Strikeforce is all set to kick off its latest Showtime televised fight card, emanating from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California, headlined by a championship title fight between 135-pound titleholder Ronda Rousey taking on former division queenpin Sarah Kaufman.
It all goes down tomorrow night (Aug. 18, 2012) at 10 p.m. ET on the cable television network.
Also looking to reclaim a lost belt will be middleweight submission master Ronaldo Souza. "Jacare" can't get his hands on gold, however, until he first disposes of Derek Brunson, who's likely on a mission to make a name for himself at the Brazilian's expense.
Could we have two submission finishes in the main and co-main events?
From the striking side of things, Tarec Saffiedine will punch and kick his way to bigger and better things within the 170-pound division. That is, unless the stylings of Roger Bowling give him pause in their 170-pound scrap on the televised main card.
After the jump, your old pal Nostradumbass weighs in with his best guesses for all the main card action. Whose goose gets cooked in "America's Finest City?"
Follow me after the jump to find out.135 lbs.: Ronda Rousey (5-0) vs. Sarah Kaufman (15-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Ever since Steve Cantwell folded up Razak Al-Hassan in the same manner George Jetson's car folds into a briefcase, I've been unable to watch gory submission finishes, including the two most recent joint-jamming efforts from Frank Mir and Ronda Rousey.
That said, I'll be sure to miss Sarah Kaufman getting all bent out of shape over her submission loss tomorrow night.
I'm picking Rousey to retain her bantamweight belt, begrudgingly, because I think the hype train has spun way out of control with this gal. Is she talented? Yes. Can she beat any woman in her division? Undoubtedly. But that's probably because there are less than five 135-pound female fighters that you can name without an hour of online research.
Go ahead, rattle them off.
The "Rowdy" one is a former Olympian, which already puts her in a class by herself. Her striking is serviceable, at best, but since no one currently competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) has the background or skill set to keep her from taking them down, ground work is a foregone conclusion.
So is the armbar.
That's what makes a "Cyborg" fight so intriguing, because the Brazilian may be the only one strong enough to keep it standing, where she, like Rousey on the mat, is lethal.
But that's another fight for another time.
The bottom line here is Kaufman is super-talented at 15-1 and is easily one of the top female fighters in the world. But her lone loss came by way of armbar and she's facing a ground expert who's won all five fights by using that submission in the first round.
Kaufman has a bunch of knockouts to her credit, but she won't be upright long enough for it to matter.
Final prediction: Rousey def. Kaufman via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: Derek Brunson takes a major step up in competition this weekend by taking on former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo Souza. Brunson earned his shot at the former champ by pounding out guys like Rhomez Brower and Danny "Bad Boy" Babcock.
You know, household names.
Brunson burner was torched by Kendall Grove after taking a short notice fight at that ShoFight event you already forgot about back in June. Beating up regional talent and getting bit by "Da Spyder" -- even on four days notice -- doesn't leave me with a ton of confidence heading into tomorrow night's bout.
He just doesn't match up very well.
While the North Carolina native has knockout power, he doesn't have the finesse Souza has on the feet, which may sound funny when talking about a grappling phenom, but he proved in his dance with Tim Kennedy he's got the chops to stand and bang with the best Strikeforce has to offer.
And if Robbie Lawler couldn't knock "Jacare" out, neither can Brunson.
That means he's got to rely on his NCAA Division II wrestling credentials, but I'm not sure you want to roll with a guy whose nickname is "Alligator." It might have something to do with all those submission wins at Abu Dhabi, but that's just a guess.
Brunson may be strong enough to keep from getting subbed, but he's only got 15 minutes to land a knockout punch. And I didn't see anything in decision wins over Jeremy Hamilton and Nate James to lead me to believe it's gonna happen.
Final Prediction: Souza def. Brunson via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Roger Bowling was supposed to be the next big thing at 170 pounds. Unfortunately, Bobby Voelker didn't get the memo, knocking out the "Relentless" one in two out of three fights over the past couple of years. Now that he's come back down to earth, he's got to start from scratch.
Bowling is riding consecutive knockout wins over Jerron Peoples and Brandon Saling, so he definitely has momentum on his side. And since he turns 30 years old before the year is through, he's going to need it. The good news is, Strikeforce is short on talent, so a couple of wins is all you need to be "in the mix."
Same goes for Saffiedine.
"The Sponge" faltered in his big money match-up against Tyron Woodley after "T-Wood" wrestled his way to the judges' scorecards, but like Bowling, he's been able to come back and win his next two fights. From a technical standpoint, he's by far and away the better striker.
He also has an underrated submission game.
I'm trying to envision an area where Bowling is superior and I'm coming up empty. If this was a decathlon, perhaps I'd lean his way, but when it comes to MMA, I think he gets outclassed and put on his butt somewhere in the second stanza.
Final prediction: Saffiedine def. Bowling via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: Seriously, who the hell are these people? It's hard to keep up with all the names and faces these days the way ZUFFA is cranking out fight cards and well, sometimes talent slips through the cracks. Sayers debuted with a submission loss to Derek Brunson on the same card that saw Fedor Emelianenko get knocked out by Dan Henderson, which is probably why I don't remember it.
I do remember his strangling of Scott Smith.
Unfortunately I can't get overly excited about that win, as "Hands of Steel" is basically one punch away from adult diapers. I will, however, give him credit for hitting the kill switch 30 seconds into his fight against Antwain Britt late last year.
What does Smith have to offer?
Well, he did just knock out a guy who weighs 300 pounds and went 2-12 over the past two years during an event named Disorderly Conduct: "Fireworks" last June in Nebraska. "Lionheart" also has Strikeforce experience, going 1-1 with a knockout win over Ben Lagman -- followed by a knockout loss to Adlan Amagov.
These two are bound to make it exciting because there is very little at stake here, so the only way to get noticed is to win -- and win big. That's good news for the fans but bad news for Smith, as Sayers scores the jaw-jacking finale early in the opening frame.
Final prediction: Sayers def. Smith via knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: Ovince St. Preux has actually done an admirable job of keeping himself relevant in the Strikeforce light heavyweight division, which has a lot to do with his performance against Gegard Mousasi last December.
What got him there?
Eight straight wins scattered across the last 24 months, with victories over MMA veterans such as Jason Day and Benji Radach, among others. He's clearly demonstrated an ability to hang 10, but he can't just ride the waves anymore if he wants to graduate to bigger and better things within the division.
He needs a finish.
Cook won't make it easy, despite getting choked out in his Strikeforce appearance last November. He has heavy hands and put nine of his 12 victims to the floor by way of knockout or technical knockout. The biggest criticism for him to date is his record, as it's populated with a who's-that of regional talent.
Ariel Gandulla? Geno Roderick?
Anyway, this is St. Preux's fight to lose. He's the better athlete and can probably wear Cook down over the course of three rounds, using his wrestling to avoid the knockout blow en route to grinding out yet another win on the judges' scorecards.
Final prediction: St. Preux def. Cook via unanimous decision
That's a wrap, folks.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime. The latest quick updates of the under card action will begin to flow earlier than that around 8 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on SHO Extreme.
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tonight's event.