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Strikeforce: Marquardt Vs. Saffiedine Predictions and Analysis

This weekend marks a landmark event for the Strikeforce organization. It is the final fight card on their Showtime contract, but it is also expected to serve as the final Strikeforce event of all time, as after this event the promotion is expected to be folded and merged into the UFC. This Saturday night live from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma the card will air on Showtime. Although the card was initially dubbed ‘Champions’ most of those champions have since pulled out from the event. Although what’s left is a bit watered down, many of these guys will be fighting for a UFC contract, so there should still be some entertaining bouts.

Despite many of the champions pulling out, there are a couple of champions that still remain on the card. The main event of the evening features a Welterweight Championship bout between Strikeforce champ Nate Marquardt taking on Tarec Saffiedine. The co-main event of the evening features Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champ Daniel Cormier taking on relatively unheralded Dion Staring in what is likely going to be a soft ball leading into his UFC debut. The main card also features a couple more interesting bouts like Josh Barnett taking on Nandor Guelmino, a Light Heavyweight bout between Gegard Mousasi taking on Mike Kyle in a bout that has been long overdue. The opening bout of the Showtime telecast features UFC Middleweight Ed Herman taking on former Strikeforce champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.

Preliminary Card (Unaired): Lightweight Bout: Michael Bravo vs. Estevan Payan

[adinserter name=”366 left”]Michael Bravo is a 24-year-old fighter who will be making his promotional debut in this bout. Bravo is a member of the Arena MMA Gym in San Diego, California. Bravo is a talented striker who is currently on a three fight-winning streak. Bravo holds a professional record of 7-3, and all seven victories via Knockout. Estevan “El Terrible” Payan is a 30-year-old fighter from Tempe, Arizona. He is a member of the Arizona Combat Sports Gym who has previously competed for Bellator. Payan holds a professional record of 13-3.

Quick Pick: Estevan Payan via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Unaired): Lightweight Bout: Jorge Gurgel vs. Adriano Martins

Jorge “J.G” Gurgel is a 35-year-old fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. Gurgel is a member of and the head trainer at his own gym in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gurgel is a former UFC fighter who is more known for getting into wild brawls despite his technical grappling proficiency. Gurgel holds a career record of 14-8. Adriano Martins is a 30-year-old Brazilian fighter from Manaus, Brazil. He is a member of the Top Life Amazonas Gym in Brazil who holds a career record of 23-6.

Quick Pick: Adriano Martins via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Lightweight Bout: Ryan Couture vs. K.J. Noons

Ryan Couture is a 30-year-old American fighter from Edmonds, Washington. Couture is best known as being the son of UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy Couture and is a member of his dad’s Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Couture holds a career record of 5-1. K.J. “King” Noons is a 30-year-old fighter from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Noons is a former professional boxer and kick boxer who now trains MMA at The Arena in San Diego, California. He holds a pro record of 11-5.

Quick Pick: Ryan Couture via Split Decision

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Middleweight Bout: Tim Kennedy vs. Trevor Smith

Tim Kennedy is a 33-year-old fighter from San Luis Obispo, California. Kennedy is a former member of the US Army who trains out of Greg Jackson’s MMA in Austin, Texas. Kennedy holds a career record of 14-4, who has defeated all but the top-tier of fighters in Strikeforce. Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith is a 31-year-old American fighter. Smith is a member of the Ring Demon Jiu Jitsu Gym in Tukwila, Washington. He holds a professional MMA record of 10-2.

Quick Pick: Tim Kennedy via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Middleweight Bout: Roger Gracie vs. Anthony Smith

Roger Gracie is a 31-year-old Brazilian fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gracie is a member of the famed Gracie Jiu Jitsu family. Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who trains with the Black House Gym in Brazil and London, England. Gracie holds a career record of 5-1. Anthony “Lionheart” Smith is a 24-year-old fighter from Corpus Christi, Texas. Smith is a member of the Disorderly Conduct Gym in Omaha, Nebraska. Smith holds a career record of 17-8.

Quick Pick: Roger Gracie via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Lightweight Bout: Pat Healy vs. Kurt Holobaugh

Pat “Bam Bam” Healy is a 29-year-old American fighter from Salem, Oregon. Healy is a member of the Team Quest Gym in Portland, Oregon. Healy was originally scheduled to headline the event against Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, but an injury to Melendez has dropped him to the Preliminary Card. Healy holds a career record of 28-16, but is currently riding a five-fight winning streak. Kurt Holobaugh is a26-year-old fighter from Independence, Louisiana. He is a member of the Gracie Barra North Shore Gym in Louisiana. Holobaugh is a Featherweight moving up in weight, who recently made headlines for having a professional fight on the same night as his wedding. He holds an unbeaten professional record of 8-0.

Quick Pick: Pat Healy via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Showtime): Catchweight 195 Pound Bout: Ed Herman vs. Ronaldo Souza

Ed “Short Fuse” Herman is a 32-year-old American fighter from Vancouver, Washington. Herman now lives and trains in Fort Collins, Colorado with the Team Quest Gym. Herman is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but is a tough, well-rounded fighter. Herman is best known as a finalist on the third season of The Ultimate Fighter. Herman is taking this bout as an injury replacement for Strikeforce fighter Lorenz Larkin who was forced to withdraw from the fight. Herman holds a pro record 20-8 with 1 No Contest.Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza is a 33-year-old Brazilian fighter from Vila Velha, Brazil. He is a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. Souza is one of the most dangerous grapplers on the planet, who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black belt in Judo. Souza is a member of the Black House Gym in Brazil who has won numerous submission grappling tournaments in his life. Souza has rapidly been improving his overall MMA game and has improved his striking significantly since making the initial switch to MMA. Souza holds a professional record of 16-3 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Herman is a talented grinder and is very tough to finish, but after seeing his loss to Jake Shields, I have to question how he’ll do in this bout. With the improvements in his striking game, Souza is almost sure to be better in every area where this fight is contested. Herman is tough and very durable, so it won’t be easy for Souza, but I can see him taking a pretty clear cut decision victory here. Ronaldo Souza via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Showtime): Light Heavyweight Bout: Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle

Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi is a 27-year-old Armenian fighter from Tehran, Iran. Mousasi is a talented kick boxer who now trains out of Leiden, Netherlands as part of the Golden Glory Gym. Mousasi holds a black belt in Judo and is also a former professional kick boxer. Mousasi is a former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion and a former DREAM Light Heavyweight Champion. Mousasi is fighting for the first time in over a year, returning from a torn ACL injury. He holds a professional record of 32-3-2.

Mike “MAK” Kyle is a 32-year-old American fighter from Boise, Idaho. Kyle is a former Heavyweight fighter who now competes at Light Heavyweight. Kyle is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy training out of San Jose, California. Kyle has competed in the UFC previously and was infamously accused of biting Wes Sims during their bout. Kyle will likely be fighting for the chance to return to the UFC. He holds a career record of 19-8-1 with 2 No Contests.

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Analysis and Prediction: Mousasi is definitely one of the top talents in the world at Light Heavyweight who isn’t competing in the UFC and after this bout that’s probably going to change. He’s a better grappler and a far superior striker, but Kyle hits very hard and is large for a Light Heavyweight. The game plan to beat Mousasi is to grind him out from top control using a wrestling based approach. I doubt that Kyle can pull off something like that, but the time off for Mousasi is slightly concerning. Kyle is probably more interested in brawling and that gets him on the wrong end of a highlight knockout, but probably earns him a shot in the UFC anyways. If it wasn’t for the long layoff due to injury, I’d be much more confident in Mousasi, but as is, I still think he’s talented enough to win. Gegard Mousasi via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Showtime): Heavyweight Bout: Josh Barnett vs. Nandor Guelmino

Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett is a 35-year-old fighter from Seattle, Washington. Barnett is a former professional wrestler, spending some of his time wrestling in Japan. Barnett is a talented catch wrestler and grappler who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Barnett is a member of the CSW Gym in Fullerton, California. Barnett is a former UFC Heavyweight champion who was later stripped of the title after testing positive for banned substances. This will be Barnett’s first fight since losing in the finals of the Strikeforce of the Heavyweight Grand Prix. Barnett holds a career record of 31-6.

Nandor “The Hun” Guelmino is a 37-year-old fighter from Vienna, Austria. Guelmino is a Tae Kwan Do practitioner who holds a black belt in the discipline. Guelmino will be making his promotional debut, but is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak. Despite not being a well-known fighter, he is talented, but has struggled against most of the upper-level fighters that he’s faced. Guelmino holds a career record of 11-3 and has won 9 of those 11 via stoppage.

Analysis and Prediction: Guelmino is a Tae Kwan Do specialist and he’s utilized his striking to win many of his career bouts. He has a strong jab and decent takedown defense, but Barnett will be by far the stiffest test of his career. Despite the beating he took from Cormier, Barnett is a top level Heavyweight who is a dominant and smothering grappler from top control and his positional awareness and submission skills make him extremely dangerous on the mat. Guelmino has a couple of submission wins himself, but he’s not going to be able to do much once Barnett gets him down and gets on top. I expect this one doesn’t last long, Barnett isn’t one to showboat and with the chance to hop into the UFC with an impressive showing, I expect him to make short work of Guelmino. Jab, shot, takedown, top control, guard pass into mount and ground and pound for a stoppage in the first round. Josh Barnett via TKO in Round One

Main Card (Showtime): Heavyweight Bout: Daniel Cormier vs. Dion Staring

Daniel “DC” Cormier is a 33-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. Cormier is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler and a former Olympic Wrestler. Despite his impressive wrestling credentials, he has made vast improvements to his striking and overall MMA game. Cormier recently won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix by defeating Josh Barnett in the finals. Cormier is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California where he trains and is good friends with UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. Cormier holds a perfect professional record of 10-0.

Dion “Soldier” Staring is a 34-year-old Dutch fighter from Deventer, Netherlands. Staring is a well-seasoned veteran of the sport of MMA, with 35 career professional bouts. Staring has fought for a number of major MMA promotions throughout his career including Shooto, Walki and Jungle Fight. Staring is a former sparring partner of Alistair Overeem who formerly trained with Overeem at the Golden Glory Gym in Amsterdam. He has since made a transition to the Imperial Athletics Gym in Boca Raton, Florida, making the move with Overeem to the Blackzillians team. Staring holds a professional record of 28-7.

Analysis and Prediction: Cormier is currently sitting at a ridiculous 22-to-1 on the Vegas line for this fight. While I think that might be a bit crazy, it’s probably closer to the true odds than anyone will readily admit. Staring took a fight that a lot of people said no to. He’s more suited to Light Heavyweight, but Cormier isn’t a massive Heavyweight who will overwhelm him with size. Instead, he’ll overwhelm him with skill. Despite the change to training with the Blackzillians, Staring hasn’t competed against anyone who is as talented or a complete fighter as Cormier. As he showed as he bulldozed his way through the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Cormier is a talented wrestler with smothering top control and his striking is top notch as well. His style is very similar to his AKA Teammate and UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, which means he’s a nightmare for almost anyone in the Heavyweight division. Takedowns and ground and pound end this one quickly for Cormier. Daniel Cormier via TKO in Round One

Main Card (Showtime): Welterweight Championship Bout: Nate Marquardt vs. Tarec Saffiedine

Nate “The Great” Marquardt is a 33-year-old American fighter from Lander, Wyoming. Marquardt is a former UFC Middleweight fighter and a former Pancrase Middleweight Champion. Now fighting out of Denver, Colorado he is a member of the Grudge Training Center and the High Altitude Martial Arts Gym. Marquardt is also a former member of Greg Jackson’s Team in New Mexico. He holds a number of black belts in several martial arts including a 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Gaidojutsu and a black belt in Pancrase Pankration. Marquardt is a tough and well-rounded fighter who is now the reigning and defending Strikeforce Welterweight Champion. He holds a professional MMA record of 32-10-2.

[adinserter name=”366 right”]Tarec “The Sponge” Saffiedine is a 26-year-old Belgian fighter from Brussels, Belgium. Saffiedine has fought for a number of major promotions such as Shooto, DREAM, Shark Fights and Strikeforce. Saffiedine is a member of the Team Quest Gym in Temecula, California. He holds a black belt in Shihaishinkai and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Before becoming a full-time fighter he was an amateur kick boxer in Belgium where he compiled 12-1-1 record. Since becoming a professional fighter he holds a career record of 13-3, and has never been finished in his professional career.

Analysis and Prediction: Tyron Woodley has laid out the game plan to beat Saffiedine and it comes from smothering top control and a quick pace. In their bout two years ago, Saffiedine had nearly no answers for Woodley’s wrestling. While Woodley is a more accomplished amateur wrestler, Marquardt’s MMA wrestling is probably more dangerous since you have to consider the chance that he just blasts you with power punches.

In his first fight at Welterweight Marquardt looked excellent. He looked like he handled the cut well and looked extremely large by the time the fight started. Marquardt’s grappling skills looked solid against Woodley, as did his striking. He’s always been a decent striker, but his power shots and ability to throw combinations with speed and accuracy were improved at the 170-pound class. Saffiedine is also a talented striker, but he lacks the power to make Marquardt respect his shots.

I expect Marquardt to constantly move forward, offering relentless pressure. Saffiedine will undoubtedly be slightly tentative, fearing the takedown from Marquardt. This will leave him susceptible to leg kicks, body punches and uppercuts from Marquardt, who could also just spam takedowns to try and get this bout to the ground as quickly as possible. I think Saffiedine can play it safe and hang around for a while, but late in the second round he gets tagged and the referee waves it off. Nate Marquardt via TKO in Round Two

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