Strikeforce 39 comes to you live tomorrow night from Columbus, Ohio and features Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey for the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight title with a co-headliner of KJ Noons vs. Josh Thomson in a potential Lightweight title eliminator.
The main event almost got off to an early start at today's weigh-ins.
With that in mind, one can bet on this card being one of the most emotionally charged and most insanely action-packed cards in Strikeforce history.
Enough of the talking, though.
Here now are some final predictions for tomorrow night's Showtime card.
Lumumba Sayers is a phenomenal sort, despite a 6-2 record with two submission losses, but the kid is young and has already built himself a sweet rep in such a short time.
After all, he did stop Antwain Britt in his opponent's ,iddleweight debut, and he showed some considerable power in his hands in the process.
He goes up against Scott Smith this Saturday night, and while Smith is still no joke, he's on a three-fight skid which includes his most recent loss to Tarec Saffiedine and losses to the likes of Paul Daley and Cung Le.
Smith was, at one point, considered the “Arturo Gatti” of MMA, even more so than some others who have been known to take a licking and come back strong in fights
While Smith’s not in the twilight of his career, he’s also not the same fighter he used to be.
If this one is going to end, the only way it ends is by Sayers picking his moments to strike and likely countering one of Smith’s shots with a heavy one of his own, thus earning a big win and causing Smith to re-evaluate some things in his head.
Winner: Sayers by KO (Punch) in Round 1
Jacare Souza was supposed to get Derek Brunson, but “failed medicals” were the reason given for why Brunson had to pull out, even though the dude wears contacts.
Hey, so do I, dude. No shame in the contacts game.
Nevertheless, Brunson is out and newcomer Bristol Marunde is in, and Marunde brings in a pretty good record with five wins by submission, so there is a chance that Marunde can implement a sound wrestling game on Jacare—the guy does have some good takedowns, actually.
However, Jacare always has had and always will have the edge on the ground, just because he knows how to turn a bad situation into a horrible situation for any fighter that has to face him, whether it’s on the ground or on the feet.
It also doesn’t favor Marunde that Luke Rockhold was responsible for the most recent loss of Jacare’s career, so he’ll have to bring out everything including the kitchen sink and the refrigerator in order to defeat Jacare, but when all is said an done, whatever strengths Marunde had over other fights—they will ultimately work their way into Jacare’s game plan.
Winner: Jacare Souza by third-round submission (Rear-Naked Choke)
This is the one I’ve been waiting for quite a while.
Kazuo Misaki has been riding on the strength of a two-fight winning streak, as is Paul Daley, but this bout is very intriguing because both bring an exciting style to the cage.
Misaki is known for taking fighters down, maintaining his composure throughout his bouts, holding his own in exchanges and actively looking for submissions whenever he sees the opportunity.
Misaki is a beast and he has as good a shot as anyone to get it done against Daley.
However, his chin’s never been touched by a fighter that can land one on the button like Daley can, and after losing unanimously to Tyron Woodley, it’s likely that Daley will finally step it up with his takedown defense.
The question is—will the takedown defense actually show up when it counts?
Daley always has that chance, but if Misaki can take him down, a submission is more likely, and unless history deceives me, it will not result in a win for Daley unless the Brit can show some insane jiu-jitsu.
Even still, expect Misaki to get this one on the ground and improve to a three-fight win streak close to the end of this fight, thus proving his skeptics wrong and proving that he can deliver a win inside the States despite “the curse of the Japanese fighters."
Winner: Kazuo Misaki by third-round submission (Rear-Naked Choke)
KJ Noons is coming off of a win over Billy Evangelista, and he’s already about to be at least one or two wins away from a title shot (one or less with a win on Saturday), but Josh Thomson is standing in his way with no signs of going away anytime soon.
“The Punk” is always a game opponent, regardless of who is standing in front of him.
Despite what some may say about his fight with Gesias Cavalcante, he did have a nice win streak going for himself before running into Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Since the Kawajiri fight, Thomson has been sidelined, so to see what he will be able to do in his first fight in over a year will be interesting.
We will have ourselves a chance to see what he has worked on ever since the Kawajiri fight—despite the injury that prevented him from facing Maximo Blanco in September.
Thomson is a bit more well-rounded as a fighter than Noons, who has improved in areas but has always been seen more for his boxing than anything else.
In this fight, the safe bet is on the time-off for Thomson proving to be a bit more taxing than some would like, resulting in Noons having his way with Thomson and coming out with the upset victory.
Winner: KJ Noons by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Miesha Tate won the bantamweight title from Marloes Coenen in one of the most exciting women’s MMA bouts of 2011, and she’s now set to make the first defense of the gold against Olympic Bronze Medalist and undefeated 4-0 Judoka “Rowdy" Ronda Rousey.
Rousey has won all four of her professional bouts in the first round and by way of armbar, but she has never had to try and score a quick first-round submission in under a minute against a wrestler with the ability to overpower and submit people like champion Tate.
In one of the sexiest and most hotly-anticipated bouts of the year, the tagline is true: “It’s not just the looks that can kill”.
Both women may be two of the hottest looking women in MMA, but for all their looks and their sex appeal, this bout is still a classic case of a judoka against a wrestler in a bout between two women who just cannot seem to like one another, even if it’s only just to get us to watch the fight.
Still, you can be as hot as you want, but when you’re 4-0 as a pro fighter and the longest it’s taken you to submit someone was when you earned one of your submission wins by armbar in 57 seconds, that still raises a lot of questions, and against an experienced fighter like Tate, that’s likely to be a problem.
Both girls can get it if the fight hits the ground, but if it’s going to the ground without a knockdown, Tate’s built up enough of a sound awareness for submissions to the point that she’ll pick her shots on the ground and find a way to walk out with her gold.
Strap yourselves in, boys. This one is going to be crazy.
Winner: Miesha Tate by late fourth-round submission (armbar)
Knockout of The Night: Lumumba Sayers
Submission of The Night: Miesha Tate
Fights of The Night: Daley vs. Misaki and Tate vs. Rousey (If it goes past the second round and I hope it does.)