Strikeforce: Fedor vs Henderson: Main Fight Card Analysis and Predictions

Todd Seyler@toddseylerContributor IJuly 28, 2011

Strikeforce: Fedor vs Henderson: Main Fight Card Analysis and Predictions

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    Legends will clash this Saturday at the Sears Centre Arena in Chicago, Illinois, as Strikeforce and M-1 Global presents an epic matchup between Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson live on Showtime.

    In female action, current Strikeforce women's champion Marloes Coenen will defend her title against Miesha Tate.

    Main event action continues in a stylistic clash between the hard-hitting MMA veteran Robbie Lawler and the relentless grappling pedigree of Tim Kennedy.

    Welterweight action features the always dangerous Paul Daley versus the undefeated Tyron Woodley.

    Rounding off the night's main event action will be a 170 pound battle between Scott Smith and  Tarec Saffiedine.

    Please follow along as I dissect each main card fight and predict the outcome. Enjoy the fights.

    I welcome your comments.

    Todd Seyler

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Fight No. 1: Scott Smith vs Tarec Saffiedine

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    Beginning the night's action will be a welterweight contest between the seasoned veteran Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith and the well-traveled Belgian Tarec "Sponge" Saffiedine.

    With an overall MMA record of 17-8 with 14 knockouts, Smith has a reputation for throwing caution to the wind and engaging in do-or-die exchanges inside the cage.

    5-4-1 in his last 10 matchups, Smith has been a roller coaster ride of success since his departure from the UFC in 2007.

    "Hands of Steel" relies on his Muay-thai abilities to secure victories and attempts to keep his contests standing as much as possible.

    Conversely, Saffiedine is known for his jiu-jitsu skills and his grappling development under Team Quest in Temecula, California.

    With five submission victories and four decision wins, the "Sponge" is well-versed on the ground and is capable of defeating Smith via tapout.

    Like Smith, Saffiedine is also a very good striker.

    Unlike Saffiedine, who is very well accomplished in both the grappling and submission game, Smith is limited in his jiu-jitsu skills and rarely relies on his wrestling background to secure a victory.

    In the end, Saffiedine's stand-up will match Smith. However, "Hands of Steel" will not be able to prevent any continued take-down attempts, and the "Sponge" will ultimately control this fight on the ground.

    Wearing down Smith with continued take-downs and subsequent ground-and-pound and submission attempts, Saffiedine will capitalize on the limited cardiovascular conditioning of Smith and secure a TKO victory in Round 3.

    Winner: Tarec Saffiedine Round 3 TKO  

Fight No. 2: Paul Daley vs Tyron Woodley

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    This will be a very interesting matchup. The quintessential striker versus grappler will be on display between these two warriors.

    Paul "Semtex" Daley will surely be looking to get back on a winning streak after his defeat to Nick Diaz back in April, whereas the undefeated Tyron "The Wood" Woodley will be ready to make a statement with a decisive victory over an upper eschelon competitor such as Daley.

    Daley is not only known for the dynamite in his punches and his well-deserved nickname "Semtex," but for his brash, arrogant demeanor both in and out of the cage.

    This demeanor quite possibly cost him a victory against Diaz. Rocking the Stockton native with stand-up strikes, Diaz goated Daley into following him to the mat, where "Semtex" was out of his element in that matchup.

    Recovering from the punches, Diaz flipped the tables and unloaded a barrage of unanswered strikes at Daley until the fight was called at 4:57 of Round 1.

    Understanding that Daley has had issues in the past against strong wrestlers, work on his take-down defense and jiu-jitsu skills needs to improve; otherwise, he will continue to exist as a one-dimensional fighter.

    Considering Daley's persona, he will be looking to make a statement against Woodley in this matchup on Saturday and over-commit to his strikes leaving himself open for the take-down.

    At 8-0, Woodley will be stepping up in competition, featured on the main card action beyond the Challengers level.

    With Muhammed Ali-esque confidence, Woodley already believes that "he is the greatest."

    His MMA resume would speak in opposition to that mindset. To date, Woodley's toughest competition has been against the aforementioned Tarec Saffiedine, in which he secured a unanimous decision victory.

    A strong athlete with a Division I wrestling pedigree, "T-Wood" will need to secure numerous take-downs against Daley to ground the hard-hitting Brit and control the fight on the mat.

    Daley's glaring lack of take-down defense, overall grappling ability and an absence of a jiu-jitsu presence will be exposed against the very solid grappler in Woodley. 

    I predict that Tyron Woodley will remain undefeated and continue to rise through the Strikeforce welterweight division.

    Winner: Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision 

Fight No. 3: Robbie Lawler vs Tim Kennedy

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    "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler seemingly has been a part of global mixed martial arts action as long as "Big" John McCarthy.

    A knockout artist with 15 KO victories, Lawler's southpaw stance and hard-throwing strikes have left a trail of victims in his wake including Frank Trigg, Scott Smith and an epic battle with Melvin Manhoef.

    An excellent boxer with good take-down defense, Lawler's game plan is simple: keep the fight standing and win via knockout.

    Will Robbie Lawler be able to impose his fight strategy and keep this matchup standing? If so, Tim Kennedy will face a daunting task in this contest.

    Even though Kennedy is well-versed as a boxer and possesses good stand-up striking skills, he holds the advantage over Lawler on the ground.

    With seven submission victories in 13 total wins, this Jackson Submission Fighting pupil will look to stand and trade with Lawler on their feet, execute a solid take-down and then work for a submission victory.

    Success against stand-up specialists in the past, including a rear-naked choke victory over Melvin Manhoef, Kennedy can weather the kick-boxing storm and impose his will to take the fight to the ground.

    In the end, the balanced skill-set of Tim Kennedy will wear down Robbie Lawler. Exposed for his weakness in his cardiovascular conditioning in the past, Kennedy will maximize on Lawler's fatigue in the later rounds and secure a submission win.

    Winner: Tim Kennedy via Round 3 submission victory

Fight No. 4: Marlos Coenen vs Miesha Tate

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    The sole female fight on the card is a championship matchup between the current title holder Marloes Coenen and the No. 1 contender, Miesha Tate.

    Coenen, a Dutch submission grappling protege, has compiled an impressive 19-4 overall record with 14 submission victories.

    Growing up in the Shooto discipline in Holland, Coenen has evolved into a complete fighter and is equally talented on her feet as well as on the mat.

    Pushed to her limit against the hard-charging Liz Carmouche, Coenen secured a come-from-behind triangle choke in her first defense of the Strikeforce women's welterweight championship in March.

    Cut from the same mold as Carmouche, Tate's wrestling and jiu-jitsu background should present similar challenges for the champion that she faced in her initial title defense.

    Training with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento with the likes of Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes, Tate will be fully prepared to take this fight to the ground and unload savage ground-and-pound.

    Tate realizes that her strengths as a grappler actually play into the hands of Coenen's strengths as a submission specialist.

    Staying active on the ground, avoiding submission attempts and wearing down Coenen with a continued assault on the mat will be Tate's game plan.

    Because of the challenge the current champion had with Carmouche, I am going to predict an upset victory here and state that Miesha Tate will leave the Sears Centre this Saturday the new Strikeforce women's welterweight champion.

    Winner: Miesha Tate via Round 4 TKO 

Fight No. 5: Fedor Emelianenko vs Dan Henderson

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    The marquee matchup at the Sears Centre features two immortal fighters, Fedor "The Last Emperor" Ememlianenko versus Dan "Hendo" Henderson.

    Both legendary MMA practitioners have accomplished hall-of-fame caliber accolades in the sport.

    However, these two icons are seemingly traveling in two separate directions as fighters.

    Coming off of his only two defeats inside the cage, Emelianenko will attempt to prevent a three-fight losing streak against Henderson.

    On the other hand, Henderson is bathing in championship success after defeating Rafael Cavalcante for the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship in March.

    Similarities exist between both fighters. Both have one of the strongest chins in the sport. Both possess thunderous knockout power. Both have seemingly unlimited cardiovascular conditioning. Both are excellent grapplers; Fedor with his sambo background and Henderson with his greco-roman background.

    So which fighter holds the advantage?

    Does the old Fedor that dominated the sport for almost a decade emerge with excellent movement, slick punches, tremendous take-downs and brutal ground-and-pound?

    Or is the lethal right hand of Henderson the difference maker in this matchup?

    This back-and-forth affair will provide fireworks and moments of brilliance. An excellent matchup of two legends. In the end, I believe that "The Last Emperor" will control enough of this fight to secure a victory.

    Winner: Fedor Emelianenko via unanimous decision victory