Strikeforce returns this Wednesday after a month off with a somewhat disappointing offering. Originally, the main event was supposed to be Robbie Lawler and Jason Miller for the number one middleweight number contender's spot.
But due to Miller's involvement in the brawl two Strikeforce cards ago, the promoters didn't want to take any chances. Lawler now faces Renato "Babalu" Sobral at 195 lbs.
On top of the Miller issue is the injury to Bobby Lashley, who was also supposed to compete on this card and would've made this card a little more palatable. Last but not least is the surprising and not so publicized return of former EliteXC lightweight champion (and the last man to beat Nick Diaz) KJ Noons. Noons was supposed to fight Charles Bennet to avenge his only loss, but Bennet also pulled out due to injury, so Noons faces a dangerous but much less popular fighter.
This card is taking place in LA and coincides with the E3 gaming expo, where the new EA MMA game that Strikeforce is partnering on is no doubt a big reason why there is even a card happening at all on Wednesday.
Let's break down the card:
Main Event: Robbie Lawler vs Babalu Sobral
Lawler is 19-5 with 17 wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with very heavy hands. He has had a very nice career in the top organizations in the world with mostly positive results.
Sobral is 35-8 with 23 wins by stoppage. He is a grappler first with a sick jiu jitsu game, and his striking is always getting better. He has also fought a lot of tough competition with mostly positive results.
This is a great match up between two serviceable veterans who can finish a fight. Sobral needs to be very careful on the feet because even at 195 lbs., Lawler's power will translate. And Lawler cannot go to the ground with Sobral and expect to not be turned into a pretzel.
So expect a classic striker vs. grappler match up. I think Sobral can get this fight to the ground, where he should dominate. I'm picking Sobral to pick up a submission victory in the third round.
Marius Zaromskis vs Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos
Zaromskis is 13-4 with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a kickboxer with some wrestling. He has fought a few tough fighters, and Santos won't be anything new in the way of superior talent.
Santos is 17-13 with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a muay thai fighter first with a black belt in BJJ. He has fought some tough fighters with less than stellar results.
Santos comes out of the hyper aggressive Chute Boxe Academy, and his aggressive fighting style will fall right into the gameplan of Zaromskis. Zaromskis is the better striker and a brutal finisher who will pick up a TKO victory in the first round.
Tim Kennedy vs Trevor Prangley
Kennedy is 11-2 with 10 wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with a solid jiu jitsu game. He has faced a couple tough opponents with mixed results.
Prangley is 22-5-1 with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a grappler first with a jiu jitsu and wrestling background, but he also has a developing boxing game. He has faced some tough fighters with some less than great results.
Prangley has a vast experience advantage, but that's where the distinct advantages end. Prangley could catch Kennedy on the ground, but I would expect Kennedy to try and stand with Prangley where Kennedy has a bigger edge. I'm picking Kennedy to win a tough fought decision.
Conor Huen vs KJ Noons
Huen is 8-3 with six wins by stoppage. He is a grappler with a background in wrestling and jiu jitsu. Huen has fought a couple tough guys, but this is easily his toughest test to date.
Noons is 8-1 with seven wins by KO. He is a striker with a background in professional boxing. He has fought a few tough fighters with mostly positive results.
Noons just fought in March, but before then, he had been on almost a two year layoff, so he's probably still fighting some ring rust. As good as Noons is, this will not be an easy fight. Noons will want to stand, and Huen will want nothing to do with that.
Obviously if Noons gets taken down he's in trouble, and if Huen can't get him down, then Huen is in trouble. I want to pick Huen to pull the upset, but I just can't. So I'm going chalk and picking Noons to win a tough decision.