After what feels like a week away (it's only been three days) battling the flu, health has finally returned to me enough to climb back behind my keyboard to hit you with some Punch Drunk Predictions for tonight's historic Strikeforce fight card.
Last week was a busy week for the PDP's. After my 5-5 performance at UFC 101, I vowed to deliver eight wins from WEC 42, and d'you know what?
Eight wins and three losses, bringing the record a little closer to respectability and making me feel good about my picks for this card, which is full of fights that could certainly go either way.
Mike Kyle (12-6-1) vs. Fabricio Werdum (11-4-1)
Kyle reminded me of a bigger version of Drew McFedries; he's got lethal knockout power and some decent wins, but he never seems to string together impressive performances.
As for Werdum, this will be his first opportunity to erase the memory of Junior dos Santos literally knocking him out of the UFC back in October. And while Kyle has the punching power to deliver a repeat, the former Pride and UFC veteran has too much experience to let that happen again.
Jay Hieron (17-4-0) vs. Jesse Taylor (13-3-0)
I've got to give it up to Jesse Taylor for a minute.
Since getting tossed from the TUF Finale a few years back and getting submitted by C.B. Dollaway, Taylor has fought anywhere and everywhere while piling up seven straight wins. While he hasn't always been beating name brand opposition, seven wins since October is still pretty impressive.
With that out of the way, Jay Hieron is the toughest test to date for the Team Quest fighter and too much to handle in my books. The former IFL Welterweight champ has a wealth of experience against tougher competition than Taylor has faced and comes in on a five-fight winning streak of his own.
Gilbert Melendez (15-2-0) vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida (18-5-1)
Despite Josh Thomson's late removal from this fight, "El Nino" is going to get a chance at redemption anyway, facing the man to hand him his first career loss, "The Endless Fighter," Mitsuhiro Ishida.
Melendez has been vocal about the late replacement and some are speculating that Strikeforce has put the Interim Lightweight champion at a disadvantage heading into this fight. While both views could be correct, true champions overcome the obstacles before them and this is Melendez' chance to prove himself as a true champion.
Ishida is a strong wrestler who had gone to battle against some top talent over the years, including Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro and Takanori Gomi, while scoring a unanimous decision over Melendez on New Year's Eve 2007.
Renato "Babalu" Sobral (35-8-0) vs. Gegard Mousasi (25-2-1)
Youth versus experience.
Normally, I would side with experience, especially when that experienced competitor is Renato Sobral. But the youth is Gegard "The Dreamcatcher" Mousasi and I'm pretty certain that this will be his North American coming out party.
"Babalu" has become a much smarter fighter in his post-UFC career, finding his spots and executing perfectly in both his Strikeforce win over Bobby Southworth (got inside his range, landed some elbows, got the win) and his last Affliction fight against Sokoudjou (weathered the typical early Soko burst, submitted his tired ass in Round Two).
Then there is Mousasi, who is riding a 12-fight winning streak at the age of 24, including winning the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix and currently sitting as the favorite to win the company's Open Weight "Super Hulk" Tournament as well. You may not have known his name before today, but you shouldn't forget it. He's the real deal like Holyfield.
Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos" (7-1-0) vs. Gina Carano (7-0-0)
The fate of Women's MMA doesn't hang in the balance.
Regardless of the outcome, Gina Carano will remain the Face of WMMA.
But even those two realities doesn't stop this from being an historic event and the fight I have been most looking forward to in this outstanding month of Mixed Martial Arts.
Cyborg is a powerful, aggressive, dominant fighter who has clobbered nearly everyone who has been put before her, using her brute strength to overwhelm her opponents.
Carano is more of a technician, utilizing a wider array of attacks and having shown the ability to grind out a win against tough opponents.
If it ends early, Cyborg will be the winner. If it ends later, Carano will have her hand raised. The question is: which one will it be?
Punch Drunk Predictions
Record: 57-45 (That's better...)
Note: Since I have no real knowledge of any of the fighters on the undercard, making picks would really be a complete coin-flip situation and that is dumb to me, so I'm skipping them and sticking with what I know.
Fabricio Werdum over Mike Kyle by Submission, R2
Jay Hieron over Jesse Taylor by Unanimous Decision
Mitsuhiro Ishida over Gilbert Melendez by Unanimous Decision
Gegard Mousasi over Renato Sobral by TKO, R1
And in the Main Event of the Evening...
Gina "Conviction" Carano over Cris Cyborg by Submission, R3
Now touch gloves and come out swingin'...