This Saturday Strikeforce returns intent on restoring their reputation after the post fight melee in Nashville. They will be featuring their heavyweights in St. Louis including their champion's first title defense and first fight in the organization in almost three years.
Alistair Overeem won the first Strikeforce heavyweight title back in November of 2007. Since then he has fought exclusively outside of the US. Many speculate this is due to the strengthening of drug testing in the US compared to Japan (and Holland).
This is a perplexing fight for the challenger Brett Rogers. He is coming off a loss to arguably the best heavyweight in the world (Fedor Emelianenko) yet he is the one fighting for the title. If he wins, what happens then?
All in all this is an interesting situation but it should be an incredibly exciting fight based on both fighters striking pedigree and power. Also highlighting this card is former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski vs top contender Antonio Silva. Let's break down the card:
Heavyweight Championship: Alistair Overeem (c) vs Brett Rogers
Overeem is 32-11 with 31 wins by stoppage. He is a vaunted kick boxer but has a well rounded grappling game as well. He fought some of the best fighters in the world in Pride with less than stellar results.
Rogers is 10-1 with all 10 wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with some wrestling. Outside of Fedor he hasn't faced much top competition.
Even though Overeem hasn't fared very well against top competition in his career Rogers isn't exactly top competition. Both fighters are good strikers with a lot of power so anything could happen in this fight.
However, based on skill level I think Overeem is the better technical striker and is better on the ground if it went there for some strange reason. That is why I'm picking him to win by TKO in the second round.
Andrei Arlovski vs Antonio Silva
Arlovski is 15-7 with 14 wins by stoppage. He is a striker first with some grappling ability. He is a former UFC champion and has fought some of the best fighters in the world with mostly positive results.
Silva is 13-2 with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a striker first with some jiu jitsu background. He has fought almost no top competition.
This is an incredibly tough fight to call. Arlovski has looked awful in his last two fights and hasn't fought in almost a year. However, on paper I would say he's the more talented fighter.
Silva hasn't really fought anyone good and lost to a less than stellar Fabricio Werdum his last time out. He will be the bigger stronger fighter but shouldn't be better technically than Arlovski.
If Arlovski proves he can last more than one round I think he can take this fight with his superior technique and speed. But Silva could easily come out blasting and blow Arlovski's doors off. This is a really tough fight to call but I'm taking a shot in the dark and picking Arlovski too pull out a decision win.
Ronaldo Souza vs Joey Villasenor
Souza is 11-2 with 10 wins by submission. He is a jiu jitsu fighter. He has fought some tough fighters over the past couple years with mixed results.
Villasenor is 27-6 with 21 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter with boxing and jiu jitsu skills. He has fought some tough fighters with mixed results but hasn't fought in close to a year.
If Villasenor can keep this fight standing he has a distinct advantage. However, if it goes to the ground you have to give Souza the edge. But due to the disparity on the feet I'm going with Villasenor to win by KO in the first round.
Roger Gracie vs Kevin Randleman
Gracie is 2-0 with both wins by submission. He is a jiu jitsu fighter. He is still in the infancy of his MMA career but is a highly decorated jiu jitsu fighter (as you would expect from a Gracie).
Randleman is 17-14 with nine wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with solid ground and pound. He has fought a lot of good fighters but with average results at best.
This will wind up being a very boring fight for uneducated fight fans if it goes to a decision. It's going to hit the mat early and stay there.
Randleman will want to impose his will and deliver a beating while Gracie will look to grab a submission. Randleman is past his prime with limited jiu jitsu skills so even though Gracie is still green and hasn't fought in two years I think he can pull out the win. I'm picking Gracie by submission in the first round.
Rafael Cavalcante vs Antwain Britt
Cavalcante is 8-2 with all eight wins by stoppage. He is a muay thai striker. He hasn't faced any top competition to date.
Britt is 11-3 with nine wins by KO. He is a striker. He hasn't faced any top competition either.
This should be a solid stand up scrap. Neither guy has an overwhelming resume but I think Cavalcante is the more talented fighter from what I've seen.
Both fighters could land the knockout blow but I'm going with Cavalcante to pull off the decision win.
Vitor Ribeiro vs Lyle Beerbohm
Beerbohm is in deep trouble in this fight even though he is the undefeated fighter in this bout. Even though Ribeiro has been out for almost a year he is a master jiu jitsu fighter who has only lost to Aoki, "JZ" Cavalcante, and Kawajiri. Beerbohm will try to stand but his strength is wrestling and ground and pound so the fight will get to the mat at some point.
Once the fight hits the ground it will be all Ribeiro which is why I'm picking him to hand Beerbohm his first loss by submission in the second round.