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Strikeforce: 'Fedor vs Rogers' predictions, preview and analysis

Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Rogers" is set to go down this Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, from The Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill., live on CBS starting at 10 p.m. ET. will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night at this time, as well as deliver the latest quick results of all the under card action earlier in the evening.

To get us pumped for the event, Editor and Senior Writer Jesse Holland (that’s me) will break down the main event matches and take a closer look at the intricacies of each contest.

One of the big stories coming into this event is the historical significance of Strikeforce, cementing its place as a major player in the MMA market with a CBS prime time special.

What kind of numbers will the promotion do with a Russian cyborg fighting a former tire mechanic in the main event?

The main card also answers some questions about the credibility of Jason Miller and Jake Shields. Who's the contender and who's the pretender?

Antonio "Junior" Silva is making his return to the United States MMA scene after a falling out with the California State Athletic Commission in 2008. Will the grappling of Fabricio Werdum send him back to Japan?

And let’s not forget about Gegard Mousasi, who won the Strikeforce light heavyweight title from Renato Sobral but doesn't think Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou has earned the right to compete for it.

It's certainly going to be an interesting night of fights.

I’ve also included the current betting lines for each fight so that you can get a feel for what the money has to say about the chances of each combatant.

Now, enough with the formalities … let’s get cracking:

265 lbs.: Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko (30-1) vs. Brett "The Grim" Rogers (10-0)



Last five fights: 5-0
Notable wins: Was the meat in a former UFC heavyweight champion sandwich: Strangled Tim Sylvia and then knocked Andrei Arlovski while cashing checks at Affliction.
Notable losses: None.
Strengths: Fast for a heavyweight, ridiculous grappling, deceptively strong.
Weaknesses: Keeps getting the "W," but hasn't exactly looked invincible in recent fights.


Last five fights: 5-0
Notable wins: Played whack-a-mole with Andrei Arlovski, butchered some guy from BET.
Notable losses: None.
Strengths: He hits you, you fall down. Nothing scientific about it -- but it keeps working.
Weaknesses: Untested on the ground, stamina in late rounds is unknown.

Dumbass predicts: You want to tell me Fedor Emelianenko hasn't fought top competition in four years? No problem. Who the hell has Rogers fought? If your answer is Andrei Arlovski, remind yourself that "The Pitbull" also lost to Tim Sylvia -- twice. You remember Sylvia, the hulking platypus that was recently flattened by a geriatric pugilist in a Alabama motocross arena.

Now this isn't a Rogers smear campaign, because he does have the ability to win this thing. Anyone who doesn't think he has a chance should re-watch UFC 69: "Shootout." Guys who hit hard have the capability of ending it at any moment. Unfortunately, I don't think Fedor is planning on throwing leather. Remember Roy Nelson vs. Kimbo Slice? It's all about the gameplan. And trust me when I tell you Emelianenko is not interested in entertaining anyone. His goal is to win and that means getting this thing to the ground.

Now, Rogers talks a good game and I'm sure he has serviceable grappling skills, but we're talking about a man (Fedor) who for 10 years ruled the world of Combat Sambo. Fedor has done for Sambo what Georges St. Pierre has done for wrestling: He's applied it to mixed martial arts so effectively that it's re-written the rules for pulling guard. I'm not going to get caught up in all the hype about Fedor, I've seen him fight and I know what he can do. No matter if he dominates or gets in trouble, he finds ways to win.

I'm not going to get caught up in the hate either. He has holes in his game, but they're so difficult to exploit that I don't think a fighter with only 10 bouts to his name (Rogers) can expose them. Don't tell me Fedor's stand-up is garbage because Arlovski was getting the better of the striking for three minutes of their Affliction fight. Mark Hunt had a deep Kimura on him back at PRIDE: "Shockwave," does that mean his grappling sucks too? Fedor knocked Arlovski out, just as he submitted Hunt. There's nothing else to talk about. Ugly wins are still wins.

Rogers has been impressive and there is a bright future for him in this division. But you don't go from recycling cans to beating the best heavyweight on the planet just because you put Arlovski to bed in 22 seconds. I expect Fedor to come out with his typical lunge and use the right hand lead to get inside, tying up the big man. Size will not be an issue -- I've seen Fedor manhandle guys who outweigh "Grim" by 100 pounds. A brief struggle will find Rogers on his back and in immediate danger. An arm-lock should tidily wrap this thing up early in the first.

Betting lines (as of November 6):

Emelianenko: -550 ((Bet Now))

Rogers: +375 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Emelianenko via submission

185 lbs.: Jason "Mayhem" Miller (22-6) vs. Jake Shields (23-4-1)



Last five fights: 3-1 (1 NC)
Notable wins: Showed his experience against Tim Kennedy and Kala Hose.
Notable losses: Coughed up a decision loss to "Jacare" Souza.
Strengths: Hard to control, well rounded, experienced.
Weaknesses: More interested in being marketable than being a winner.


Last five fights: 5-0
Notable wins: Made it look easy against Robbie Lawler and Paul Daley.
Notable losses: None.
Strengths: Jits is as good as it gets, great cardio, hard worker.
Weaknesses: His striking isn't giving anyone nightmares.

Dumbass predicts: I guess there was a lack of camaraderie on the set of "Bully Beatdown," as these two put their cause aside to find out who will wear the vacant middleweight title now that Cung Le is a Hollywood hotshot. Shields is a good fighter who unfortunately can't seem to earn the label of "great" because his jiu-jitsu, for all it's gotten him, has left most of the MMA community with the impression he has the hands of T-Rex.

That could change very quickly if the Gracie disciple starts knocking people out. Unfortunately trying to put "Mayhem" to sleep is like trying to shut him up: It's damn near impossible. He might be the Robin Williams of MMA (is there and OFF switch?), but make no mistake about it, this guy can fight. Sometimes I get the feeling if he had the right focus he wouldn't be giving away fights, like he did against Ronaldo Souza at DREAM 4.

Having this fight on CBS will actually work in Shields favor, as I predict "Mayhem" will be too busy trying to entertain his "Monkeys" that he won't realize he's losing a decision until the fight is over. There probably won't be a lot of damage done to either fighter, but I do expect Shields to rack up the points as he rattles off multiple submission attempts.

He won't get to finish the wily Miller, but the few moments they spend on their feet won't be enough for "Mayhem" to do anything significant. This is all about staying out of the sub, and Miller will end up with a repeat of the aforementioned Souza fight.

Betting lines (as of November 6):

Miller: +220 ((Bet Now))

Shields: -300 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Shields via unanimous decision

205 lbs.: Gegard "The Dreamcatcher" Mousasi (26-2-1) vs. "The African Assassin" Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (7-4)



Last five fights: 5-0
Notable wins: Usurped Babalu's 205-pound title, proved good submissions are better than K-1 level striking against Manhoef and Hunt.
Notable losses: None.
Strengths: Crafty, calm under pressure, nice balance of boxing and submissions.
Weaknesses: Uh, non-title bout? Por Que?


Last five fights: 3-2
Notable wins: Stopped Jan Nortje and Bob Sapp in Japan -- though I would hardly call those "notable."
Notable losses: Punched out of the UFC by Luis Cane, submitted in his only Affliction appearance by Renato Sobral.
Strengths: Superb Judo, heavy hands, explosive.
Weaknesses: No gas tank, thinks sub defense is not ordering lunch at Blimpie.

Dumbass predicts: Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou — who’s turtle-tastic ground defense puts him on par with "Myrtle" Alexander, is coming into this bout riding a two-fight winning streak. Unfortunately those two wins came against Jan Nortje and Bob Sapp, two guys who are so brittle they could be felled by that little plastic hammer from the "Don't Break The Ice" game.

Sokoudjou has kettlebells for hands and a sensational Judo pedigree, unfortunately he doesn't know how to use them in conjunction with any kind of sensible gamplan. His uninspiring 1-2 run in the UFC was solidified by the Babalu loss in Affliction and there has been nothing from "The African Assassin" in the past two years for me to believe he has any kind of chance against Mousasi.

"The Dreamcatcher" has quietly strung together 13 straight wins -- and they weren't against Japanese tuna cans either. Now much like the Fedor fight, there is always the danger of getting knocked out for as long as this thing is on the feet. I believe Gegard has the better boxing, but if he learned anything from his mentor Fedor, it's to execute a gamplan that avoids your opponent's strengths and imposes yours.

Rameau has nothing going for him except the distant memory of two PRIDE upsets from 2007. It's not enough. This should be over early, if and when Mousasi can avoid the big bomb and take it to the ground, where Sokoudjou's guard will practically gift wrap a submission.

Betting lines (as of November 6):

Mousasi: -500 ((Bet Now))

Sokoudjou: +350 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Mousasi via submission

265 lbs.: Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum (12-4-1) vs. Antonio "Junior" Silva (13-1)



Last five fights: 3-2
Notable wins: Put a hurtin’ on Gabriel Gonzaga, stopped Brandon Vera with an assist from Dan Miragliotta.
Notable losses: Put to sleep by Junior dos Santos to get his UFC pink slip.
Strengths: Serviceable hands, excellent submissions, well rounded.
Weaknesses: Conditioning issues, easily rattled.


Last five fights: 5-0
Notable wins: Squeaked past Ricco Rodriguez, submitted "Big" Jim York.
Notable losses: None.
Strengths: Fast hands, good power, aggressive.
Weaknesses: Hasn't faced top competition.

Dumbass predicts: This is probably the one fight I'm looking forward to the most, largely in part because it will tell once and for all if Antonio Silva is the real deal or just a B-level bruiser. I personally think he can become elite -- if he can shake that Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em stand-up attack that while effective, won't hold water against top competition. And for my money, Werdum is top competition.

"Vai Cavalo" is a brilliant grappler, making a mockery of the higher seeds at September's Abu Dhabi Combat Club, but he's also been able to use his hands to stop guys like Brandon Vera and Gabriel Gonzaga. Yes, it left him a little sloppy against Junior Dos Santos, but that had as much to do with his conditioning as it did with not taking his fellow Brazilian seriously.

To me, that will pretty much dictate the outcome of this fight. If Werdum comes in healthy and in shape, he should be able to control the tempo of this fight and use his jits to keep the offense in his court. However if he's flabby and lost a step, Silva will push him around the cage and perhaps even stop him late in the fight. I for one and banking on Werdum getting the job done in training and as a result, in the cage too.

I doubt he can finish Silva, who is ridiculously strong and comes from a great camp, but he should be able to do enough to convince the judges this fight was his. Close, hard fought split in favor of Werdum.

Betting lines (as of November 6):

Werdum: -170 ((Bet Now))

Silva: +140 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Werdum via split decision

That’s a wrap, folks.

Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Fedor vs. Rogers."

What do you think? Now it’s your turn … let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for Saturday’s Strikeforce event.

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