Strikeforce: Carano Vs. Cyborg Predictions/Tips

Flying KneeCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2017

Well, here we are at last, Carano vs. Cyborg. After a series of disasters, Strikeforce have still managed to put together a decent fight card.
Three belts are on the line here: the interim lightweight belt, to be fought for between Mitsuhiro Ishida and Gilbert Mendelez, the light-heavyweight belt, contested by Rentao 'Babalu' Sobral and Gegard Mousasi, and the 145lb (doesn't this weight class have a true name yet?) belt between Gina Carano and Cristiane 'Cyborg' Santos.
All odds given as decimals, based on the total return that you receive, assuming that you place 1.00 down. I.e, 2.55 indicates that you will make a profit of 1.55 + your original 1.00 for every 1.00 you place.
One more note before we start, this time we're using odds, as bodog had some trouble getting the new lines in on time.

Jesse 'JT Money' Taylorvs. Jay 'The Thoroughbred' Hieron

Jesse Taylor

+State champion wrestler in junior college, NCAA Division I qualifier
+Fights at a hardcore pace
+Cannot be deterred with takedowns
+Good ground and pound

-Telegraphed shots
-Took the fight on less than a week's notice
-Very basic striking
-Grappling rudimentary

Jay Hieron

+National Junior College wrestling champion and State wrestling champion
+Significant height and reach
+Good footwork that makes great use of angles
+Hard and fast hitter

-Questionable chin
-Grappling could be improved
-Was training for a different opponent in Nick Diaz until last week


Hieron is certainly the more well rounded of the two when compared to the somewhat one-dimensional Taylor, but that won't come into play if Taylor forces Hieron into that one-dimension.

It seems like the wrestling is pretty even, with Hieron having a better Junior College record, but Taylor qualifying for NCAA division I after. It's worth noting that Hieron's wrestling career was stilted by marijuana use, however.

Given Taylor's frenzied pace and doggedness with takedowns, I would be surprised if we didn't see Hieron on his back for a while, but the question is will he be able to stand up?

If he can keep it standing, he really should take out Taylor.

My Take

Tough call, but I would expect Hieron to be able to keep this standing given his impressive wrestling pedigree and get the KO.

But with Hieron entering at 1.49 and Taylor at 2.65, it wouldn't be prudent to back Hieron on his own. Parlay, perhaps.

Mitsuhiro 'Endless Fighter' Ishida vs. Gilbert 'El Nino' Mendelez

Mitsuhiro Ishida

+Very good wrestler
+Nearly unsubmittable
+Excellent top control
+Some of the best cardio in the business
+Considerable strength and athleticism advantage
-Very in-aggressive from top position, with 13 of his wins coming by decision
-Took fight on short notice
-Not a good striker
-Telegraphed shots

Notable Wins:
Gilbert Mendelez (2007)
Marcus Aurelio (2006)

Gilbert Mendelez

+Good striking that packs a punch
+Dangerous off his back
+Good at standing back up
+Good wrestler

-Sometimes brawls
-Was training for Josh Thomson until the end of July


Ishida-Mendelez No.1 ended in a unanimous, but hard fought, decision for the Endless Fighter. Has that much changed? Can Mendelez resist Ishida's static ground control?

He didn't do a good job of keeping his feet against Ishida the first time, so I'm sure that's something he's working on. He had some decent attempts off his back in the first fight, so he'll obviously try and repeat that.

One thing that is being ignored is that this fight is taking place in a cage, and while fighters that come from Japanese promotions don't have a great reputation for doing great in cages, wrestlers do, and I think Ishida has a secret advantage in this regard.

But there is another severe disadvantage. American promotions have five five minute rounds for title fights, and each on of those rounds starts standing.

Even still, Mendelez will almost certainly spend at least 80 percent of the fight on his back in this fight if it goes any length of time, so he'll need to work on his submissions/sweeps, because I don't see Ishida making the same mistake he did against Hirota.

My Take

Ishida by split decision, taking down Mendelez with the aid of the cage, avoiding the standup and escaping the submissions, to become the Strikeforce lightweight champion in a fast paced but dull fight.

Bizarrely enough, Ishida is the underdog, entering at a whopping 2.55, compared to Mendelez' 1.54. Somewhat reminiscent of the odds from Liddell-Rampage 2.

Gegard Mousasi vs. Renato 'Babalu' Sobral

Gegard Mousasi

+Excellent technical boxing/kickboxing, being a Dutch amateur boxing champion
+Highly strategic fighter
+Very competent on the ground

-Questionable takedown defense and wrestling in general

Renato Sobral

+Jiu Jitsu black belt
+Very persistent with takedowns
+Decent striking
+Very aggressive from top position

-Too happy to pull guard
-Low quality takedowns


Babalu has a considerable advantage on the ground, Mousasi has a considerable advantage standing. Mousasi's respective advantage is Babalu's weakness, who has but three (T)KO's to his name, one of which was a cut stoppage.

Mousasi however has nine submissions to his name, including Jiu Jitsu black belt Denis Kang. His half guard did a very good job of clamping down on Jacaré's grappling, for the minute or so that there was of it, and Jacaré is light-years ahead of Babalu in terms of pure Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
I think he'll survive the ground game a lot easier than Sobral will survive the stand-up game.
Sobral will probably try to smother him in attempts to get takedowns, but I don't see him doing much with them even if they are successful - not enough to prevent Mousasi earning a stand-up at least. Also, while Sobral is a good wrestler, Mousasi's footwork and Babalu's lack thereof will make it more difficult for the Brazilian to close the distance.

My Take

Mousasi by TKO, Round Two, becoming the new Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion. Mousasi's striking is better than Sobral's in every way, and I think this will be critical during the times that they are exchanging.

Mousasi enters at 1.38, while Babalu comes in at 3.00. As a general rule, it's very hard to justify backing Mousasi at those odds by himself.

With that said, I'll take Mousasi at a parlay with Jay Hieron, because I don't see Babalu winning this at all.

Gina 'Conviction' Carano vs. Cristiane 'Cyborg' Santos

Gina Carano

+Good sprawl, having trained at Extreme Couture
+Throws down hard
+Good ground and pound
+Successful Muay Thai background

-Defense too open
-Offensive wrestling weak
-Has severe problems making weight



Cristiane Santos

+Knockout power
+Significant strength advantage
+Accurate shots, at least at first
+Good Muay Thai clinch

-Not a good wrestler
-Low-skill grappler
-Could improve cardio
-Has severe problems making weight



This is the first women's MMA bout I've predicted. Well, same rules apply.

Santos is a Chute Boxe fighter, and that usually means two things: ferocious aggressive striking, and primitive combinations.
Can't say Cyborg really strays too far from the stereotype, having never lost a bout on the feet, and having all seven wins come by way of (T)KO. Having only lost once by submission, seven fights ago (Santos' debut), Cyborg seems to be the archetypal Chute Boxer.
Carano is pretty well versed in Muay Thai as well, and has won three fights by (T)KO, and one by submission, but still doesn't punch the same force as the Brazilian. And I'm going to guess this stays standing, since neither Carano nor Santos have much wrestling pedigree, and they match up fairly even in size so no one will get ragdolled.
Seems like the old stereotypical battle of power and ferocity vs. technique and strategy.

My Take

This is closer than the odds indicate. If Cyborg wins, it'll have to either first or second round TKO, because I see Carano having a distinct cardio advantage come round three—the Chute Boxe style is not beneficial to cardio.

Very difficult to decide, but I think Carano should have enough defense to avoid getting KO'd, and should win the rest of the fight, getting a TKO in the fourth.

Carano enters in at 2.50, while Cyborg at 1.53, so Carano is a very live underdog.


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