by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com

Joey Villasenor vs.
Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos


Jackson’s Submission Fighting middleweight Joey Villasenor
faces off with free swinging Chute Boxe middleweight Evangelista “Cyborg”
Santos. These two were supposed to meet last year in a Strikeforce show, but a
visa issue prevented the fight from happening. Expect fireworks from these two,
as neither fighter wants it to go the distance.


One thing that could be expected of these two would be a
brawl, but for Villasenor that would be a mistake. That is exactly what Santos
wants. Instead, Villasenor should stay on the outside and use his technical
advantage over Santos by picking his shots and slowly wearing him down. If the
fight sees any action on the floor, Villasenor would be wise to use his
wrestling to control the wily Santos.


A win for either fighter could be big, as it seems that
Strikeforce will crown an interim middleweight champion later this year.


Nick Thompson vs. Tim


Former Bodog welterweight champion Nick Thompson faces off
with U.S. Army Ranger Tim Kennedy. Thompson will be moving up from
welterweight for this fight, while Kennedy fights for the first time in 18 months.
This should be an interesting clash of styles as these two fighters try to move
up the ranks.


If the fight stays on the feet for the majority of the time,
it should be rather interesting, as Thompson will have a reach advantage over
Kennedy. He will look to stay on the outside and land effective combinations,
while Kennedy will look to get on the inside and turn the fight into a brawl.
Thompson should be the better fighter on the ground as he has shown that he has
some submission ability. Kennedy on the other hand likes to brawl, but is also
an effective wrestler. Neither fighter really has a feeling out process, so expect
them to get right at each other.


Jorge Gurgel vs.
Conor Heun


UFC veteran Jorge Gurgel takes on Southern California
lightweight Conor Heun. Both fighters will be making their Strikeforce debuts
and will no doubt be looking to impress the higher ups to climb the ladder in
the lightweight division. Like most lightweight bouts, expect the pace to be
quick and exciting.


Gurgel is a talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but you
wouldn’t know it because he never takes the fight the ground. If he stays on
the feet with Heun, he will more than likely get out struck like in his past
fights and lose another decision. Gurgel needs to take the fight on the
ground, where he has a huge advantage over the inexperienced Heun. On the other
hand, if Heun can keep the fight on the feet, he will be able to get the
biggest victory of his career.


Sarah Kaufman vs.
Shayna Baszler


Canadian striker Sarah Kaufman faces off with submission
specialist Shayna Baszler. This will be the first time in Strikeforce history
that a women’s fight will be contested with five-minute rounds. Neither fighter
tends to go the distance, so expect a quick and precise finish to the fight.


Kaufman obviously has the big advantage standing as she is a
beast on the feet and that is Baszler’s glaring weakness. If the fight hits the
ground, than Baszler has a much better chance to win the fight with a
submission. All Kaufman has to do is keep the fight on the feet and it will
only be a matter of time before she ends it, while Baszler needs to do
everything to get the fight on the ground if she wants to win.


Cory Devala vs. Luke


Local Washington based fighter Cory Devala takes on American
Kickboxing Academy prodigy Luke Rockhold. This will be a big fight for both men,
as Devala needs to rebound from a loss his last time out and a win for Rockhold
could be the thing that propels him into the mixed martial arts limelight.
Expect a quick and exciting fight as both fighters promised to finish.


This is a rather interesting clash of styles with Devala
playing the role of the striker and Rockhold being the submission fighter. If
the fight stays on the feet, Devala will have an advantage, but not by much as
Rockhold has greatly improved his striking. No one would know it, however, as
he finishes all his fights on the ground. On the ground, Rockhold is the better
fighter and has shown it in his young mixed martial arts career. For Devala to
win the fight, he’ll need to sprawl and brawl, while Rockhold wants to end it
with a submission on the ground.