Home > Event Preview > Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals Preview

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals Preview

September 10, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

So the Heavyweight Grand Prix continues tonight, though some of the luster is gone given Alistair Overeem’s departure.  Still, we have four ranked heavyweights ready to square off tonight with the two winners ready to move on to the finals later this year.

There’s so much more than that tonight as “Jacare” is set to defend his Strikeforce Middleweight Title against Luke Rockhold.  Light heavyweights King Mo and Roger Gracie square off in what should be an interesting battle, while lightweights Maximo Blanco and Pat Healy wrap up the main card.  The prelims also have a lot to offer tonight with ranked fighters such as Rafael Feijao, Marcos Pezao, Alexis Davis, and Amanda Nunes.

The semifinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix air tonight on Strikeforce at 10:00 PM EST/9:00 PM CST while the preliminary card airs on HDNet beginning at 8:00 PM EST/7:00 PM EST.  HDNet also has some fun stuff this afternoon including the best of DREAM and the Strikeforce weigh-ins.  This should be the event of the night, even with a good Bellator card and Klitschko vs. Adamek boxing this afternoon.  I’m generally an MMA fan, so I’m sure there are some boxing fans who will beg to differ with me on this.

Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals: Josh Barnett (30-5, No. 11 HW) vs. Sergei Kharitonov (18-4, No. 23 HW)

This should be an interesting fight.  I know that Barnett won’t be able to run through Kharitonov like he did the drunken abuser Brett Rogers, but his wrestling is still incredibly strong.  Kharitonov has the striking edge in this one and his sambo is very good, but does he have enough to keep Barnett from smothering him for three rounds?  Will he also be able to keep Barnett standing and engage in a striking battle?

In the end, I think Barnett will just be a little too much for the Russian.  I see this being closely contested and I could even see a split decision win for Barnett, but it will be a win for Barnett just the same.  Kharitonov will get his shots in and Barnett will work for his submissions, but these are two tough mother fuckers who won’t have any problems hanging in there.  Look forward to this one being fun.

Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals: Antonio Silva (16-2, No. 6 HW) vs. Daniel Cormier (8-0, No. 24 HW)

I really, really don’t see this fight going well for Cormier.  His win over Jeff Monson was impressive, yes, but a small heavyweight beating a small heavyweight only tells us so much.  Because of kidney issues, the 5’11” Cormier is unable to cut to light heavyweight, a weight where he should probably be competing.

Meanwhile, Antonio Silva’s head is 220 pounds alone so he easily makes the 265 pound limit count.  Silva generally fights closer to 300 pounds, adding so much extra weight after weigh-ins.  Silva is a dangerous striker and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and I’m not sure Cormier is strong enough to make his wrestling count.

I see Silva taking the TKO victory here tonight and advancing to a compelling finals fight against Josh Barnett.  This should be an interesting pro wrestling style grudge match, mostly due to the antics of Barnett.  That said, I really like Silva on a personal level as I feel like he’s a very likable fighter.  His celebration after defeating Fedor was complete joy and his recent trash talk with Chael Sonnen has been absolutely hilarious.  I really look forward to that potential fight.

Middleweight Title: (c) Ronaldo Souza (14-2, 1 NC, No. 5 MW) vs. Luke Rockhold (7-1)

Why even devote time to this write-up?  This is so, so lopsided and I see no way that Rockhold wins this one.  Jacare is going to have his way with his American opponent and will easily take a submission victory.  It kinda offends my sensibilities that this is the kind of fight Jacare is forced to take, but hopefully we’ll see him against Anderson Silva sooner rather than later.  At least that would be an interesting fight.

And I’ll call it right now, Silva vs. Jacare in early 2012.  Both fighters have recently competed and Strikeforce’s title holders have absolutely no allegiance to the promotion (and why should they?) so Jacare’s move to the UFC is inevitable at this point.

Light Heavyweight: Muhammed Lawal (7-1, No. 13 LHW) vs. Roger Gracie (4-0, No. 24 LHW)

I’m looking forward to this fight more than any other.  I love wrestlers and I love submission grapplers, and here, we have perhaps one of the best wrestlers in MMA fighting one of the best grapplers in the entire fucking world.  Seriously, Roger Gracie is scary good.  Seriously, look at his grappling record.  Just go look at his MMA record, where he’s submitted four name fighters in his very brief MMA career.  Go find the video of his fight with Trevor Prangley, where he made the South African look like a child with his out of this world Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Then there’s the great King Mo, who won a Division 2 national title in wrestling at the University of Central Oklahoma before becoming a Division 1 All-American at Oklahoma State.  Before being knocked out by Feijao, King Mo showed dominating wrestling and improved his striking along the way.  It’s a shame he injured himself, since I would have loved to see him fight Dan Henderson sometime in 2010 or 2011.

Will King Mo be worried about taking Roger Gracie down?  Seriously, he should be.  Mo can get Gracie to the mat, but that’s exactly where Gracie wants to be.  King Mo will not be safe if he’s on the ground with Gracie and he may just have to do his best to keep this fight standing.  Mo isn’t worried about what the fans think of his fights, he only wants the win – even if that’s at the expense of the fight.

I worry that we’ll see that here tonight, with Mo striking sparingly and keeping Gracie at a distance while he tries to pull guard or get King Mo down somehow.  I really hope it’s not the case and would love to see a fifth submission win from Roger Gracie, but I feel like a King Mo decision is pretty likely.

Lightweight: Maximo Blanco (8-2-1, 1 NC) vs. Pat Healy (25-16)

Maximo Blanco is making his Strikeforce debut in his first fight outside of Japan.  Maximo Blanco is very talented and has done some great things in Pancrase and Sengoku and is an experienced freestyle wrestler.  Maximo Blanco is scary.

I know that Pat Healy is a tough guy and has been around forever, but I have legitimate concerns about Blanco eviscerating Healy and hanging him from the ceiling like that one guard in Silence of the Lambs.  I really hope they have a couple of referees in the cage to keep Blanco from getting out of hand because I think this fight could go poorly for Healy.  Blanco by Murder Death Kill.

Light Heavyweight: Rafael Cavalcante (10-3, No. 12 LHW) vs. Yoel Romero (4-0)

At age 34, Romero has started his MMA career later than most but does remind me of another Cuban fighter: Alexis Vila.  Romero might be about 80 pounds heavier than his Cuban brother, but both men are Olympic wrestling medalists who have shown great knockout power at older ages.

Feijao is one of the top light heavyweight in Strikeforce and has dynamite in his hands, knocking out most of his opponents during a very successful career.  He’s only ever been knocked out by powerful strikers like Dan Henderson and Mike Kyle and I don’t know if Romero has faced a striker like Feijao.  I think we might see the Cuban resort more to his wrestling, which would likely ensure a victory in his Strikeforce debut.

I’ll take Romero for the upset here tonight by decision.  I think he’ll be the kind of fighter who can compete into his late 30’s given his well-roundedness and fight pedigree thus far.

Welterweight: Evangelista Santos (18-4) vs. Jordan Mein (22-7)

Santos loves to knock people out, but he also tends to get knocked out.  Mein also has his share of (T)KO wins, but also has a number of submissions to his name.  Mein is on a bit of a winning streak including an impressive victory over Marius Zaromskis while Cyborg is 4-6 in his last ten fights.  Expect Mein to pull off the submission win tonight in his Strikeforce debut, which also happens to be his first time fighting in America.

Light Heavyweight: Mike Kyle (18-8-1, 1 NC) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (8-0, No. 23 LHW)

Marcos Rogerio de Lima, better known as “Pezao”, is a scary man.  He’s fought in Brazil thus far, but holds a big win over PRIDE and WEC veteran Paulo Filho.  He has good BJJ, but that’s something we never see on account of him being a violent striker.  Bloody Elbow had him pegged as a top prospect at 205 pounds and he’ll finally be show what he’s got in America against Mike Kyle.

Kyle is a strong kickboxer and a bigger light heavyweight and he definitely has shown he has what it takes to hang with the big boys.  Still, Pezao might have striking the likes of which Kyle has never seen.  I like Pezao to take a KO win here and he’ll quickly ascend the ranks of light heavyweight now that he’s made his way to America.

Women’s Welterweight: Alexis Davis (10-4, No. 8 WWW) vs. Amanda Nunes (6-1, No. 4 WMW)

Alexis Davis is a little more on the…boring side of fighters.  I think she’s great and very talented, but her style isn’t always conducive to exciting fights.  Amanda Nunes likes to punch and punch hard.  Each of her six wins have come by (T)KO including victories over Julia Budd and Ediane Gomes.  Nunes also usually fights at 145 lbs. and we’ll see this battle contested at 135 lbs.

I think Nunes will take a seventh (T)KO victory.  I don’t know that Davis can handle her power in this one, but the weight cut could make an impact.  This should still be a very competitive battle.

Middleweight: Chris Mierzwiak (3-0) vs. Dominique Steele (3-1)

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Categories: Event Preview
  1. urijah bieber
    September 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Ouch. Don’t you love when an entire card is completely different than you expect?

    • September 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      Ha, no joke! I acknowledged as much in my review where I noted that I basically picked one fight on the main card right. 1.5 really, since I was pulling for Roger Gracie and picked King Mo.

      As long as my picks go a little better on the Bloody Elbow betting camp, I’ll be pleased.

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