Strikeforce: Miami, Saturday Night Is Crucial

Erik FontanezCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2010


Miami is a destination of wild parties and clubs with an atmosphere unlike many within the lower 48 states. Strikeforce has determined this to be the perfect setting for showcasing their next fight card on Saturday, Jan. 30.

The beginning of 2010 is a crucial time for the San Jose-based mixed martial arts organization.

Universally known as industry heavyweight No. 2 to the Ultimate Fighting Championship , Strikeforce begins the new year with an event that had trouble coming to fruition due to athletic commissions, contract negotiations, and matching their newest athletes.

Jan. 30 will be a night where every fighter that is contractually obligated to perform will have to do so at the highest expectation and commentators will have to express excitement from opening round to closing horn.

The largest, and most obvious weight to hang from a fighters shoulders is that of Herschel Walker .

The 47-year-old NFL Hall of Famer is destined to enter the Strikeforce cage and prove that he is not the circus act that critics have labeled him as. Never having competed in mixed martial arts, Walker will debut with all of three months of professional training at an outstanding gym in American Kickboxing Academy.

His opponent, Greg Nagy, has relatively the same experience in MMA as the former running back.

Having a 1-1 record, Nagy goes into this fight with just over a year of experience himself. Coming off a loss to Francisco Navarro at Rage in the Cage 136, the Tempe, Ariz. native Nagy comes as a perfect fit for Walker to test his ability and determine if he can compete at a professional level.

Strikeforce has taken the correct approach in matching Walker; pitting him against a veteran in the sport would truly ruin the highly anticipated debut of a man who claims to do over 1000 sit-ups every day.

Good bet that the Walker-Nagy duel will be one that keeps this card above water, due to its intrigue and essentially equal experience between the two combatants.

The same can finally be said about Bobby Lashley as he is set to take on Ultimate Fighter Alumni Wes Sims .

After weeks of waffling and unconfirmed opponents, Lashley will receive the first true test of his career in Sims, a fighter who has a decent amount of experience on his fighting resume.

Until Sims, Lashley was rumored to fight Yohan Banks. Banks was then pulled for Shane Del Rosario, then Del Rosario pulled in favor of Jimmy Ambriz. The debacle that was matching Bobby Lashley finally came to an end when Sims was put into play.

I have been very critical about this very situation in a previous article I wrote entitled, Strikeforce Begins 2010 on a Stumble Matching Bobby Lashley .

Now, Strikeforce has righted their wrong by matching Lashley with someone who fit’s the bill as a step up in competition and is not a washed up, over the hill, image of his former self. Although many would argue that with a record of 22-12-1, 1 NC, Sims is a fighter on his way out. The fact is, Sims has won three in a row which gives him a little bit of momentum coming into his fight with Lashley.

Based off his experience and the level of competition he‘s seen, Wes Sims makes an excellent gatekeeper for the 4-0 Bobby Lashley. After this fight, Lashley will have to take on the next highest tier of competition.

Robbie Lawler and Melvin Manhoef will have to put on a stand-up war if anyone is to believe in the Strikeforce middleweight division beyond Dan Henderson and Jake Shields.

Manhoef's lack of ground game is the ugly duckling for Saturday night. The excitement brought on by one of Holland’s most vicious kickboxers is exactly what this card needs in order to draw the attention of the casual fan and keep them glued to the television.

Lawler packs some power in his own punch, so there's a great possibility that this bout will be an all-out slugging war.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and Marloes Coenen are set to fight for the Stirkeforce women’s lightweight title, while Nick Diaz and Marius Zaromskis tangle for the welterweight title.

The two championship fights are a bit out-shined by the debuts of the aforementioned combatants; however, let’s not take anything away from either of them.

Santos is on a mission to dominate women’s MMA and put a stamp on the fact that females can handle their own and have a place in the sport. She made quick work of Gina Carano to win Strikeforce’s inaugural women’s title and has established herself as a ferocious athlete through her fight style and rigorous training regiment.

Marloes Coenen is an outstanding submission fighter and, given the opportunity, if the bout with “Cyborg” goes to the ground there is a enormous chance the women’s title can change hands after just one fight.

Be forewarned, the ladies will do their part to make sure Strikeforce shines on Saturday.

MMA bad boy Nick Diaz will surely want to stand with Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis, even though his strong point is jiu-jitsu. Diaz has never been one to follow the popular trend, so he will surely do whatever he feels like in the cage on Saturday night.

Zaromskis was last seen head-kicking his way through the Dream welterweight tournament last year in Japan. The fight between he and Diaz may end by doctor stoppage since Diaz is not one to give up, even if his face is beaten beyond recognition.

Jay Hieron and Joe Riggs were pushed to the under card but, luckily for them, will stream their fight live over the Internet.

The two have made their rounds in the UFC and been journeyman for the last few years, but have maintained a stable fan base while making their recent treks.

Probably the most underrated fight of the card, Hieron and Riggs have all the talent to produce an entertaining bout that could end a number of ways, from KO or submission to split or unanimous decision. Both men are well rounded enough to ensure casual fans that they will have something to talk about when explaining the versatility of MMA to all those who have yet to understand this wonderful sport.

Saturday night is a crucial for Stirkeforce because it is their first attempt to gain ground on the UFC in 2010. Fortunately, Chief Executive Officer Scott Coker and the rest of the Strikeforce staff have taken the correct steps towards guaranteeing Strikeforce: Miami is the party to be at in South Beach.

Strikeforce: Miami is scheduled to air live on Showtime in the US and Superchannel in Canada at 10 p.m. ET.