by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
Strikeforce will produce a historic mixed martial arts event in Beverly Hills, Calif. Saturday night at the Playboy Mansion. “Strikeforce at the Mansion” is the first ever MMA event to be held at the home of Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine.
MMAWeekly.com’s Ricardo Mendoza takes an inside look at the event, breaking it down fight by fight.
GILBERT MELENDEZ VS. TETSUJI KATO
Strikeforce World Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez takes on Shooto veteran Tetsuji Kato. Gilbert Melendez has a 12-0 record and trains as part of the Jake Shields Fight Team with Jake Shields. Tetsuji Kato has an 18-7 record and trains out of Purebred in Japan. Melendez comes off a decision victory over Tatsuya Kawajiri at Pride Shockwave 2006. Kato lost a TKO stoppage to Joe Camacho at Pacific X-treme Combat 11: No Turning Back.
Melendez hasn’t fought for nine months, waiting while Zuffa, LLC sorted out his contract with Pride Fighting Championships after its purchase of the venerable Japanese promotion. Melendez is considered to be one of the best lightweights in the world. It’s refreshing to see that he’ll finally get some action in Strikeforce. Kato is a respected longtime veteran of Shooto and was one of its bigger stars several years ago, but time hasn’t been kind to Kato. He has been on the wrong end of fights recently and looks to prove that he is still relevant on today’s MMA scene.
Melendez is the younger and more skilled fighter at this point, but Kato should provide a tough test for the returning fighter. Look for Melendez to get off to a slow start, shaking off the cobwebs, before turning up the heat in the latter rounds and finishing Kato.
Prediction: Gilbert Melendez by TKO in the second round.
JOE RIGGS VS. EUGENE JACKSON
Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Joe Riggs takes on Strikeforce U.S. Middleweight Champion Eugene Jackson. Joe Riggs has a 26-9 record and trains out of Arizona. Eugene Jackson has a 15-7-1 record and trains at Gladiators Training Academy in California. Riggs comes off a submission victory over Dan Chambers at Hardcore Fighting Championships. In his most recent bout, Jackson submitted Ronald Jhun at Strikeforce: Triple Threat.
Riggs is one of the more gifted fighters to grace mixed martial arts, but his talent hasn’t exactly translated from the training room to the cage. Jackson has been in the sport since the old days, a veteran of some of the pre-Zuffa UFC events. He has resurrected his career with Strikeforce.
Riggs has gone through some tough times, but has finally cleared his head and recovered from several injuries. Jackson also comes off an injury and hasn’t seen action in nine months. So, this is a test for him to see how he can do against one of today’s young, talented fighters.
Riggs has some serious power in his hands. Jackson will be obliged to trade with him, which could lead to his downfall. Look for both fighters to want to stand and exchange blows with Riggs hurting Jackson and finishing him off with strikes on the ground.
Prediction: Joe Riggs by TKO in the first round.
JOSH THOMSON VS. ADAM LYNN
Strikeforce U.S. Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson takes on International Fight League veteran Adam Lynn. Josh Thomson has a 12-2 record and trains at American Kickboxing Academy with Jon Fitch. Adam Lynn has an 11-7 record and trains at Next Generation with Chris Brennan. Thomson most recently submitted Nick Gonzalez at Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Baroni. Lynn won a decision victory over Josh Odom in May at the IFL show in Chicago.
Thomson has been a Strikeforce mainstay since it started promoting MMA shows in 2006. He is one of the best lightweights in the world, but hasn’t exactly faced the toughest competition as of late. Lynn suffered two consecutive knockout losses prior to the win in May and needs to stay on the winning track.
Lynn looks to get a fresh start with a new organization, but he has his hands full. Expect Thomson to use the same strategy as others have used against Lynn and try to turn out the lights with his superior stand-up.
Prediction: Josh Thomson by KO in the first round.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
BOBBY SOUTHWORTH VS. BILL MAHOOD
Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Bobby Southworth takes on Bodog Fight veteran Bill Mahood. Bobby Southworth has a 7-4 record and trains at American Kickboxing Academy with Cain Velasquez. Bill Mahood has a 15-5-1 record and fights for Epic Management in Canada. Southworth won a decision victory over Vernon White at Strikeforce: Triple Threat. Mahood defeated Steve Steinbeiss by decision at Bodog Fight: Clash of Nations.
This is one of the more evenly matched fights on the card as both fighters are hardened, durable athletes. Southworth is an excellent counter puncher and highly proficient on the ground. Mahood has an aggressive striking style. His ground game is lagging, but slowly catching up to his stand-up.
Southworth and Mahood have both fought tough, experienced fighters; so neither has an advantage over the other in that department. Look for Mahood to be aggressive on the feet and for Southworth to counter with crisp boxing. As the fight continues, expect Southworth to take it to the ground and grind out a decision win.
Prediction: Bobby Southworth by decision.
MATT LEE VS. JORGE MASVIDAL
Bodog Fight veteran Matt Lee takes on American Top Team lightweight Jorge Masvidal. Matt Lee has a 9-6-1 record and trains as part of Team Elite with Jorge Rivera. Jorge Masvidal has an 11-2 record in MMA and trains at American Top Team with Thiago Alves. Lee comes off a decision loss to Eddie Alvarez at Bodog Fight: Trenton, while Masvidal scored a TKO stoppage victory over Yves Edwards at the same event.
This is an interesting fight, as both fighters have something to prove. Lee wants to show that he can hang with the top fighters in the world. Masvidal wants to prove that his recent wins aren’t a fluke.
Lee is going to have a significant reach advantage over the smaller Masvidal and needs to exploit it with knees and kicks. Despite Lee’s advantage, Masvidal should be able to outwork him both on the ground and on the feet en route to a decision victory.
Prediction. Jorge Masvidal by decision.
DANIEL PUDER VS. RICHARD DALTON
World Wrestling Entertainment “Tough Enough” winner Daniel Puder takes on heavyweight fighter Richard Dalton. Daniel Puder has a 5-0 record and trains at American Kickboxing Academy with Bobby Southworth. Richard Dalton has a 3-2-1 record and trains at North County Fight Club with Jason Lambert. Puder scored a TKO stoppage victory over Michael Alden at Bodog Fight: Costa Rica. Dalton was submitted by Ray Seraille at Total Combat 20.
Puder has been brought along slowly since his return to the sport in early 2006, building his way up to tougher opposition. Dalton has been a regular in Total Combat. This fight with Puder is the biggest opportunity of his career.
Puder is a solid ground fighter, but has yet to prove himself on the feet where he is still learning how to fight effectively. Many pundits believe that Puder is being protected and hasn’t fought tough opponents. It’s hard to doubt that in this fight. Dalton will look to dispel that notion, but Puder should be able to finish Dalton in the first round with a submission.
Prediction: Daniel Puder by submission in the first round.
THE REST OF THE FIGHT CARD:
Billy Evangelista vs. Clint Coronel
Falaniko Vitale vs. Ron Fields
Dewey Copper vs. Adam Smith
Eddie Millis vs. Daniel McWilliams
Luke Stewart vs. Sam Liera
Anthony Figueroa vs. Miguel Linares