by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
STRIKEFORCE LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
RENATO “BABALU” SOBRAL VS. GEGARD MOUSASI
Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Renato “Babalu” Sobral defends his title against Armenian wunderkind Gegard Mousasi. These two were originally scheduled to meet two weeks ago on the Affliction “Trilogy” card, but that event was cancelled and their fight was made a title fight with the move to Strikeforce. This is one of the more anticipated fights on the card, so expect it deliver on all levels.
Mousasi has been on an absolute tear for the last two years and looks to be an unstoppable force. Sobral is a veteran and will look to use his experience against Mousasi. Sobral will need to use wrestling and get the fight on the floor, as he’ll need to stay off the feet if he wants to win. He’ll want to stay in close with ground and pound and not give Mousasi space to lock on a submission. If the fight stays on the feet, expect Mousasi to tee off on Babalu, who has shown that he can be finished on the feet.
STRIKEFORCE INTERIM LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
GILBERT MELENDEZ VS. MITSUHIRO ISHIDA
Hard hitting wrestler Gilbert Melendez faces off with wrestling specialist Mitsuhiro Ishida in a rematch of their close fight several years ago. Ishida replaces Josh Thomson, who had to pull out due to a nagging leg injury. Expect another back-and-forth fight between these two, as was their first encounter.
Melendez now switches to fighting a solid wrestler, while Thomson was a solid kickboxer and striker. He’ll need to keep the fight on the feet and the pace quick, keeping Ishida on his toes and not letting him settle into a groove. Ishida will be looking to impose his wrestling will on Melendez, but will need to avoid getting hit on the way in to score a takedown. If he can do that then Melendez will have a long night, unless he can catch Ishida on the feet. The one x-factor in the fight will be what kind of shape Ishida is in after taking the fight on a couple weeks’ notice and if he can go five hard rounds.
FABRICIO WERDUM VS. MIKE KYLE
Chute Boxe heavyweight Fabricio Werdum faces off with hard hitting heavyweight Mike Kyle. Both fighters lost their original opponents several weeks ago and now face one another in an intriguing fight. This is a classic clash of styles with Werdum being the grappler and Kyle the striker.
Plain and simple, this fight will not get out of the first round. Either Werdum will win by submission or Kyle will put his lights out. If Werdum gets the fight on the ground, it’s over. He’ll just need to get in close and secure the takedown. Kyle will need to keep the distance and stay out of takedown range, which will open up opportunities for him to end the fight with one big shot.
JAY HIERON VS. JESSE TAYLOR
Xtreme Couture welterweight Jay Hieron faces off with Team Quest fighter Jesse Taylor. Taylor takes the fight on about a week’s notice thanks to Nick Diaz being Nick Diaz and failing to show up for his drug test. This is the third different opponent that Hieron has had in the last several weeks as fights have been falling through for him.
Hieron is known for his wrestling and boxing ability, while Taylor is primarily a solid wrestler. Taylor will be moving down from middleweight for this fight and will be the much bigger fighter on Saturday night. Hieron will need to keep the fight on the feet as Taylor is the better wrestler of the two and will use his size advantage to boot on the ground. Taylor will look to wrestle Hieron down and keep him there with solid ground and pound. Hieron’s best chance will be to finish the fight on the feet.