This is it, fight fans, MMAmania.com's last prediction column for Strikeforce. You know what T.S. Eliot said about banging and whimpering, so let's just get it over with.
Strikeforce is all set to limp across the finish line with its very last Showtime-televised fight card, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow night (Jan. 12, 2013) at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
"Marquardt vs. Saffiedine" will feature Nate Marquardt defending his 170-pound title in the main event against veteran "Sponge," Tarec Saffiedine, while Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett get tune-up fights prior to their expected transition to the ranks of UFC.
Let's just get this over with, shall we?
Nostradumbass predicts: As evidenced by his win over Tyron Woodley last year, Nate Marquardt has never looked better as a fighter, which I find unintentionally hilarious.
Neither did Antonio Silva, who once told the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) he was spending around five grand a month to stay healthy and he couldn't compete without it. What happened when he said goodbye to the test? He beat Fedor Emelianenko.
Anyway, back to Nate.
I thought he was a "Great" middleweight, despite his tendency to lay an egg in close fights, like he did against Thales Leites and Yushin Okami. But when he's on? Look out. I know his finish over "T-Wood" is all the rage, but remember that Mortal Kombat combo finish on Wilson Gouveia?
That shit was cray-zayyyyyyyy. And bonus points for knocking out Juiceimar Palhares.
Saffiedine is a young, durable fighter with a pretty good submission game. Unfortunately, he's only had one finish in his last nine fights, which just so happens to be the only knockout of his career. He's also been scooping from the bottom of the barrel until very recently and those performances are not enough to convince me he can hang with a guy who's fought top talent like Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva.
And Marquardt has nearly twice as many finishes as "The Sponge" has wins.
Expect a spirited affair right out of the gate, but sooner or later the champion will find his groove and put this one to bed. Consider it practice for what is likely to be an exciting run among UFC welterweights.
Final prediction: Marquardt def. Saffiedine via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: I know this is mixed martial arts (MMA) and anything can happen and yadda-yadda-yadda, but c'mon, this is a squash match, and it's not disrespectful to Dion Staring to say it.
The proof is in the pudding.
Cormier is a former Olympic wrestler and like Ben Askren has proven time and time again, when an Olympian wants a takedown, there is no one in combat sports who can stop him. In addition, "DC" blew through two of the top heavyweights in the game in Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva to remain undefeated.
Staring's career highlight is getting subbed by Little Nog.
In most fight predictions, I try to present a fair and balanced case for each competitor. When I can't, I straight-up troll. In this case, one of the few times in the sad and sordid history of my Nostradumbass fight picks, I'm unable to do either.
Unless "DC" gets hurt warming up or catches the flu, he's going to roll over this guy.
Even worse for the experienced "Solider," who's been cramming for this exam with the Blackzilians, Cormier's going to do it in the opening frame. Why screw around on the feet and risk having the golden goose fly away? Takedown, mount, ground-and-pound.
See you in Vegas.
Final prediction: Cormier def. Staring via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: I could probably just copy and paste the Cormier pick and put a bunch of strikethroughs across all the names because this one isn't much different. We have a top 10 heavyweight, proven on the big stage, taking on some Austrian meathead who's made a career out of beating up local talent.
Whatever pays the bills, I suppose.
Barnett has been known to act like a tool outside the cage, but inside it, he's money. Sure, a few of those career-defining wins have eluded him, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a heavyweight with a better fight I.Q., and I still rank his 2006 grand prix fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as one of the best 265-pound battles I've ever seen.
What can Nandor Guelmino offer him?
Not much, I'm afraid. "The Hun," unbeaten in his last seven, has a decent ground game, but Barnett -- a decorated grappler -- isn't getting subbed, that's for damn sure. As far as the knockout goes, just watch his fights against Sergei Kharitonov and Semmy Schilt to see what happens against top strikers.
Much like Cormier, he wants to make a good impression for the UFC brass, who may need some convincing considering the "Warmaster's" sketchy past.
A first round Kimura sounds about right.
Final prediction: Barnett def. Guelmino via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: Mike Kyle can win this fight. Gegard Mousasi is the more technical striker and has a terrific ground game, but his wrestling defense is so bad I sometimes can't tell if he's legitimately being taken down or just pulling guard, which wouldn't make much sense when he's winning on the feet.
And then there's that whole cardio thing...
I don't know if he's lazy or just doesn't train for the third round, but a guy with his abilities and experience should already be in UFC title contention. Mousasi has beaten scary strikers like Hector Lombard and Melvin Manhoef as well as crafty grapplers like Ronaldo Souza and Renato Sobral.
He's even smashed a few heavyweights in his spare time.
None of that means anything if he can't stop Kyle from taking him down. While "MAK" is huge and has frightening power, I don't think he's got the footwork to make magic happen against the Armenian, even though he's been able to hold his own in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight division.
You know, when he's not busy breaking his hand.
It wouldn't surprise me to see Kyle get lit up on his feet for the first few minutes before deciding to try his luck on the ground. He may find success initially, but may also get too comfortable and wind up in a fight-ending armbar or triangle choke.
Final prediction: Mousasi def. Kyle via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: The strategy for beating Ronaldo Souza used to be a stand-up attack, after he unfairly earned a reputation for "fighting like a girl." Unless it's a girl who can knock out middleweight wrestlers, that description is way off.
Just ask Derek Brunson.
Souza has kept himself at the top of the division by disposing of Robbie Lawler and Tim Kennedy in back-to-back fights. In fact, his only loss in the last four years is a razor-thin unanimous decision to 185-pound champion Luke Rockhold.
Don't let the promotion name fool you.
Ed Herman is being brought over from UFC as cannon fodder for the ridiculously-talented submission specialist, who now comes armed with dangerous hands. "Short Fuse" is a competent grappler in his own right, but he's not submitting an Abu Dhabi legend like "Jacare." Can he knock him out?
Possible, but not plausible.
In addition, the former "Ultimate Fighter" usually only beats the lower-tiered competitors like Tim Credeur and Clifford Starks, while falling to the upper echelon of his division like Alan Belcher and Demian Maia. I just haven't seen anything from Herman in recent years to suggest he has the tools to leave the "Sooner State" victorious.
Final prediction: Souza def. Herman via submission
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Sat., Jan. 12, 2013), 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 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Showtime Extreme.
To see all the odds and betting lines for tomorrow night's fights click here.
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for Strikeforce: "Marquardt vs. Saffiedine."