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Strikeforce Rousey vs. Kaufman Predictions & Analysis

Another weekend and another major MMA event for Zuffa. This time instead of the world-famous octagon of the UFC, action will be taking place inside the hexagonal cage of Strikeforce. Back once again in it’s home state of California the UFC’s sister promotion brings an event headlined by the new face of Women’s MMA Ronda Rousey. Live this Saturday from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California Strikeforce presents a five-bout main card on Showtime. Because we’re a little short on time this weekend, I’m going to skip the usual background information on the bouts and get right into analysis.

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Hiroko Yamanaka vs. Germaine de Randamie

Hiroko “The Incomplete Queen” Yamanaka is one of Japan’s top female fighters. She is a talented and well-rounded fighter who has decent striking skills and has a strong submission grappling game when she is able to ply her trade from the top position. Unfortunately she’s most notable for getting pasted by Christiane “Cyborg” Santos in her Strikeforce debut. Germanie “The Iron Lady” de Randamie is a Muay Thai striker from the Netherlands. She has very little experience and a modest 2-2 record. For me this bout is simply going to come down to experience, and the edge in that department goes to Yamanaka. I expect her to weather the early storm and eventually drag her opponent to the mat before finding a submission late in round one. Hiroko Yamanaka via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Middleweight Bout: Adlan Amagov vs. Keith Berry

Adlan “The Wolf” Amagov is a Russian fighter who now lives and trains stateside in Fairfield, New Jersey. Amagov has decent grappling skills and an aggressive striking game. At times he over relies on his big right hand, but he can also cause a lot of damage with big overhand rights if he doesn’t get caught over-committing like what happened to him against Robbie Lawler in his last bout. Keith “KO Kid” Berry is 0-2 in Strikeforce and has been dominated on the ground in both fights. Berry has an unimpressive record of 11-9 and has struggled against even mediocre fighters in the past. Amagov might make it interesting if he gets overly aggressive and takes a couple punches, but he’s the better fighter and he should stop Berry in the first or second. Adlan Amagov via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Lightweight Bout: Bobby Green vs. Matt Ricehouse

Bobby “King” Green is a former King of the Cage Lightweight Champion and is probably best known for appearing on an episode of Bully Beatdown. He is a talented grappler with a blue belt in BJJ, he owns fifteen stoppage victories in 18 career wins. Matt Ricehouse is an undefeated fighter from St. Louis and is one of Strikeforce’s top homegrown talents. He is a talented grappler who is the only man to defeat Ryan Couture. This is a match between two talented fighters and despite Green’s edge in experience I actually like Ricehouse in this bout. I think their striking is about even, perhaps a slight edge to Green and their ground games are close, with a slight edge to Ricehouse. In a fight like that, I favor the guy who will likely spend the most time in top control and in my opinion that’s going to be Ricehouse, who takes home a decision. Matt Ricehouse via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Miesha Tate vs. Julie Kedzie

Miesha “Takedown” Tate is the former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, a belt she lost to current champ Ronda Rousey. Tate is a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym and has shown some promise in her career so far. She has decent striking and excellent takedowns, she’s also extremely tough as her bout with Rousey proved. Julie “Fireball” Kedzie is a Tae Kwan DO and BJJ fighter. She is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. Tate is probably the more talented fighter, but Kedzie has the kind of style to give anyone fights. It’ll be closer than most people expect, but I think Tate can still pull this one off, using takedowns and positional advantage to take a decision. Miesha Tate via Unanimous Decision

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Main Card (Showtime): Light Heavyweight Bout: Ovince St. Preux vs. TJ Cook

Ovince “OSP” St. Preux is a Haitian-American fighter who is a former NCAA Football player, playing Linebacker for the University of Tennessee. He is a well-conditioned athlete, strong and agile for his size. He has also developed a strong striking game based mainly around his speed advantages and his ability to counterpunch effectively. TJ Cook is an aggressive striker who has looked less than impressive in the grappling department. Although Cook is a decent striker, he’ll be giving up 7.5-inches of reach against a talented counter-striker in OSP, which will be challenging for him to overcome. Add that to the fact that he was schooled on the ground in his Strikeforce debut against Trevor Smith and it’s hard to imagine him having a lot of success against OSP. St. Preux was a top prospect before he got fed to Gegard Mousasi, I think he rights the ship with an impressive KO victory. Ovince St. Preux via KO in Round Two

Main Card (Showtime): Middleweight Bout: Lumumba Sayers vs. Anthony Smith

Lumumba “Heavy Hands” Sayers is a talented striker from Denver, Colorado. He lost his promotional debut but has since rallied back with two stoppage victories over Antwain Britt (via KO) and Scott Smith (via Submission.) Sayers is well-rounded and isn’t afraid to back down from a brawl if the opportunity presents itself, so this bout might have some potential for fireworks. Anthony “Lion heart” Smith has very little big show experience, going 1-1 in his past Strikeforce fights. He is definitely a gamer who comes to fight, as he’s never been to a decision in his professional career. Sayers should have the edge basically wherever this fight goes and Smith hasn’t shown anything impressive except for a willingness to move forward and put on exciting fights, which is probably what earned him a spot on the main card. Unfortunately for him, he’s basically a sacrificial lamb for Sayers. Lumumba Sayers via KO in Round One

Main Card (Showtime): Welterweight Bout: Tarec Saffiedine vs. Roger Bowling

Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine is a talented fighter from Belgium, who may actually be knocking on the door of being the next to challenge for Nate Marquardt’s Welterweight title. Saffiedine is a talented striker, although he looked somewhat shaky in his last bout against Tyler Stinson. That fight also showed his versatility however, as he switched to a wrestling heavy attack and won the bout after getting lit up in the first round. “Relentless” Roger Bowling is a well-rounded fighter who was once thought to be a top Welterweight prospect. After losing 2 out of 3 fights in a trilogy of bouts with Bobby Voelker, he’s rebounded a bit with 2 straight KO victories. Saffiedine is a serious step up in competition, but Saffiedine did look flat in the first round against Stinson. If he comes out like that, he’s going to get beat up. I think the more likely outcome though is that Saffiedine shakes off his last poor performance and brings the fight to Bowling. He stays at range and uses leg kicks and well-timed takedowns with top control to take a decision. Tarec Saffiedine via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Showtime): Middleweight Bout: Ronaldo Souza vs. Derek Brunson

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. He is one of the most dangerous submission grapplers on the planet with a number of Abu Dhabi Combat Club victories. Since joining the Black House alongside Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo black belt has added a technically sound striking attack to his regimen. Derek “The Human Blanket” Brunson is the owner of one of the least-flattering nicknames in the sport of MMA, but is a talented fighter none-the-less. He is a former NCAA Division 2 Wrestler who now splits his training time with Greg Jackson and Renzo Gracie. Brunson like his nickname might suggest prefers to use a wrestling heavy attack, utilizing takedowns and ground control to beat his opponents. It’s probably not going to be enough against Souza. Going to the ground with Souza is a surefire way to get submitted and the Brazilians striking is so much improved that he’s probably the favorite in a pure kickboxing contest. Brunson’s recent loss to Kendall Grove is also worrisome since Grove is not nearly as dangerous on the ground as Souza is. It could be a decision if the bout stays standing, because despite his improved striking, Souza still hasn’t shown any real knockout power, but if he can get on top of Brunson he’s probably going to choke him out. Ronaldo Souza via Submission in Round Three

Main Card (Showtime): Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout: Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman

“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is the reigning and defending Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion. She is undefeated as a professional and is the new face of Women’s MMA, who has exploded as a media darling heading into this bout. She is a former Olympian, who earned a bronze medal in Judo at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Rousey has spent a lot of time training for this bout with the Diaz brothers, which has surely improved her boxing skills. As it is, she is a tough fighter, with an aggressive style and a nasty arm bar, which she has used to defeat all of her career opponents, all of them in the first round. Sarah Kaufman is one of Canada’s top fighters of any gender, but is often overlooked due to her fairly un-fan-friendly style. Kaufman is a grinder who uses takedowns and top control to control her opponents on the mat and earn decisions. Kaufman has the wrestling to make this a tough fight for Rousey, but there is one glaring problem on Kaufman’s record. She was arm barred in 2010 by Marloes Connen, and while Connen is a talented grappler in her own right, she doesn’t have the background that Rousey brings to the table. If Rousey is focused on fighting and not being a media darling, she should be able to add another first round submission to her record, but if things don’t go her way, we’ll see how she handles the pressure of a real fight, as well as all of the pressure she’ll be feeling from outside the cage. With all that said, I still think the hype train continues to roll. Ronda Rousey via Submission in Round One

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