Strikeforce: Lawler v. Shields Preview

Live from St. Louis on Saturday June 6th, Strikeforce returns with their second major card since their purchase of EliteXC. The main card is pretty stacked and I can’t wait to see how a lot of the new additions to Strikeforce will shake things up. Let’s start breaking down the fights:

Rafael Cavalcante v. Mike Kyle: Cavalcante is 7-1, making his Strikeforce debut, with all seven wins by stoppage. He is a muay thai fighter. Kyle is 11-6-1, 0-1-1 in Strikeforce, with nine wins by stoppage. He is also a striker.

Kyle is stepping in for Renato Sobral who backed out of the fight due to his wife’s due date with their child being too close to the fight. So instead of Cavalcante getting a title shot on the main card he’s been relegated to the undercard. I think this could either really motivate him or totally drain him of motivation.

I’m betting on the former and I think Cavalcante has the better striking. I’m expecting this fight to have a brutal finish. I’m picking Cavalcante to win by KO in the second round.

Kevin Randleman v. Mike Whitehead: Randleman is 17-12, making his Strikeforce debut, with nine wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with strong ground and pound. Whitehead is 23-7, also making his Strikeforce debut, with 17 wins by stoppage. He is wrestler with solid boxing.

Randleman is the better wrestler and I expect him to do what he always does and take Whitehead down and try to pound him out. Whitehead, a solid grappler in his own right, is not dangerous off his back and I don’t expect him to pose any threat once Randleman takes him down. I’m going to pick Randleman to win via TKO in the second round using his brutal ground and pound.

Phil Baroni v. Joe Riggs: Baroni is 13-10, 0-1 in Strikeforce, with 10 wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with solid wrestling. Riggs is 29-10, 2-2 in Strikeforce, with 27 wins by stoppage. He has solid boxing, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu.

Pure and simple I think Riggs is the better fighter with more tools in his belt. I expect him to come out and handle Baroni. I don’t know if Riggs could get Baroni to the mat so I think he’ll have to win on his feet. I’m picking Riggs to win by decision.

Nick Diaz v. Scott Smith: Diaz is 19-7, 1-0 in Strikeforce, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu-jitsu fighter with really good boxing. Smith is 15-5, 2-0 in Strikeforce, with all 15 wins by stoppage. He is striker.

Diaz is lucky to have a promotion cater so much to him giving him his second catch weight bout in a row as he can’t decide whether to stay down at 170 or move up to 185. This fight will take place again at 179 lbs. In any case, he gets a strong opponent here in Smith who is as tough as they come and is an excellent striker. Unfortunately for Smith, Diaz is a very good boxer but his grappling game is light years ahead of Smith’s.

If Diaz has any brains at all he will use his striking to set up a take down where he should have a pretty easy time with Smith. I’m picking Diaz to win by submission in the second round.

Andrei Arlovski v. Brett Rogers: Arlovski is 15-6, making his Strikeforce debut, with 14 wins by stoppage. He is well rounded but mostly utilizes his boxing and wrestling now in a sprawl and brawl style. However he also has sambo, kickboxing, and jiu-jitsu backgrounds. Rogers is 9-0, 1-0 in Strikeforce, with all nine wins by stoppage. He is a also a striker.

This will be Rogers first major test at heavyweight. He will be the bigger fighter as usual but he will be facing a more technically sound fighter who can actually use his speed to his advantage. I don’t think Rogers is ready to handle the type of striking Arlovski brings to the table.

In the past I would’ve suggested Arlovski try to get the fight to the mat but since he’s bouncing back and forth between this and boxing he’s stuck to striking in his most recent fights. However, in this fight it shouldn’t be an issue. He’ll move around and create angles on the much bigger but slower Rogers.

The only thing that concerns me in this fight is Arlvoski’s frame of mind. He’s coming off a devastating loss and has been flirting with switching to boxing. If his mind is in the right place I like him in this fight. If not it will be a short night for him. However, I’m betting that his head will be in this fight and he’ll frustrate Rogers and wear him down until he can go in for the kill. I like Arlovski to win easily in the fight with a TKO victory in the first round.

Robbie Lawler v. Jake Shields: Lawler is 18-4, making his Strikeforce debut, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Shields is 22-4-1, also making his Strikeforce debut, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a grappler with strong wrestling and jiu-jitsu.

This should be a great clash of styles match at a catch weight of 182 lbs. Shields is moving up for this fight so Lawler should have the size advantage. If Shields can get Lawler to the mat he should be able to get the win. However, if he can’t get the fight to mat he will be in for a short night.

I usually go for the grappler plus I think Shields is just the better fighter but I’m more cautious than usual due to the size difference between him and Lawler. I think I’m going to stick with my instincts though and say that Shields uses his wrestling technique to take down the larger Lawler.

Once he has him on the ground his vastly superior jiu-jitsu will take over and I expect him to submit Lawler. I’m picking Shields by submission in the third round.

This should be an exciting night of fights and I can’t wait to see all the new additions to the Strikeforce roster.

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