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Strikeforce: Fedor Vs. Henderson Card Preview & Predictions

Well we already know how I feel about this Saturday’s main event when Strikeforce presents Fedor vs. Henderson live from the Sears Centre Arena in Chicago, Illinois. Now that the bookmakers have finally gotten around to posting the betting lines for the rest of the night’s fights let’s take a look at the rest of the card and see if there are any betting opportunities. There are still several fights that do not have lines posted for them so I’ll pass up in-depth details and fight breakdowns for quick picks.

Strikeforce is bringing one of its most complete and talent-loaded cards in a long time and there are a number of intriguing bouts from top to bottom. So let’s get right into it. As always, I’ll go ahead and plug BestFightOdds (www.bestfightodds.com) I will be using the best available lines from this website for my predictions and analysis.

Preliminary Card Quick Pick Fights:

Heavyweight Bout: Bryan Humes vs. Gabriel Salinas-Jones – Bryan Humes by Unanimous Decision

Middleweight Bout: Derek Brunson vs. Lumumba Sayers – Derek Brunson via TKO Round 2

Women’s 135 Pound Bout: Alexis Davis vs. Julie Kedzie – Julie Kedzie via Unanimous Decision

Welterweight Bout: Eduardo Pamplona vs. Tyler Stinson – Eduardo Pamplona via Submission Round 2

Lightweight Bout: Gesias ‘JZ’ Cavalcante vs. Bobby Green – JZ Cavalcante via TKO in Round 2

Main Card Live on Showtime:

Welterweight Bout: Scott Smith (+245) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (-260)

Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport right now. He is rarely in a boring fight, this is due to his penchant for standing and brawling, his ability to take extreme amounts of punishment and his amazing ability to comeback from the brink of defeat. Fighting out of Elk Grove, California Smith is a brawler with decent Muay Thai skills although he far too often resorts to simply brawling with his opponents. He owns a career record of 17-8-1 with 14 wins via KO. Smith is often overwhelmed by fighters with more technically proficient stand up skills than himself and is relatively weak on the ground. However, he does have extraordinary power in his hands and has a history of come from behind victories so if he’s not out cold, he’s still in the fight. Also of note is that this is Smith’s second fight at 170, which is a huge drop for someone who started their career at Heavyweight. He was KO’ed relatively quickly by Paul Daley in that fight, but the cut looked like it might have been difficult for him.

Tarec Saffiedine is a Belgian fighter, who now trains with Team Quest in Temecula, California. At 5’9″ he will be at a slight size disadvantage to Smith who is a former Middleweight. However, Saffiedine is a significantly better fighter. His stand up skills are excellent as he has a black belt in Shihaishinkai Karate and excellent Muay Thai skills. He fights well from a range and is able to use his kicks as well as his hands effectively, which could come in useful against Smith who rarely uses kicks. Saffiedine also has readily improving BJJ and wrestling skills, which may come in handy should he find himself in trouble, as Smith is not a great fighter off of his back. Saffiedine has a career record of 10-3, and has never been finished in a fight. That bodes well for him, as Smith’s most likely path to victory is a Knockout.

Prediction: This is Saffiedine’s fight to lose. He possesses way too many weapons while Smith has only two. Saffiedine’s last fight he lost to Tyron Woodley, but in that fight he was simply outwrestled by a better wrestler, he won’t have to worry about Smith shooting for takedowns. Saffiedine moves too well and is far too fast for Smith. He’ll use leg kicks and a strong jab to keep distance and stay away from the power in Smith’s hands. From outside he should be able to completely dominate Smith en-route to a third round TKO.

Bets: At -260 Tarec Saffiedine is being given almost a 75% chance of winning the fight. That’s probably about right, as he has all of the tools to dominate a fairly one-dimensional fighter like Scott Smith. However, Smith has one punch KO power and Saffiedine has been tagged in fights in the past, I’m not laying that kind of chalk on Saffiedine, despite the fact that I think he has a clear path to victory. The line was lower on Saffiedine in the past week, but I think it has been bet to the right number, making it a no play for me.

Welterweight Bout: Paul Daley (+235) vs. Tyron Woodley (-250)

Paul “Semtex” Daley is returning to Strikeforce after a loss in what is probably Round of the Year so far in 2011 (it might have won Fight of the Year as well if it wasn’t for two guys named Faber and Cruz at UFC 132.) Daley is a 28-year-old fighter from London, England. Aptly named, he possesses strong boxing and Muay Thai skills with knockout power in both hands. He also possesses a 76-inch reach, which puts him at a reach advantage against most fighters in the Welterweight division. With a career record of 27-10-2 Daley owns an amazing 20 wins via Knockout. Daley however is abysmal on the ground and has been completely dominated on the ground by strong wrestlers. This is an area where Daley will surely be tested against Woodley who is a standout wrestling talent.

Tyron Woodley is a 29-year-old fighting out of Coconut Creek, Florida with American Top Team. In high school Woodley was a two-time state finalist in Wrestling. He finished his high school wrestling career an amazing 48-0 and winning a state title. Although 29 years old, Woodley is still an up and coming prospect who is still in college, but has taken time off to focus completely on his MMA Career. The former NCAA Division 1 wrestler obviously has amazing wrestling skills and great takedowns. He also has readily improving stand up skills. He is likely fighting for the chance to fight for the now vacant Strikeforce Welterweight Title.

Prediction: Who saw Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley at UFC 113? Expect much of the same here. Woodley has only struggled against fighters who are able to stuff his takedowns and force him to box. Unless Daley has greatly improved his takedown defense he’s going to be in for a long night. Woodley wasn’t able to do much in his last bout against Tarec Saffiedine, but Saffiedine is a far better BJJ artist than Daley. Woodley should be able to unleash some more ground and pound in this one and batter Daley in a fairly one-sided bout until he stops him in the second round.

Bets: This is another line that has been pounded by the betting public. Woodley started as a -230 favorite and has been bet up to a now almost 3-to-1 favorite on some books. Again this is a fight where I think the line has been bet too closely to the true line to represent a good bet. Woodley has all the tools to win this fight, but Daley is a veteran of the fight game, who can land a bomb to change the fight at any time. If Woodley is smart he’ll employ a game plan similar to Josh Koscheck’s and outwork Daley on the mat, if he tries to stand and trade punches though, he might be staring at the lights. No bet for me.

Middleweight Bout: Robbie Lawler (+220) vs. Tim Kennedy (-240)

“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler is an MMA veteran who has been around the sport for many years. Although only 29 years old he had his first fight 10 years ago in 2001. Since then he has racked up a career tally of 18-7-1. He is known for his heavy hands and willingness to brawl. He has extremely powerful striking skills, with an impressive 15 of 18 victories by form of KO or TKO. He is an extremely athletic and well-built fighter who often uses his wrestling and brute strength to keep the fight standing. However, Lawler has shown some glaring weaknesses off of his back as Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo Souza was able to control Lawler on the ground for three rounds before finally submitting him.

Tim Kennedy is a 31-year-old fighter from San Luis Obispo, California (the birthplace of Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell.) Kennedy is also a former member of the United States Armed Forces. Kennedy owns a career MMA record of 13-3, with 5 wins via Knockout and 7 wins via Submission. He is a strong boxer, but also has excellent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills to use when the fight hits the mat. Kennedy is also coming back from a loss to Middleweight Champion Ronaldo Souza two fights ago, a fight he lost by close, but ultimately Unanimous Decision. Kennedy has also spent several weeks of his current training camp at the famed Jackson’s MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Predictions: This one has all the makings of a Fight of the Night kind of scrap. Kennedy has already said that he respects Lawler’s power, but fully intends on coming right after him. I believe his exact quote was “I don’t really like judges and I don’t really like boring fights,” so this one should be filled with excitement. Kennedy has the stand up skills to hang in there with Lawler, but will be playing with fire every time he does so. Instead, he should look to shoot for takedowns and grind away on Lawler. If Kennedy can earn takedowns against Lawler he’ll earn points, but won’t be out of the woods yet. Lawler is extremely good at using his hips and brute strength to get back to his feet. Kennedy also has to be careful because every time he gets close enough to Lawler to take him down, you risk the chance of ending up in a clinch. And with the strength of Lawler’s uppercuts, that is not somewhere that you want to be. Overall I think that this one is anybody’s game, but the match up favors Kennedy if he is able to fight smart and stay away from the big counters of Lawler. I think Kennedy is able to find a submission in the second round, likely some kind of choke set up by ground and pound.

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Bets: I currently don’t have a bet on this fight, but I may by the time fight night rolls around. Often money can come in after the weigh-ins, and I’m hoping the public continues to back Tim Kennedy. As I stated in my right up, I think Kennedy will likely win the fight, but as money continues to pour in on him, the line is getting better for Lawler. Robbie Lawler has definite holes in his game and on the mat Kennedy should basically run game on him, but Lawler has solid stand up and is extremely strong. If the fight ends up in a clinch at any time, Lawler can end the fight with some big punches. At +220 he’s being given about a 30% chance to win the fight, if his line starts creeping towards the +250 range, I may make a small play for value and hope for an upset. Like I said, Kennedy should be the favorite and can win a ground battle. But getting 2.5-to-1 on a live underdog is a bet I won’t be passing up. Currently no bet however.

Women’s Welterweight (135 Pounds) Championship Bout: Marloes Coenen (c) (-105) vs. Miesha Tate (+105)

Miesha “Takedown” Tate is a 24-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Washington. She is a wrestler and Jiu Jitsu fighter with improving stand up skills. According to Yahoo Sports rankings, she is the 5th ranked female pound-for-pound fighter. She has a career record of 11-2, with 3 wins via TKO, 4 via Submission and 4 via Decisions. In her two losses, she has been KO’ed once and Decisioned once. However that decision loss was to superior wrestler Sarah Kaufman and was out-wrestled for 9 minutes (the bout took place before women’s MMA switched to 3 five minute rounds, from 3 three minute rounds.) Since the loss to Kaufman she has won 5 straight fights, including winning the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Tournament. Throughout the tournament she used superior takedowns and ground work to outwork her opponents. Also, important to note is her recent switch to Team Alpha Male, with the other great wrestlers in that gym she has steadily improved her skill set.

Marloes “Rumina” Coenen is a 30-year-old fighter from Amsterdam, Netherlands. She is a member of the famed Golden Glory gym, which is also home to the Overeem brothers. Coenen is well versed in Muay Thai and Kickboxing, but has earned many of her wins with her great submission game. Coenen has a career record of 19-4 with 14 wins via Submission. In her last fight Coenen showed some true grit, as after being outworked on the ground in the first three rounds by late replacement Liz Carmouche she was able to snag an impressive Triangle submission in the fourth round. Coenen has proven extremely difficult to finish, so with her strong chin and vaunted submissions, she is always alive and always dangerous in any fight.

Predictions: I really think that Miesha Tate is going to go to the blue print that Liz Carmouche started. She showed that Coenen’s defensive wrestling isn’t great, partially because Coenen is so good off of her back, she doesn’t mind being there. Tate is going to have to very positionally aware as she grounds and pounds on Coenen, as the champion is very crafty at setting up submissions and is extremely calm under pressure. However, working with the guys at Team Alpha Male should have her well prepared. Expect her to look very similar to fighters from that gym like the UFC’s Chad Mendes, she will likely use her striking as a means to establish range before shooting for takedowns. It’s unlikely she’ll finish Coenen as the champion has been stopped only by elite level female fighters, but she should have the strength and positional awareness to be on top for all five rounds, while avoiding submissions from the champion. Miesha Tate by Unanimous Decision in this one.

Bets: This is likely going to be my only bet of the night. I think Tate should be a slight favorite in this fight, as most fights that feature a strong wrestler against a strong grappler seem to go the wrestlers way. Tate will likely earn points with her takedowns for being on top, and strong wrestlers are often able to neutralize the grappling talents of BJJ artists with strength and positional awareness. I think the guys at Team Alpha Male will have Tate well prepared for the crafty submissions of Coenen and she’ll be able to wrestle her way to a Unanimous Decision victory. It’s likely still going to be a bumpy ride and is still an extremely close fight, so it’s not going to be a huge bet. But 1 unit on Tate at the current line, or anything at + money is a good bet in my book.

Lee McGregor is a fan of all combat sports including both Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. When not catching fights or watching hockey, he can be found as an Author and Editor at his own website MyManCave.ca

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