The MMA shows keep coming as we move further into 2010, and Strikeforce will try to erase the bad memories from their Nashville show with a long-awaited title defense by Alistair Overeem tonight. Some other good fights are happening too, as Andrei Arlovski will return to action against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Let’s get right into the preview and picks.
Roger Gracie vs. Kevin Randleman
Ah, Kevin Randleman. Has any other fighter done so little with so much? It’s not even all Randleman’s fault, as he has had absolutely awful luck with injuries throughout the years, including a recent staph infection that apparently was not enough to keep him out of his fight tonight against Roger Gracie. Still, at this point in his career, Randleman can only do so much. The athleticism that set him apart from so many early in his career (and may have cursed him by allowing him to be complacent and avoid rounding out his skill set as he should have) is now fading, and his injuries have slowed him, too. Meanwhile, over a decade as a pro fighter has not helped him to learn jiu-jitsu, and he remains very vulnerable to anyone with very good ground skills.
Enter Roger Gracie, someone with very good ground skills. Gracie, a rare heavyweight from the first family of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, is widely regarded as one of the top grapplers in the world. This is not good for Randleman, who will be likely to end up on the mat at some point with Gracie, and will shortly thereafter be seen tapping quite vigorously to some hold or another. Randleman could possibly stand with Gracie to some success, but who knows how long that would end? Randleman isn’t exactly a K-1 level striker, either.
Prediction: Gracie by submission
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Joey Villasenor
Another top grappler is featured on tonight’s card in Ronaldo Souza, known to most as “Jacare”. Jacare will face Joey Villasenor, who has been a quality fighter throughout his career, but has had trouble getting to that elusive “next level”. Villasenor is mostly known for his crisp striking, which he will absolutely undoubtedly be looking to utilize in this bout. The problem is that Villasenor is not a fighter that usually uses distance to keep his foes at bay, and is more happy to strike from in close, which puts him right in range of Jacare’s competent takedowns.
Just as with the Randleman-Gracie fight, there will not be a lot of drama when this fight hits the mat. There is absolutely no way that even an experienced fighter like Villasenor will last very long rolling around with Jacare. Hey, there may not be any drama at that point, but that does not mean there won’t be any entertainment! Expect to see very impressive jiu-jitsu from Jacare in this one.
Prediction: Jacare by submission
Antonio Silva vs. Andrei Arlovski
I’ve always thought that Arlovski had top-level skills, and he has proven me right throughout his career. When he loses, it tends to be because his chin betrays him, and not due to any real technical deficiency on his part. Now, Arlovski returns from a long layoff after defeats by knockout from the hands of Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers. He will face an absolutely ginormous man named Antonio Silva, who was once hyped to be one of the top heavyweights in the world before coming down to earth a bit via a decision loss to Fabricio Werdum.
As long as this fight stays standing, Arlovski is in pretty good shape. That is, if he fights in an intelligent manner. The second that he gets too comfortable and thinks he should try something like that ill-advised flying knee that got him knocked out against Fedor, he’s in trouble. However, if he does what he has been saying he will do and fights a more patient style that plays to his strengths, it will be hard for Silva to so much as get a hand on him. Arlovski has always had ridiculous quickness and athleticism for a man of his size, and he will have plenty of success frustrating Silva by coming in with punches and then getting out of harm’s way before Silva can counter, as well as by utilizing some punishing leg kicks to further slow the big man down.
If Silva gets tired of that whole act, he may go for the takedown, and his best bet is simply to rush Arlovski, pin him against the cage, and work from there by using his size and weight advantage. He may be able to pound Arlovski out if he gets him to the mat. However, I’m going to put my faith in Arlovski and say that he will frustrate Silva on the way to a late victory.
Prediction: Arlovski by KO/TKO
Alistair Overeem vs. Brett Rogers
And finally, the heavyweight champion returns to defend the title that he likely forgot he had. When he won the title two and a half years ago, Rogers was a no-name with a 6-0 record who had just made his EliteXC debut with a win over the likes of Ralph Kelly. Now, he is challenging Overeem for his neglected title belt after knocking out Arlovski and giving Fedor a run for his money, to boot.
Much has been made of Overeem’s changed physique, which has ballooned from a lean and athletic 220 pounds (he cut to light heavyweight without any problems) to nearly 260 pounds of solid muscle. Make what you will of this change, but the remarkable thing about it is that Overeem has retained so much of his quickness and athleticism while putting the weight on. While Kazuyuki Fujita is not the fighter that he once was, it was still impressive to see Overeem spring forward and KO Fujita with such an explosive knee strike in their recent fight. To put it simply, Overeem is a bad, bad man.
Rogers is, too, but he also likes to get sloppy with his striking in his fights. This worked out okay against Arlovski (because he hit him on the button) and Fedor (who likes to brawl, himself), but Overeem is a different animal. He will exploit any mistakes that Rogers makes with far more technical striking, along with kicks and knees to wear the big man down. Furthermore, if the fight hits the floor, Rogers will be in big trouble there, as well. Overeem may not be an Abu Dhabi invitee, but he is more than happy to use his new-found power to bust up opponents from within their guard. Overeem takes this one.
Prediction: Overeem by KO/TKO
Tags: Alistair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski, Antonio Silva, Brett Rogers, Fedor Emelianenko, Joey Villasenor, Kevin Randleman, Roger Gracie, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Strikeforce, Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery