bout, but found himself on the receiving end of a nasty haymaker. Since then, he's fought outside Strikeforce and picked up a pair of stoppage wins to get back on the promotion's radar. Now, he'll be fighting Sayers on national television.
How he gets it done: Key word: Brawl.
Smith needs to force Sayers out of his comfort zone. Sayers got dragged into a brawl against Derek Brunson and found himself on the receiving end of a knockout. Smith lives for the brawl. He's comfortable there and able to trade blow for blow.
If he can put enough pressure on Sayers and force him to make a mistake, he can definitely capitalize. He's fought in three times as many fights so he's got the experience edge even if Sayers has fought overall tougher competition.
Fight X-Factor: With the way both of these guys fight and the power both men possess. This fight could simply come down to who lands the first heavy strike to the chin. Both men have been hurt with strikes and both men are capable of landing that killshot.
Whoever finds that opening and can connect first, as long as they stay with it and showcase killer instinct, they'll be the victor.
Bottom Line: There are 32 fights combined between these two men, and zero have gone to decision. These guys may not be household names, but they are guaranteed excitement and that's the key reason they're being featured on the main card. Somebody is going down and it's almost certainly going to be one of the show's highlights. Bon appetite.
Who will come out on top at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!