With the carnage of UFC 112 still being processed and discussed, I think it is almost fitting that Strikeforce Nashville is just right around the corner. The event headlined by a number of MMA's most exciting fighters, and will be more than enough to make its way into our discussions currently overwhelmed by UFC's unheralded event.
The event will be FREE(always nice), and the will be shown on CBS Saturday, April 17. I will only be covering the three title fights, and the one preliminary fight that will be shown if time permits. Here are the match-ups and my preview and predictions.
Jason Miller (22-7-0-1NC) vs Tim Stout (8-7-0)
No this isn't a filming of Bully Beatdown, but I can see why you thought that. Signing a few weeks out, Miller vs Stout was a clear attempt by Strikeforce to bolster up the fight card. They added a named star in MMA and a potential "hometown" hero in Nashville native Tim Stout.
Mr. Stout's wins have come by six TKO's and two submissions. While he also has six losses by submission, and one by decision. It seems Stout likes to get the fight to the ground, but to be honest, I can't come up with a game-plan for this guy to win it's inconceivable.
Jason Miller on the other hand, his game-plan should be simple. Show up, make weight, and collect the check. It looks like Strikeforce just wants to have someone for the crowd to root for, while having a name and face fighter on reserve should the fights run short. Not much to write on this fight, I see Miller just being too much for Tim Stout in the end.
Winner: Jason Miller by way of submission (Round One)
Gilbert Melendez(c) (17-2-0) vs Shinya Aoki (23-4-0-1NC) - LW Championship
You may recognize Shinya Aoki as the guy you'll want to tap to in Jui-Jitsui class, he doesn't play nice if you test his submissions. It is not a big secret how Aoki wants to win this fight with 14 wins (60 percent) coming by way of submission.
Aoki is riding a three-fight win streak over the likes of Victor Ribeiro, Joachim Hansen, and now armless Mizuto Hirota. His biggest wins have came over Joachim Hansen (two out of three), Caol Uno, and Eddie Alvarez. Shinya Aoki will need to get this fight to the ground to have any chance at winning this fight. It will be crucial for him to survive the striking onslaught that Melendez will bring.
Gilbert Melendez is a purple belt in Jui-Jitsui, but that won't be enough for him this fight. Melendez should look to use his strengths, keeping the fight away from the ground moving in and out with strikes on Aoki. If Melendez should catch Aoki I think he will hurt him enough to cause Aoki to be too hesitant, causing him to wilt under the pressure.
Look for Melendez to try to end it standing without testing his grappling. He should only go to the ground in hopes of finishing the fight. I see the sprawl and brawl of Melendez being the deciding factor in the fight.
I have to pick Melendez based on the foreignness of Aoki to American MMA. He may not have the cage experience to be able to decide where the fight goes. He won't have his magic pants or be ready for elbows on the ground. That's why I am going with Gilbert Melendez.
Winner: Gilbert Melendez by way of TKO (Round Three)
Gegard Mousasi(c) (28-2-1) vs Muhammed Lawal (6-0-0) - LHW Championship
Both men are rising fast in the MMA world and this is an exciting matchup. King Mo, as he is referred to in MMA circles, will try to become royalty as he looks to take Gegard Mousasi's title on Friday.With powerful hands and devastating ground and pound, this former Olympic hopeful undoubtedly is a worthy opponent.
Only having six fights before the title may be considered a short resume in some eyes, King Mo is Gerard's biggest test of his career. Having filled in for Roger Gracie for his first win over MMA veteran Travis Wiuff, King Mo put the world on notice that he wasn't to be taken lightly.
His supreme athleticism is showing in his results with wins over veteran wrestlers Wiuff, Mark Kerr, and Mike Whitehead. Lawal will definitely look to take this fight to the ground an impose his will and devastating GnP. The reason being, he only has a punchers chance in the stand-up against the kickboxing standout Mousasi and must look to take him down and avoid submission attempts.
Riding a 15-fight win streak, Gegard Mousasi will look to defend his title in Nashville. Mousasi is tearing through all his opponents with ease and most recently has been fighting more top competition. He's never fallen against a challenge recently, with wins over Dennis Kang, Melvin Manhoef, Ronaldo Souza,Mark Hunt, Renato Sobral, and MMA veteran Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, stopping all of them before the end of the fight.
He will need to look to catch an over-aggressive Lawal, whether it be in the stand-up or the ground. I think Mousasi will find himself on the ground at least once. He will need to show he can survive or possibly attack Lawal from bottom with submissions.
He will also need to utilize legs kicks enough to where it's a threat, but not a liability for a take-down. The fight will be decided by how Mousasi keeps his striking range and of King-Mo and his take-downs.
Winner: Gegard Mousasi by way of TKO (Round Four)
Dan Henderson (25-7-0) vs Jake Shields(c) (24-4-1) - MW Championship
Looking at this fight on paper you might think Shields has the advantage, he is the champion, and the records are similiar but...They are not even close. Jake Shields is definitely getting a step up in competition as he faces former Pride Champion Dan Henderson.
Jake Shields hasn't lost since 2004, and he will look to keep it that way by using his speed advantage and jui-jitsui advantage over Henderson. He may not be able to take Henderson down but with his speed he needs to at least threaten it. He could try to outstrike Henderson, who loads up the right a lot.
Henderson will look to unload while Shields should move in and out, trying to catch Henderson with a counter. It will be hard since he is undoubtedly the smaller man going into the match. Shields can make 170, while Henderson fought at 205, this will be David vs Goliath for sure.
Dan Henderson, at 39, will try to best the younger Shields (31). Most times being an older is a negative, though his age and experience are his best asset coming into this fight. Shields being the smaller man, will also have to face the better wrestler, Henderson is a Greco-Roman master and will look to use that knowledge in the fight.
Henderson will, as he always does against grapplers, load up his right hand and sprawl and brawl. I anticipate that technique being used in full force in Nashville on Saturday. I think the size and wrestling experience, will prove to be the assets that win Henderson the fight.
Winner: Dan Henderson by way of unanimous decision.
Thank you for reading, please comment and tell me what you think.