It's been a long time since my last article, so I thought I'd take it slow. Take it easy on me while I warm up and get my MMA legs back under me with a preview of the upcoming Strikeforce: Miami event taking place this Saturday.
Strikeforce: Miami is highlighted by two title fights and two much publicized Strikeforce debuts. The main event is for the vacant welterweight title. Resident MMA bad boy Nick Diaz and DREAM welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis will go at it to see who rules Strikeforce's most lackluster division.
The co-main event features Strikeforce women's champion Cris "Cyborg" Santos v. dutch grappler Marloes Coenen. This is a "car accident" type of fight where people will be tuning in to see the wreckage that will be Coenen, even if they might be sickened by it.
The two other headliners on the card are the Strikeforce debuts of former wrestling star Bobby Lashley and all-time football great Herschel Walker.
People are drawn to Lashley the same way they were to Brock Lesnar. They want to see if the fake fighter can hang in the cage. As for Walker, people are just hoping he has something left in the tank at 47, and doesn't get humiliated.
Let's break down the fights:
Nick Diaz v. Marius Zaromskis
Diaz is 20-7 with 17 wins by stoppage. He has technical striking and great grappling, even though he enjoys striking more as of late. He has fought around the world against some of the toughest competition out there in three weight classes.
Zaromskis is 13-3 with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a striker who recently went on a tear to win the DREAM welterweight grand prix and became the first DREAM welterweight champion. Zaromskis, even though he's a champion, is taking a huge step up in competition by taking this fight.
The good news for Zaromkis is that Diaz (cough, ducking Jay Hieron, cough) has a tendency to self-destruct, and Zaromskis has been on fire, winning his last three fights by first round KO. However, I don't see this fight turning out well for him.
Diaz has also looked strong since coming over to Strikeforce, and he should have the experience edge, as well as the advantage on the ground.
If Diaz can take the fight down into his world it could be a short night. However, if it stays on the feet I think Zaromskis has the ability to win. I think Diaz is the more technical striker and could wear Zaromskis down before putting him away like he did with Frank Shamrock.
Zaromskis probably has the power advantage and could land a good punch/kick (though Diaz is very tough to finish).
Ultimately, I think this fight will stay standing. Diaz is the more well-rounded fighter, and his experience will prove valuable. I'm picking Diaz to take home the title by TKO in the third round.
"Cyborg" Santos v. Marloes Coenen
Santos is 8-1 with six wins by KO. She is a brutal Muay Thai striker with tons of power. She is the defending women's 145 lb champion, and trains out of the prestigious Chute Boxe camp.
Coenen is 17-3 with 15 wins by stoppage. She is a grappler, but has the ability to strike and finish. On paper I suppose Coenen could pose problems for Santos on the ground, but I don't see the fight working out that way.
Even if Coenen was lucky enough to get Santos down (which is about as easy as getting Dana White not to drop the f bomb every other word) where she isn't as strong, Coenen wouldn't be able to keep her down long enough to do anything.
Santos, until proven otherwise, is untouchable right now. This fight turns into the train wreck everyone is tuning in for with a brutal KO of Coenen in the first round.
Melvin Manhoef v. Robbie Lawler
Manhoef is 24-6-1 with 23 wins by KO. He is a notorious kickboxer, who is making only his second U.S. appearance, and his first with a US promotion. He has a ton of experience in Japan, and has fought some of the best in the world.
Lawler is 18-5 with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a heavy-handed boxer, and is looking to bounce back from a tough loss to Jake Shields. Lawler has also fought top competition in the past, which, combined with his style, should make this a very exciting fight.
I can't imagine this fight unfolding in any way other than an all-out war on the feet. Neither of these guys has any qualms about standing toe-to-toe and trading for our amusement.
As heavy-handed and tough as Lawler is, I just don't think he can beat Manhoef in a pure striking battle. I'm going to pick Manhoef to win, and go out on a limb by predicting it will come via KO in the second round.
Herschel Walker v. Greg Nagy
Walker is making his MMA debut. Nagy is also a relative newcomer who I have no background on. This fight is as close to a complete coin flip as you could get.
On the one hand, Walker was a tremendous athlete, but you have to wonder if, at 47, he has what it takes to compete in a sport like MMA. On the other hand, Nagy is a complete wild card that almost no one knows anything about.
The one thing I'm basing my pick off of is the fact that I can't imagine Strikeforce would build up Walker only to pair him up with someone they didn't think he could beat. Using that logic, I'm picking Walker by decision. (I really hope Walker doesn't get embarrassed, but it is a distinct possibility)
Bobby Lashley v. Wes Sims
Lashley is 4-0 with three wins by stoppage, all against suspect competition. Even though this is his first big MMA show he's used to the bright lights after his time in the WWE, and I don't think that will phase him.
Lashley has a great amateur wrestling background, and a great training camp in American Top Team. At this point in Lashley's career he's little more than a ground-and- pound machine that overwhelms you physically.
Sims is 22-12-1 with 20 of those wins by stoppage. Sims has a mix of standing and grappling skills, but isn't particularly strong in either area. He's pretty much the definition of a journeyman, even though he briefly resurfaced on the 10th season of the Ultimate Fighter recently.
Lashley shouldn't have any problem taking Sims down and putting a beating on him a la Mark Kerr in his "Smashing Machine" days of UFC 14/15. I'm picking Lashley to win by TKO in the second round after he breaks Sims' will in the first.
Jay Hieron v. Joe Riggs
Even though Riggs is younger he has a lot more wear on his body than Hieron and hasn't developed the way many thought he would by this point in his career. Hieron, at this point in time, is the more complete fighter who can dictate where the fight takes place, though he most likely will want to keep it standing.
There should be some exciting exchanges, but Hieron won't wear out the way Phil Baroni did in Riggs' last Strikeforce appearance. I'm putting my money on Hieron by TKO in the second round.