And then there’s Strikeforce.
It doesn’t overpay for free agents. It doesn’t offer itself as a challenger to UFC’s throne. It doesn’t say outrageous things to draw attention. The Bay Area promotion follows the tried-and-true maxim of slow and steady wins the race.
Tonight, Strikeforce offers its latest event, Destruction, featuring a light-heavyweight title fight pitting challenger Renato “Babalu” Sobral against champ Bobby Southworth. The card will be broadcast on HDNet.
It is the 15th event in the company’s history, but notably it’s the fourth since the beginning of September as they quietly ramp up their schedule.
Unfortunately, the company had to reshuffle their lineup after lightweight champ Josh Thomson was injured in training, but one hallmark of the group has been their ability to shift on the fly. In his place, they brought in respected veteran Duane “Bang” Ludwig, who will square off with Yves Edwards in a 164-pound catch weight fight.
Most recently, they managed to add an intriguing matchup between Scott Smith and Terry Martin, a pair of UFC veterans. They’ve also brought in Kim Couture, wife of ex-UFC champ Randy Couture, to make her Strikeforce debut.
But with Thomson gone, the spotlight will be on Sobral, the biggest name fighter on the card. The onetime UFC No. 1 light-heavyweight contender signed with Strikeforce over a year ago, but will finally make his debut after it was previously delayed by injuries. Of course, he is ready to go.
“I’m going to be looking for the knockout,” said Sobral, who has won three straight fights. “If I have to break my hand on his face, I will.”
Long live the king?
So far, I’ve picked all three of Lesnar’s UFC matchups correctly. Prior to last week, I believed that Lesnar would lose to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, should Nog beat Frank Mir in their matchup. Now, I’m not so sure.
The main reason is because Lesnar has tightened up his striking. It’s not flashy, but he handles the basics well, and with such power behind his punches he’ll be a handful for anyone standing, including Nogueira, who takes his boxing very seriously. The problem for Minotauro is he is at a severe power disadvantage in the standup. People like to point out that Nogueira can take a punch. That “gift” doesn’t last forever. The more you’re hit, the more it affects you over time. Lesnar can use his wrestling the way Chuck Liddell does and keep this fight standing, where he might have a better chance than on the ground, where he’ll be in the danger zone. He’d likely employ a similar strategy against Mir, should they face off. At its crux, it’s this simple: If Nogueira and Lesnar stood toe to toe for five rounds, who do you think is more likely to land a knockout blow?
Fedor-Lesnar ... Ugghh
Just two days after Lesnar beat Couture for the UFC heavyweight title, an M-1 executive issued a statement saying that Fedor Emelianenko would welcome a superfight with Lesnar. The statement was completely self-serving and designed to ride Lesnar’s coattails. The cheap publicity ploy was likely not Fedor’s idea, but it sullies his name. M-1 is the same group who brainstormed the idea to have Fedor fight the winner of an MMA reality show, so they will clearly go to any lengths to keep him in the public eye. There’s nothing wrong with seeking attention for a great fighter, but it would be nice if they let Lesnar have his moment in the sun before using his name to keep their fighter in the news.
I fully expect Randy Couture to continue fighting and drop to light-heavyweight, where there are fresh matchups to be had with fighters at a comparable size. And with his career winding down, he’s going out with superfights. That means possible clashes with guys like Rampage Jackson, Rich Franklin and Shogun Rua. How about Couture-Wanderlei Silva? They’re friends, but wouldn’t that be a fun fight?
WEC: Women’s Extreme Cagefighting?
I would bet money that the WEC signs free agent Gina Carano for one-off fights. Prior to the most recent WEC event that pitted Urijah Faber vs. Mike Brown, the company talked about its intention to put on pay-per-view events in 2009. To do that, you need headliners. Despite his loss, Faber still fills that bill, and bantamweight champ Miguel Torres is extremely gifted and will help bring in the coveted Latino demographic that keeps boxing pay-per-view alive. But what other WEC fighters are big enough names to build a pay-per-view around?
Carano brings star power. The decision is a no-brainer. Some have brought up the possibility of her signing with Affliction, but she has a longstanding business and personal relationship with Kim Couture. Given recent issues between the Coutures and Affliction, it doesn’t seem a likely destination for the face of women’s MMA.
MMA Fight Weekly
Nov. 20: Mike Chiappetta and Tiffany Simons discuss what wunderkind Brock Lesnar means to MMA's future.
Video: MMA from NBC Sports
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