Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Strikeforce Strikes Back: March 3

Not long ago, I published a post about the upcoming night of fights on March 3, 2012, put on by both the UFC and Strikeforce. There were five fights announced by Strikeforce at the time: Tate/Rousey, Daley/Misaki, Noons/Thomson, Kaufman/Davis, and Fodor/Healy. Seeing that list, I assumed all of those fights were set for the main card, and the undercard would be rounded out by lesser-known talent. That’s when I was pleasantly surprised with the recent additions of two fights on the Strikeforce card. In the head-to-head, I stated that the UFC card would be a better choice, simply because the flyweight tournament will surely provide fireworks, as well as feature the top fighters in the division. However, with the addition of the two fights to an already intriguing and entertaining Strikeforce card, the reeling organization may now have the better card top-to-bottom. Here’s why:

The first fight added was Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle. With King Mo testing positive for ‘roids, this fight makes a lot of sense. Since joining the light-heavyweight ranks, Kyle has done pretty well for himself. He even almost took out heavyweight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva on short notice. He also holds an upset knockout victory over Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, prior to Feijao’s brief reign as light-heavyweight champion. At 205, Kyle is a powerful striker that can hurt anyone. Since his KO victory over the sometimes-dangerous Sokoudjou, Mousasi has not looked impressive in Strikeforce. King Mo wrestled (literally and figuratively) the light-heavyweight title away from him, then there was the draw with Keith Jardine, and even though he defeated rising prospect Ovince St. Preux, he looked completely gassed by the 3rd frame. The winner of this fight will hopefully get Feijao, and hopefully it will be for either a Strikeforce title or a UFC contract. Think about it…Mousasi vs. Feijao would make sense because Feijao is just about the only person Mousasi hasn’t fought in Strikeforce yet. Kyle vs. Feijao would make sense because then Strikeforce could hype up the rematch. Either way, Kyle and Mousasi have to face one another first. Kyle can end this fight if he lands a bomb on Mousasi, and having fought at heavyweight throughout his career, he will likely be the stronger of the two. However, his aggressive style leaves a lot of openings, and when a technically sound fighter such as Mousasi finds an opening, he can usually exploit it.

Ryan Couture vs. Conor Heun was the other fight announced for the date. This fight is interesting because we get to see if the son of the legendary “Natural” continues to develop and potentially follow his father’s footsteps to the UFC. However, “Natural Light” doesn’t have the same fighting style as his father. The younger Couture likes to put his submission skills on display. Still, when your father is Randy Couture, Ryan will be sure to bring a good gameplan to the cage. A neophyte in the sport with just four fights (3-1 overall), Couture faces a perfect test for this point of his career in Conor Heun. Though his Strikeforce record is 1-2, those two loses were very closely contested and hard-fought decision losses against extremely tough veterans Jorge Gurgel and KJ Noons. Couture will have to take his game to the next level if he wants to beat Heun. This fight should tell us if Couture has true potential in MMA, or if he is destined to make money from his last name only.

With the addition of those two fights, this Strikeforce card has a lot going for it. You get two top women’s bouts, three potentially exciting fights that mean a good amount to the current Strikeforce landscape, and two fights that feature two lightweight prospects looking to prove they’re the real deal. Top to bottom, this Strikeforce card has intriguing fights that could potentially all end before they hit the judges’ scorecards. Maybe Zuffa doesn’t want Strikeforce to die just yet. In fact, with all of the interesting fights now on the card, it makes me wonder if Zuffa is planning something to make sure this card and the UFC card don’t coincide at the same time. If it does play out where both shows overlap, I’m sticking with my guns for the UFC and the flyweights. However, if the tournament fights end before the Strikeforce card starts, Alves and Kampmann may have to wait on the DVR until after Tate vs. Rousey is over.

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