Saturday, January 29, Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg will take place at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The event will feature four fights in total, including the Strikeforce middleweight and welterweight championships, and will be broadcast on Showtime.
In the Main event, welterweight champion Nick Diaz will defend his title against Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos—the husband of Strikeforce 145-pound women's champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos.
In the co-main event, middleweight champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza defends his title against veteran Robbie Lawler.
On the undercard, NFL great Herschel Walker will make his return against unheralded Scott Carson. And Roger Gracie attempts to keep his undefeated record by besting tough veteran Trevor Prangley.
As with every sporting event, it can only get better by putting as much money as possible on the outcome.
Let's take a look at our options for Saturday.
Roger Gracie, one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the world, will fight in MMA for the fourth time against UFC vet Trevor Prangley to open the broadcast.
The odds are basically even, with Prangley coming in as a very slight favorite at -120, compared to Gracie at -110.
The odds reflect how unsure MMA observers are about what to expect from Gracie. He's 3-0 in MMA, but each fight took place two years apart, starting in 2006.
Each win came by submission—as if I needed to tell you that—but his striking looked much improved in his last fight against Kevin Randleman. But Prangley is no Randleman.
Randleman has seemed to not even be trying to win in his last few fights and Gracie will not see that from the always-game Prangley. What Gracie does have going for him is that Prangley was submitted in his last loss to Tim Kennedy, and Kennedy has nowhere near the ground game of Gracie.
But, Prangley has only been submitted twice in his 10-year career, so I wouldn't go as far as calling it his weakness.
Prangley is a very strong, tough and experienced fighter who has pretty much seen it all. Unless Gracie catches him with something from the bottom, I see him winning a decision here.
Prangley doesn't have the stand up power to stop Gracie on the feet, and Gracie's ground experience will keep him alive on the bottom.
The experience will be the difference.
I'm glad that Strikeforce isn't protecting Roger, but a straight bet on Prangley seems like a very solid option.
The second bout of the telecast is more of a sideshow than a competitive fight of substance.
Scott Carson holds a record of 4-1, spanning over 11 years. After going 4-0 to start his career, Carson took a nine-year hiatus from MMA before coming back in 2010 to get knocked out in the first round.
Now, the 48-year-old NFL All-Star Herschel Walker will make his MMA return one year after his debut to take on Carson.
It should be fun, but let's not deny the fact that this is basically a freak show. I haven't even been able to find odds for this fight, but if someone is taking bets on it, the odds should be lopsided for Walker.
If you can find such lopsided odds, it might be an all right idea to make a very small bet on Carson. There is no money to be made betting on Walker. And at 48 years old, you never know if a winging punch could clip Walker and put him out, or even more likely, cause a fight-ending cut.
Basically, this is the fight to drink a beer and get ready for the title fights.
As anyone that follows the sport can already tell, this is one of those classic puncher vs. grappler fights that would almost be becoming a cliche if they weren't so entertaining.
As their resumes will tell you, each fighters strength is the other's weakness. Basically, if Robbie Lawler loses, it is by submission. And every time Ronaldo Souza has lost, it has been by knockout.
The same can be said if they win. "Jacare" has won the majority of his fights by submission, while Lawler counts on the natural power in his fists to close the show.
On paper, this is the most competitive fight on the card, but that doesn't mean it won't end early.
While Jacare's stand up game has looked a million times better in his last couple fights, the story of this fight will be both fighter's wrestling.
Jacare can not trade punches with Lawler; his fight will have to take place on the ground. But Lawler is a very strong wrestler and taking him down is no easy task.
I see Lawler fighting off the takedowns and, sooner or later, catching Jacare coming in with something damaging. If Lawler is smart, he will stay away from those flying knees he sometimes throws with reckless abandon.
I'm picking the upset in this one with Lawler coming in at +200. Souza at -260 just doesn't present enough reward for such a competitive fight.
Don't miss this fight!
Neither fighter has ever put on a dull performance, and the two together should be spontaneous combustion.
But when it comes to a winner other than the fans, I can't envision anyone other than Nick Diaz with his arm raised at the end of a brutal war.
Diaz is about a -360 favorite and with good reason. With each bout, his boxing continues to climb the ranks as some of the best in MMA, and that will be his weapon of choice.
Some might point to Evangelista Santos being the bigger man since he is coming down from middleweight, but Diaz is actually three inches taller than Santos.
The weight advantage will be for Santos, but Diaz is more controlled and methodical and won't be wasting punches. Santos may be more disciplined in his strategy than he used to be, but fighters like him only stray from the path so far.
As they say, "born round, don't die square."
Santos comes in as a +280 dog, and while someone as dangerous as him should always be considered live, the punchers chance shrinks when fighting someone with the chin of Diaz.
Look for Diaz to pick Santos apart with his long jab and sneaky cross, and if it does go to the ground, Diaz will completely outclass him.
I'm predicting Diaz to bust up Santos' face on the feet for two rounds, before the fight goes to the mat and Diaz submits him with maybe an armbar.
Not a lot of money to be made on a straight bet here, so I would suggest parlaying it with the next slide...
If you're a fan of all combat sports, then I'm sure you are anticipating one of the best fights that can be made in boxing in Tim Bradley against Devon Alexander.
Bradley and Alexander are both young, undefeated titleholders at 140 lbs.—one of the deepest divisions in boxing—and the two will clash on HBO, Saturday night.
If you're like me and have Comcast on the West Coast, then you have to wait til three hours after Strikeforce's live broadcast to watch it anyway—please fix this, Comcast—so luckily we have this amazing fight to fill the space.
I see Bradley as too strong and dynamic to fall prey to the at-times one-dimensional jab of Alexander.
Alexander doesn't have the physical strength to hurt Bradley, not to mention Bradley seems to have one of the better chins in the sport.
As with any fight of this magnitude, both fighters are very live, but I plan to parlay a Bradley win at -215 with a Nick Diaz win on the Strikeforce card.
These guys like to put in work, so expect the fight to go the full 12 rounds. But, with the over/under set at nine-and-a-half rounds and the over looking about -550, there isn't much to make there.
It's going to be a great night of fights, so go put those bets in and get the juices flowing early.