As I jump into the foray of online predictions with MMA, I thought I would start with a warm up before the first major prediction piece with UFC 124 St-Pierre vs Koscheck II. I decided to start with the upcoming Strikeforce fight: Henderson vs. Babalu. I thought this would be a good starting point for a few different reasons: 1st I have not written anything seriously since college, 2nd I usually do not watch Strikeforce so it requires me to get used to doing research to give quality predictions, 3rd it was the next up coming fight with the exception of TUF 12, and I have not fully watched the show this season. I may collaborate with Phil St. John on a TUF 12 piece time permitting. The format for this prediction piece is not set in stone as I expect to tweak it here and there depending on how I feel about it and the feedback I receive. Without further ado, lets get started.
Antonio Silva vs. Valentijn Overeem *UPDATED*
Out of the entire card, this is probably the fight that I am least interested in watching. Antonio Silva is still straddling the line of legitimate contender and freak show, and Valentijn Overeem is the brother of Strikeforce Heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. I have never seen Overeem fight, but he is riding a two fight win streak both by KO. Silva recently beat Andrei Arlovski by decision after losing to Fabricio Werdum by decision.
I expect this to be mainly a standup battle between the two, but is seems strictly by the record that Overeem would have the advantage on the ground if it does go to the mat. Silva has a slight height advantage and a 20 lbs.+ weight advantage, and he seemed displeased in recent interviews about the lack of facing top opponents.
Silva winning either by decision or TKO/KO and immediately calling out Alistair
After publishing the article, Valentjin Overeem with drew from the fight due to an elbow injury. No opponent has been named for Antonio Silva.
Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Lindland
Matt Lindland is a member of Team Quest and a decorated wrestler who rebounded with a TKO win over Kevin Casey after suffering back to back losses to Vitor Belfort (KO) and Jacare (Arm Triangle). Robbie Lawler is a member of Matt Hughes’s Hit Squad and is coming off of a decision loss to Babalu.
This mainly a style matchup between the two, and the person who dictates where the fight stays will win. I see Lindland using his stand up to set up the take down, or clinching and using his wrestling to take Robbie down to ground and pound him into submission. Robbie will of course want to stand and trade with Matt and use his boxing and power to KO him.
I have never been much of a fan of Matt Lindland and I see Raobbie Lawler having more to prove and more fight in him. I have Robbie Lawler winning by KO in the 2nd round.
Paul Daley vs. Scott Smith
This has the making of a great stand up battle that almost assuredly will end in a KO. Paul Daley is probably most well known for his recent fight with Koscheck and throwing a punch at Kos after the end of the fight. Since that fight and being dismissed from the UFC, he has wasted no time in picking up back to back wins (submission from strikes and decision) in a couple of minor league organizations. Scott Smith is another guy who loves to bang, and recently alternated between beating and losing to Cung Lee with both fights ending by way of KO.
It is no secret what these two will do; both will come out swinging and looking to win by KO. Between the two of them they have 42 victories, and 32 of those victories came from a KO/TKO.
This fight should end in the first round or early second with Paul Daley coming out the victor by KO and looking to make a run at the Strikeforce title.
Scott Carson vs. TBA
This fight was suppose to be against Herschel Walker before Walker was forced to withdraw due to a cut he received during training. No opponent has been named for Scott Carson at the time this piece was written.
Dan Henderson vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral
The main event of the night is showdown between Hendo and Babalu. Babalu and Henderson fought once before at Rings-King of Kings which took place on 2/26/2000, and where Henderson took a decision win. It is no secret that I want Babalu to choke Henderson out in their rematch bout. This does not mean I don’t like Hendo, but in this fight I want to see the same epic face he made while being choked out by Anderson Silva. I was able to watch Babalu fight live at UFC 74: Respect, where Babalu defeated David Heath by Anaconda Choke. You may remember this fight because Babalu refused to let the choke go after Heath tapped (see the gif above), resulting in Heath going to sleep and Babalu being fined by the Nevada Athletic Commission and fired by the UFC. Before the fight I also had the pleasure of meeting Babalu in person. I was recovering form a minor neck/shoulder injury from my BJJ training at Team Link, and had been feeling good and pain free for the week before running into Babalu. While posing for a photo with him, he put arm around my shoulder and grabbed the back of my neck, and I realized the full extent of Babalu’s grip and strength. He barely squeezed and I felt instant pain from my neck to my shoulder. It set back my injury by a few days. After feeling the vice grip he has, it is no surprise that when he grabs onto you for a choke, he gets it.
Babalu is a Gracie Barra blackbelt and submission specialist. Out of his 36 wins, 18 have come from submissions. Dan Henderson is decorated wrestler as well who co-founded Team Quest. He also has big right hand that can put anyone out – just ask Michael Bisping. Babalu recently came off of a decision victory over Robbie Lawler, another fighter with strong stopping power in both of his hands. Henderson is recently coming off a loss received during his Strikeforce debut against Jake Shields, another submission specialist.
The pattern of loss for both these fighters makes me even more interested in this fight than usual. Babalu seems to always find a way to get himself knocked out when he loses. Some of the knockouts are him flat out getting caught due to his inability to protect his chin. Just take a look at his fights against Gegard Mousasi, Jason Lambert, and of course his two fights against Chuck Liddell. But Babalu has also submitted other strong wrestlers such as Matt Lindland’s teammate Chael Sonnen and dangerous strikers such as Mauricio Shogun Rua. In Dan Henderson’s last fight, he was unable to finish Jake Shields after catching him in the first round. He also has submission losses to Anderson Silva in the UFC and the Nogueria brothers when he fought in Pride. So what is Hendo’s strategy for this fight? To try and KO Babalu or bring him down to the ground, where Babalu is so dangerous? Perhaps the big difference for this fight will be if Babalu can get the top position on Henderson. In the 2nd and 3rd rounds of Henderson’s fight with Jake Shields, Shields was able to maintain dominant position on Dan Henderson resulting in Shield’s decision victory.
My heart says Babalu will win this fight, but my mind seems to think other wise. I think Dan Henderson will dictate when and where the fight will take place. As long as he does not gas after trying to knock Babalu out, he should be able to grind out a decision victory.