The UFC may be the “go to” organization for determining which fighter is the best in the world, but for highly-entertaining circus acts (and I mean that in the nicest way possible), Strikeforce is king, bar none. Want to see Alistair Overeem fight an actual bear? Give Scott Coker some time and he’ll make it happen. Curious about how Cung Le would do against a Volkswagen Beetle? On a long enough timeline, that bout is sure to go down, too. Until then, however, we have Dan Henderson versus Fedor Emelianenko to tide us over, which will grace our TV screens on Saturday night courtesy of Showtime and a promotional willingness to do just about whatever sounds interesting. And friends, a pairing between the legendary Henderson and the legendary Fedor is very, very interesting. When the two meet in the center of the cage, throwing rights and lefts, who will have the advantage? When they inevitably tie up and clinch, who will get tossed on their head? Is someone destined to get armbarred or leglocked? So many compelling questions swirl about this fantastical (and utterly meaningless) match-up – and the fascinating undercard as well – that one thing is clear: an MMA Convert preview is in order!
Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko – At this point, you have to have been living in a cave deep in the Himalayas to have no knowledge of Henderson and Emelianenko’s accomplishments and the tools they bring to the cage. They’ve fought everywhere, accumulated a stack of belts and titles, and punched and subbed their way to victory so many times, they’ve got zero left to prove. But back-to-back losses have us all wondering if the once nigh-unstoppable Russian has become altogether stoppable, and a loss to Henderson – who usually fights in the two weight classes below Fedor’s stomping grounds – would likely send “The Last Emperor” into retirement. Fear not for the heavyweight legend, though; given that Fedor’s career has been spent crushing men much bigger, he should have no problem getting Henderson down and smooshing him.
Marloes Coenen vs. Miesha Tate – Listen. Do you hear that? That faint beating is the pulse of women’s MMA, which is being kept alive by a 135-pound division still somewhat active. Last week’s Strikeforce Challengers was all about someone earning a title shot, while this week’s installment is all about who gets to keep the belt. Will it be champ Coenen, who somehow manages to find submissions no matter how much punishment she takes? Or will it be Tate, who earned her shot by winning a one-night, four-woman tournament with a whole ‘lotta grappling dominance? This one is a toss up. But regardless of who wins, an exciting fight means the fairer gender’s brand of MMA combat gets to keep on living, so let’s hope for an exciting fight.
Tim Kennedy vs. Robbie Lawler – When he’s not battling the nefarious terrorist organization known as COBRA, GI Joe team member Kennedy can be seen whacking foes in the cage with aggression and superior grappling (or falling to those with even more superior grappling). Lawler isn’t exactly a grappler, he’s more of a head-hunting knockout artist, but he sometimes knows his way around a submission escape. Sometimes. Not always, though. In other words, if Kennedy can avoid walking face-first into the Claymore mines stored within Lawler’s fists, he’s likely coming away with the “W”.
Paul Daley vs. Tyron Woodley – When last we saw Daley, he was giving welterweight champ Nick Diaz hell in a raging fistfight. When last we saw Woodley, he was grinding his way past Tarec Saffiedine on a Strikeforce Challengers and earning himself a place in the “big leagues” of regular Strikeforce shows. Now, one of these guys is fighting way above his pay grade in this match-up. Can you guess who it is? If you said “Woodley”, you are correct, and likely won’t be shocked when the fearsome Brit striker decapitates the wrestler with punches.
Scott Smith vs. Tarec Saffiedine – The cool thing about Smith is that he can take a beating and still score a knockout at any time. Unfortunately, after all these years, that trait has turned him into the human equivalent of a battered heavy bag bound with layers and layers of duct tape that dangles from the ceiling at the gym. He’s still dangerous, however, and if skilled striker Saffiedine lets his guard down for a split second, Smith is putting him to sleep. My prediction: Saffiedine makes a mistake and winds up on the canvas, snoring.