Saturday, December 17, 2011

Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal preview

You know what it's like to be better than most everyone around you? The big fish in a small pond, so to speak?

Well, Gilbert Melendez, to quote The Rock, "Is a whale in a teardrop!"

The Strikeforce Lightweight Champion is a unanimous top-five fighter at 155 lbs. Some have him as high as No. 2 in the world, including myself (though Ben Henderson is certainly up there).

Unfortunately for him, though, there is no way to move higher. No one outside the UFC gives enough of a challenge to put him above current UFC Champion Frankie Edgar, or anyone who might beat Edgar - cough*Henderson*cough.

It's not for lack of trying. Melendez has been pushing to get into the UFC, but he has had to wait until Strikeforce closed its doors to move into the "A" Show.

Now that Dana White has announced that Strikeforce will be sticking around (with Melendez in it), he will continue to 'flounder' in a company that makes him look like Moby Dick.

Tonight, Melendez puts his belt on the line against Jorge Masvidal. While he is a legitimate fighter, and his boxing can give problems for the wrestler Melendez, Masvidal's best hope is that the distraction and confusion over Strikeforce's future will weaken the champion.

I don't see it happening, so I'm picking Melendez by Rd. 3 Submission.

Women's 145-lb. Championship bout: 'Cyborg' Santos (c) v. Hikoro Yamanaka

In the co-main event, a depleted division limps to its first title defense in a year. Yamanaka fights almost as infrequently as Santos, and hasn't been to a decision in three fights.

The two fight similar styles, and Yamanaka may be the real deal here. That said, I'm going with the established champion

Winner: Cyborg by KO in Rd. 2

Light Heavyweight bout: Gegard Mousasi v. Ovince St. Preux

I was going to gloss over the last two fights, but I wanted to justify my pick of OSP by decision. 

OSP has been on an eight-fight win streak, making a man submit to strikes in his last fight. More importantly, Mousasi hasn't fought a wrestler of OSP's caliber since his last loss (to wrestler Muhammad Lawal).

I don't think Mousasi has improved enough just yet, so I have to lean towards the upset.

In the final fight of the main card, I'll take the striking prowess of KJ Noons by Rd. 1 KO in a lightweight clash with Billy Evangelista.

Follow my coverage of this at!/seantherebel

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